I chronicled my journey daily on Instagram, so that’s where all the pictures in this post are from. If you want to see them all or follow my continuing journey with Over Again, you can follow me here.
What I learned...okay, here we go.
First of all: they aren’t lying with they tell you how the month really goes (“they” being every blog post or pep talk you’ve ever read). The first day for me was the hardest. I got a little bit of stage fright. Here I’d been preparing and coddling this beautiful project all October and now it was time to put my money where my mouth was and get the thing on paper. Yikes! It took me a while to get started that day. After that, week one flew by pretty easily. By week two I was in struggle city. By week three I was out of words and had to reinvent my project a bit. But by week four I was back to smooth sailing.
No matter what I do, I still procrastinate for about two hours before I actually start writing. I have just come to accept this about myself. Figure out how you write: best times, routines, habits. Don’t fight them: embrace them! Work them into your schedule and you will succeed with way less stress and self-bullying.
Your story will still do whatever the hell it wants, regardless of your perfect preparation. Just let it happen.
That being said: EMBRACE THE MESSY! NaNo is messy. If you do it right, you’re not going to have a perfect manuscript with perfect chapters. More than likely you will have a lot of notes sprinkled throughout and places that say “expand this later” or “research in December.” Whenever my story stalled I even switched writing software or, even more extreme, I switched formats. I went from prose to screenplay, because I could feel the dialogue better. Do whatever works for you, just get words down.
If you get too down in the dumps, read Pep Talks from NaNos past and realize we’ve all been there. You’re not as alone or crazy or terrible as you think you are, because even insert-famous-author-here has felt the same way you feel right now, so get back to it and press on!
Visualize the end product. What is your goal for this project? Do you plan to publish? Release on your blog? Wattpad? Or are you simply doing it for the joy of the thing? I made a book cover for mine and made it my phone’s background. I, also, followed authors I’d like to emulate on Twitter or Instagram and thought that could be me, but not until this thing is finished.
Everyone around you who’s not a writer will eventually tire of your shit. Even my cat was growing tired of me, laying over my papers or knocking things off my dresser as I punched the keys. At first they’ll simply roll their eyes (the humans not the cat) when you turn offers down, but by the end they’ll blantly tell you they don’t get you. Ignore this: write. You can get back to being a normal human being soon (well, mostly normal).
Get involved in your NaNo region! Attend write ins, join their Facebook group, hop in the chatroom with Timmy the word bot. Sometimes stating my goals for the night in the FB group or chatroom helped give me the kick in the pants I needed to get it done when my mind finally said “maybe 1,000 is good enough for today…” No, no it isn’t: write! There’s something about running alongside people that motivates and pushs you to succeed. It’s like when I’m at the gym. If I’m just on the treadmill alone, I tend to go easy on myself. If I’m in spin class and I notice the guy next to me sweating up a rainstorm, I’m going to go harder.
Don’t fall in love with the words! This was my mantra this November. I think it’s a little bit more helpful than “don’t edit.” To me, “don’t edit” just means “get the words perfect without backspacing,” which is impossible. “Don’t fall in love with the words” means “this will be completely different by draft two.” Just get the story down, work on your plot and all the holes you will inevitably find. Make it sound pretty in draft two. Somehow I never made this connection.
I hope you reach that coveted purple bar of validation!