My Advice for NaNoWriMo

I’m not an expert on how to achieve the 50,000 word goal for NaNoWriMo by any means, but I just wrote an email to one of my friends about some of the things that I think might help. I figured I’d write about it here too. Better still, I thought I’d write it in points so that it looks all that much more knowledgeable.

1. Don’t be too hard on yourself. By that I mean that you shouldn’t beat yourself up if some of your characters are a bit weak or your plot seems to be going nowhere. These 50,000 words aren’t about perfection. They’re about writing.

2. Don’t stress about errors and inconsistencies. When I’m writing I often change my characters’ names and personalities until I come upon something that I like. By the end of my last story I had three Emilys, two Carls and two Jacksons; plus there were a bunch of other names that were used for no more than a chapter. One five-year old girl became an eleven-year old. An old man turned a bit younger. And once or twice I created characters that were in one scene and never heard from again. I found that stressing about these things ruined the flow of my work, so I decided not to do it.

3. Don’t look back over your work. Since I suggest that you not worry about the errors and inconsistencies of your first draft, there is no real point in looking back over your work. If anything it’ll only lead to second-guesses and a desire to edit. It’s better to just leave what you’ve written alone and deal with it later. Again you don’t want to interrupt that creative flow!

4. Don’t fight it. One of the hardest things to do as an author is to let go of our ideas and let the story take over. For the most part there are plots that we want to follow and characters we want to introduce. But sometimes we need to allow our stories to develop in the way in which they want to.

Now I’m not trying to make it sound mystical or any such thing, but I really do believe that our stories and characters can take on a life of their own…if we let them. And once we do a lot can come out. Besides, we can always put those ideas that we wanted to write about in another story.

5. Enjoy the experience. I think the most important thing to take out of this is the thrill of writing. It shouldn’t be a chore. It shouldn’t be difficult. It should be fun and exciting.

At the end of it all we can always edit what we’ve written. We can add details that we think are missing or dialogue that we know will make our readers turn the pages turn that much quicker. We can delete scenes or add them. We can fix-up any of the hundreds of errors we’ve probably made. And if worst comes to worst, we can throw it all away and start over (though I don’t think that’ll be necessary and I wouldn’t recommend it). The point of NaNoWriMo is to get 50,000 words onto the page. Try not to take it as anything more than that.

Just keep at it. Be proud of yourself for even trying. And good luck.

3 thoughts on “My Advice for NaNoWriMo

  1. Owen McManamon November 24, 2012 / 8:55 am

    Hi Michael, I just read your blog ‘My Advice for NaNoWriMo’ I’m so happy you are continuing to share your writing expereince. Keep it up.

  2. Hayley October 31, 2013 / 1:00 pm

    Thanks Michael, now I feel ready to get typing 🙂

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