Well, you did it. You’ve gone and pledged your November to the pursuit of the month-long novel. Whether this is your first or ninth NaNoWriMo, we know you’re going to have a great time, and we’re thrilled to have you writing with us.
1) It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Really. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one. No plot? No problem! If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, absolutely do so. But it’s also fine to just wing it. Write everyday, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what that story might be right now.
2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.
3) Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.
3.5) There will be times you’ll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to hug the world.
With great well wishes on the noveling month ahead,
The NaNoWriMo Team
I urge everyone to sign up for it as well. This is truly sado-masochism at one of its best.
Now for that warm-up on my laptop.