How am I allowed to give pro tips to people who are a few, or maybe many, words behind? Because I’m lagging 7307 words behind, that’s why! Whether you’re 1000 words behind or 25,000 words behind, this post is designed to help you, albeit with a few laughs along the way, I hope. Ready? Off we go!
Decide what you want to achieve
Why do you even want to do NaNoWriMo this year? To finish off the other half of that novel which you just haven’t bothered to do? To write a rough first draft of the next best-selling book of all time, a la A Tale of Two Cities? Or do you have an idea in your head that you just have to write down, even though you don’t want to get it published?
Whatever your reason, calm down! The publishing industry is still going to be there when you’ve finished your book, be that the end of this year or 2016. Just relax, take a deep breath, and write.
But what if I can’t write?
Has writer’s block hit you? Well I’m sorry to say that, in the poshest voice possible, that is absolute poppycock! Everyone is in the same position as you: write 50,000 words in 30 days. Now I understand that this is not easy, and in normal circumstances of novel-writing I would accept if someone had a case of writer’s block. But during NaNoWriMo? The only reason you “can’t” write everyday is because you won’t; we’re all naturally lazy, apart from the odd one or two people living on this planet. I really didn’t want to write today, and I haven’t written that much, but I’m proud to have written 1061 words. I wrote something when I didn’t want to write! If you can say the same about you, even if all you write is 100 words, you’ve done something which not many people have done. Be proud of that fact.
Listen to certain music whilst writing certain scenes
I know some people can write whilst even the randomest type of music is blasting (well, maybe not blasting) through their speakers. But here’s a little thing which I do: if I’m writing an action scene, then I’ll listen to something powerful, strong, loud. But if I’m writing a sad scene (there are many of them in my own NaNoWriMo book) I’ll listen to something slower, quieter, which usually means that it’s sadder. I find that by doing this the words seem to push their way through those callous fingers and onto the page, meaning more words for your word count! Whoo hoo!
I’m never going to finish!
As I said before, relax. If you really are a long way off from catching up, or even if you haven’t started yet, then consider creating a new goal for yourself. After all, why beat yourself up about something which you’ll never get done? If you’re at 10,000 words, maybe you should try to aim for 30,000 by November 30th, as opposed to its ‘official’ 50,000. If you haven’t started yet, why not push for 20,000? NaNoWriMo isn’t necessarily about hitting that 50k; it’s about community, striving for what YOU can achieve, and feeling good about yourself. If you haven’t managed 50,000 by the end of November, don’t sweat it – you’ve participated and tried, which is more than a lot of people have ever done, and you’ve had the chance to write, which is always a great thing. And remember that even after November, you can keep going with your novel! It doesn’t have to end!
But my writing isn’t good enough…
Don’t even think about thinking this. Do you know what NaNoWriMo’s tagline is? “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!” Yeah, that means that your work doesn’t have to be good. At all. It can be terrible, actually, because NaNoWriMo’s goal isn’t to ‘get everyone to write perfect novels which will sell tremendously well.’ Their goal is simple but achievable: bring everyone together who wants to write and let them write. Whatever you’ve accomplished by the end, and if you’ve tried, then that’s the best anyone can ever do.
And that’s the bottom line. If you’ve tried your best, not anyone else’s, then who can criticise you? No one, that’s who. Enjoy the writing that you manage to do, and smile at what everybody else has managed to write, as well. National Novel Writing Month is all about community, and that’s what counts!
Until next week,
Thomas (who is over 7000 words behind and will probably be rushing like mad during the last few days).