The weather is getting colder, the ugg boots are making appearances, and the leaves are becoming colorful. That's right: National Novel Writing Month is coming. In fact; it's only three days away. What? Did you think I was going to say winter is coming? Well there's that too.
Every year around this time you'll get the hoard of writers coming into the NaNo forums freaking out because they don't have a plot. You'll get other writers coming in saying they have too many ideas. Others still set goals in the triple digits. At least three will take the "Million in a Month" challenge again after being challenged by everyone else and themselves. And others will stare at everyone with a look of awe on their faces that will either turn to euphoria or dread as they are the new kid on the block.
It doesn't matter if this is your first year or your 12th year. There is only ONE piece of advice every writer, professional or not, needs to hear when the bell chimes 12 times on October 31 (making it Nov 1): Put your butt in the chair and write.
That's it. There is no secret pill, no mantra, special food or drink, extensive routine, or guru. The only thing that can make you write is you sitting in the chair and writing. That's it, that's all.
I have seen, heard, and smirked (sometimes rolled my eyes) at every excuse because I've seen and heard people doing more and still winning NaNo. Go to school full time? Yeah, so is about half the board. I've got 10 hours in the day five days a week where I can't write.
Go to work full time? Me too. Same with probably the other half of the board. Do both? Okay, now it's a bit tricky. Still doable. Single mother? Ah, more tricky, but again: still doable. Family emergency? Okay, now you're entering the zone where life comes first.
Not to say school, work, and kids aren't important because they are. So is personal hygiene and food. But school, work, kids, and general life can be worked around.
Think of it this way: you only need to write three and a half blocks of 500 words. At an average of 52 words per minute that's a little over half an hour. Okay, so you can only write 30 words a minute. In one hour you'll have hit the daily goal to complete 50K by Nov 30. Actually you'll be about 144 words over so bonus.
Most people can hit the word count goal in an hour. And it's not hard to MAKE time for that one hour. Write on the commune to work or school (as long as you're not the one driving), write during lunch or breaks, wake up an hour earlier if your day is packed or go to bed an hour later. Look at what you have to do and manage your time around an extra hour a day. Instead of doing laundry three times a week, do it twice. Instead of seeing a movie every week, go every other week. Instead of sleeping in for three hours or taking a one hour nap: write.
Winning NaNo is all about a person's ability to plant their butt in the chair and write. It doesn't even have to be good or make sense. NaNo is about motivating you to MAKE the time to write. And sometimes free writing (writing without a plan) becomes the best writing. Sometimes writing about your day gives you an idea on where to take your story. And yes, it still counts as writing.
If you're really, truly stuck: write a scene where your characters are eating pie. They'll get a chance to TELL YOU what's going on and you'll figure out through them how to get there. Again: KEEP WRITING. It's the ONLY way you can win NaNo.
Oh and in case you're wondering: I've won three years in a row by at least double the amount needed. I've also won 4 camps officially. Six unofficially. So yeah, I know what I'm talking about.
Still not convinced? I've got a few other writing tips in that section of this blog as well as a bunch of stuff about NaNo in that tab. Take the few days before NaNo begins to go over it all if you want. And don't worry: the NaNo community is one of the nicest communities I've ever been a part of. If you have a question or problem: voice it. Someone's going through close to the same thing and will help you out.
Until next time: questions, comments, rage, rants and other things can be directed to the comments. Don't forget to check out my Kickstarter Campaign for kicks. I'd appreciate a donation if you're willing.