Monday, October 24, 2011

seven days 'til NaNoWriMo

“I have no experience in hiking but I'm going to climb this mountain and not die.”

(Yikes.)

 National Novel Writing Month is nearly here!!!

And here’s the gist of it: Write a brand new novel from scratch (pre-outlining and plotting is allowed) of 50,000 words (minimum) in one month. 

I know, right?

The challenge begins at midnight on November 1st and ends at midnight on November 30th.  If you make it to the 50,000 words, you’re deemed a “winner.” I haven’t been able to find what those who don’t make it are called. But one would have to assume, “loser.” Great.

As of right now, I don’t have a story in mind. I kind of have a tiny idea. But that’s it. The challenge begins in one week, and I’m already feeling stressed out. I’ve never pre-plotted a story before. I’ve always just kind of sat down and wrote when a new scene came to mind. And now….I’m totally blanking. Oh, the pressure!

After registering on the NaNoWriMo site, I went straight to the tab for “pep talks.” The first one I clicked on opened with this:

Dear Writer,
“You’re a fool. You know that, don’t you? Because only a fool would try a stunt as crazy as this. You want to write a 50,000 word novel in one month?! Do you have sawdust in your skull? When there are so many other more useful things you could be doing, like cleaning up the house and yard, taking a correspondence course in Chinese, or contributing your time and effort to a charitable cause? Whatever is possessing you?... Sigh. You’re a lost soul.” – Piers Anthony

O…k? That's what they consider a pep talk??

So then, seriously, how do I do this? 

After more searching, however, I did finally find some helpful tips:

1)      Have an idea ready.

But like I already said…I’m not in the habit of outlining a story. Not on purpose, that is. Stories usually come to me organically. And all this pre-plotting talk is giving me hives. But hey, I’ll do it. This week, in fact! Because, well, I kind of have to. My official NaNo writing buddy and I have agreed to send each other our “outlines” on Wednesday. Gulp.

2)      Analyze your writing habits.

When do I write the best, have the most mental energy to sit in one place and be creative? Well, because I have a day job and sleep at night, I suppose that leaves the evenings. At 50,000 words in 30 days, that’s 1,600+ words a day. A DAY! My palms are sweating. I might try dragging my laptop to a bookstore or library for a change of scenery. I usually don’t write “on location,” however. I prefer sitting at my desk in full concentration mode, or slouching on my couch with my laptop, messing with a chapter during commercial breaks of “Vampire Diaries.” This, of course, will not fly with NaNo. Which brings us to…

3)      Set your DVR

I’m glad I’m not the only one out there who breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of going TV-dark for a month. I’m hoping to be on schedule on the weekends and thus perhaps celebrate a bit by catching up on a show or two. And also, hopefully the NBA will be back in full swing by mid-November. Will the Dallas Mavericks survive without me? And what about Thanksgiving? And what about when my sister comes into town to watch the new "Twilight" movie? Breathe...just breathe...


With one week to go, I’m fully aware that it’s time to get my head in the game. Fully. I’ve been pseudo-preparing for the past three weeks, but now it’s crunch time. Time to get my house in order, do some extra grocery shopping (I’ll probably go WAY off my diet. Shucks.), have extra Diet Cokes lying around, lots of water, lots of music, lots of running, and the pulling forward of all my fail-safes for emergency creativity. (I do have a few of those, thank goodness!)

Despite feeling totally self-inflicted pressure for something that hasn't even happened yet, something that I am volunteering for, something that isn't costing me a red cent....honestly, I'm pretty excited about the adventure. And an adventure, it shall be! I won't be in this alone; there are thousands of participant I can bawl to online, plus my writing buddy to keep me sane and energized. And I'm also counting on YOU. Check in with me, ask me how it's going. Guilt me with cupcakes if you have to.
 
The tag line for NaNo is "Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!" And that sounds pretty cool to me.

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