Tuesday, 1 November 2011

NaNoWriMo

Last year, I was approached by a Sudbury writers' group to give them a kick-off message for their NaNoWriMo adventure.  I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo this year - too busy editing the sequel to Destiny's Blood. But I wish all of you who are participating the best of luck, and share the message I wrote last year.  I hope a couple of tips will prove useful! 


In 2009, my first novel was published.  I was also under my first publishing contract to submit the two other books in my Heirs of a Broken Land trilogy within six months of each other.  So I wrote a lot.  I edited and I launched books.  I also worked full time, and I'm also a performing storyteller.  Of course, the storytelling was taking off at the same time, too.

Writing requires dedication.  Your first publishing contract probably won't promise a six-figure advance, you won't be able to quit your day job right away, and life won't screech to a halt while everyone breaks into song to celebrate your success (I was disappointed, too).  Instead, you'll be published and suddenly have way more demands on your time and energy, and you'll still have to juggle everything else in your life.

And it's awesome.  Enjoy every minute.

Here are some of my war lessons and some basic things you should accept about NaNoWriMo:

  1. People will think you're crazy.  They're right.
  2. You will have bad days when everything you write is crap.  Keep writing.
  3. Eat well, sleep some, stretch lots.  Your body is the conduit for your words.  Treat it with respect.
  4. Write every day, at least a bit.  Novels are demanding lovers and will shun you without frequent attention.  
  5. Life doesn't get in the way. Our choices do.  Choose wisely.
  6. When you can't tell dreams from writing from 'real' life, you're on the right track.  
  7. Don't drink yourself into oblivion.  It dulls your spirit and your writing.  Caffeinate yourself into existence, instead.
  8. Writer's block is a myth.  Change mediums, POV characters, rewrite a scene, ignore that connecting scene and trudge on, change your surroundings.  Do what you need to do to keep those fingers typing.
  9. Discipline works best when enforced.  For example, when writing, set your screen saver to come on after two minutes of inactivity.  If it comes on, your fingers and mind must get back to the task immediately.  You can be nice to your psyche when you no longer have a word count deadline.
  10. Don't over-think.  Believe in the process.  Focus on writing scenes.  

Once you're done, don't send off your manuscript in a wave of enthusiasm.  Trust me, it's not there yet.  Let it rest for a few weeks.  Finish it if it isn't finished.  Then re-read it.  And learn to edit.  Getting published isn't magic. It's hard work and dedication, and a willingness to share your work.
NaNoWriMo is a great way to get those words and ideas out, so make sure to remember everything you've learned and apply it all year long, in a less frenzied pace!

Bon succès!