Hello fine people! Who’s participating in Nanowrimo this year? Great! We can be writing buddies. Although I have to warn you, this year I’m going to be a cheater.
A dirty, dirty cheater. Why? Because I’m using Nano to re-write my novel:
And while this will be a topic for another post: COVERS MATTER GUYS. Not for Nano, but y’know, selling.
Now I’m no pro (see Newbie Guide) but I have managed to win Nanowrimo last year while working full time.
But I’ve learned that winning Nano is kind of arbitrary and doesn’t actually help much with writing a novel. It serves more as the spring thaw to get those creative juices flowing so you can hammer a spigot into your head and pour out all the stuff in there onto a page.
Which is why this year I’m cheating.
How to Nanowrimo for Newbies
Also known as OHGODWHY.
1. Consider it practice
What you write in Nano is in no way, shape, or form, ready to be published. Unless you’re a god of writing, but hey, we’re all humble mortals here right? *squints at you* RIGHT?
Anyways, some people say to consider it Draft 0. The ‘shit’ draft. While the programmer in me appreciates the proper count increment, Draft 0 sounds like it’s utterly worthless. And it’s not, it’s just a mess and full of useless paragraphs describing things that don’t need to be described because HEY WORDCOUNT.
2. Make Friends
I know, this was on my last Nuggets-list too. But that should just reinforce how important this is. Last year Nanowrimo was where I met most of the people that kept my ass in my chair well into the summer. These people are your comrades, fellow sufferers and cheerleaders. No one else will understand you the way they do this month. A bit of friendly competition can work but it’s important to remember…
3. It’s Not a Contest
My first nano event last year I walked in and was told by someone that they already wrote a book and published it. Turns out it was a vanity press thing, but I didn’t know better, and gave them a strange look when they asked how many words I wrote in a day.
I never counted, so I just said ‘until I’m done?’
Some writers can crank out thousands of words a day in one go. Some writers are proud of this. Some writers don’t write thousands of words a day, and it’s okay to be proud of that too. Don’t use one of the uber-word-counters as a benchmark, find someone with a similar approach and buddy up with them.
4. Try New Things
I mean hey, we’ve established that anything that comes out of Nano is going to be heavily revised and cut up and frankensteined back together. Why not try out something new, a different Narrative Voice, a MC who comes from a different background than you or even a different approach to writing. If you’re a pantser, try outlining. If you’re a chronological writer (like me,) try writing the chapters you feel like and filling in later.
5. Have Realistic Goals
Yes I know this was also on the last list too. Shut up it’s important.
50,000 words is just a mark. It’s not a full length novel. Don’t freak out if you don’t hit it, or if you do and you’re only half way through the story. Fantasy novels are around 80,000 – 120,000 according to my research. Science Fiction is just slightly shorter.
Unless you’re one of those uber-word-counters, you’re probably not going to write a full length novel in a month. Even if you don’t ‘win’, look back and see how much more you’ve written than normal. That’s pretty rewarding of itself.
6. Back It Up, Back It Up, Back It Up!
Your files are precious. Once every couple days save a complete copy on Gdocs, an external Hard Drive, or Dropbox. With luck, you don’t have to use them. But if not, you’ll never know the soul-crushing agony of losing your entire novel on November 28th.
7. Repeat After Me: I Will Not Sub my Nano Novel In December
Why? Because it’s not good enough yet.
Fix it, hack it to bits and stitch it back up. There are going to be typos, filler, and random streams of consciousness in there that you honestly can’t remember writing.
Also, you don’t want to be That Writer, do you? You know the one that editors get a manuscript from ever December 5th like clockwork? No! You want to be THAT WRITER who submits full, awesome, polished novels and wows the socks off agents and editors a like.
The saying ‘you can’t polish shit’ is totally a lie (Myth, busted [link to come]) but it takes a while and a lot of hard work.
And that is why I’m cheating this year. *rolls up sleeves and gets out her polishing cloth.*