How to Make It Out of NaNoWriMo with Your Soul, Sanity, and 50,000 Words

November 21, 2016

For the past five years, I have anticipated and bragged about how I planned to finish a first draft of a novel during National Novel Writing Month. I have joined at least eight writing groups, set weekly goals, and even attempted to deprive myself of food until I hit a certain word (I highly discourage this). Not once have I ever succeeded. Not once have I come close. 

Here is a relative breakdown of my writing process in the month of November: 

  • Sit at computer. Get frustrated with writing space. Go to store to buy flowers, candles, and other things to spruce up my writing space. Get upset with how much money I spent on my desk. Give up for the day with the justification that I cannot write grumpy. 

  • Spend hours shuffling through songs to get me in “the mood.” 

  • Make tea. Sit down. Stare at screen. Realize the tea is cold and reheat the tea. Repeat.  

  • Attempt to write the novel in exact chronological order and get absurdly angry when I hit a block. Ignore the fact that I have ideas for later chapters. Throw my notes at the wall. Leave the house (which is ridiculous, because I hate leaving my house, but now out of stubbornness I am outside).  

  • Bake, clean, organize my closet, look up sweaters for my cat and me, google how to summon a demon, eat three tubes of Pringles, order ice trays from Amazon, make up my own theme song and quite literally anything else, except write.  

 

My pattern will not happen this year! This is my last November as an undergraduate and my last November to create something lasting before real adulthood. So here is my new writing process. Maybe it could be worthwhile to one of you (hypothetical readers) and we can struggle and cry through this together: 

 

1. Wake up early, move, and detox 

I’ve realized that my bed and couch are terrible enablers. Usually, I find myself complaining about not having enough time, while I sit lazily on my couch refusing to acknowledge all the ample time I do have. So I will wake up one to two hours early on days that allow for it and leave. I will write at coffee shops. I will write in libraries. I will continually move, stretch, and find new places to encourage my changing novel. I’ve found that writing in the morning detoxes my body and mind. I can release any ideas or burdens in my writing before going on with my day. 

 

2. Dress well—myself and my space 

When I look like crap, I write like crap. Actually, I don’t write at all. Every day I will make the effort to get out of my four year old leggings, brush my teeth, and do something with my face. If I put on a solid seven dollars’ worth of makeup, you better believe I will make the best of it. I will also find the best writing space that fuels my mind and eyes. I have particular coffee shops that I could possibly single-handedly keep afloat with my November caffeine addiction. I have also cultivated my own safe haven in my apartment throughout the years. My writing deserves the best. So I need to wear real pants, deodorant, and sit in a chair not covered in cat hair.  

 

3. Preplan my mood music 

Thanks to universi-tea, I have no excuse of searching through Pandora for the right ambiance music.  

Ambient noise: 

Classic/instrumental music: 

light focus 

for mindless work 

 

I hope that these ideas lead to a pleasantly surprising NaNoWriMo. If not, at least I can say I wrote a post about how to write for NaNoWriMo, a petty and small win that I will take. If you are new to the November writing game, or even a veteran, I implore you to find your own writing process. Maybe you like to write your ideas on napkins or you only eat yellow foods. Whatever makes your little heart flutter and words come vomiting out onto pages.  

 

***For extra inspiration, check out Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beat sheets to help organize your novel! 

 

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