Every writer is different. If you put 50 of us in a room and asked us about our favorite drink to consume while writing, you would get 50 different answers. You might get a few to agree on the same beverage. But the people who swear by hot tea would be at odds with the coffee lovers. Then there’s the whole Coke/Pepsi debate.
Now, just as we can’t all agree on what to drink while trying to write, we can’t all agree on how to write a book. Sure, it involves concentration and free time. It involves getting to know your characters. To finish it in a month requires dedication. But HOW to write is an area that is left up to the individual writer.
Some people go into NaNo with their whole story mapped out. They know from Point A to Point Z like the back of their hand. They’ve completed all their research, named all their characters and places, and know the ending. I will call these people the Overly Prepared group. There is nothing wrong with being overly prepared. If it helps you write, then plan everything to your heart’s content.
There are other people who do no planning before November. They might know the story a little bit before hand, or change everything the moment they start writing. These people are known as Pantsers because they write by the seat of their pants.
Is either group wrong? No. They are two vastly different methods, but both groups cross the finish line with regularity. I have been part of both groups.
My very first NaNo, I was a rebel and worked on a story that I’d already started. I knew where it was going and what happened. I had a few moments where I wasn’t sure how the character was going to talk her way out of the situation, but there were very few surprises.
Two years later, I had no plot. I got an idea for a mystery novel about two weeks before November started. I finished one scene and had no idea why the car had wrecked or what would happen next. It was FUN.
Since then, I’ve become a mix of both. I tend to plan the big picture of my story, and I usually have an ending in mind. But the nuts and bolts of how to get from Point A to D is figured out as I write the story. That’s how I am comfortable writing things – room for surprises, but the big stuff is planned.
But that’s me. Part of the NaNo experience is to find out what kind of writer you are.
Some people swear by writing music. Some plan out which songs fit certain moods, and others have chapter by chapter playlists. These songs help them concentrate on the mood and feel of the current turn of the story.
There are others who cannot write to music. I am one of those people. I work best in silence. If I listen to music, I focus on the lyrics and I’ll soon get distracted with a possible drama or just a wonderful song. Since I know that about me, I avoid music while writing.
Pen and Paper or Computer?
Some people prefer to write by hand. Others (most, I believe), love the ease that the computer gives them to create their next story. Having done it both ways (more later on in the month of why), I can safely say I prefer writing on the computer.
I will be giving you pieces of advice throughout the month to help you reach your goal. Not everything will apply to you. All writers are unique. Part of the NaNoWriMo experience is finding out what works best for you.
They’re Ahead of Me!
I know we talked about this before, but it bears repeating. If you constantly compare yourself to others, you will spend the entire month disappointed. Everyone has different goals. Some just want to reach 50k by the end of the month. Others have 75k or 100k as their ultimate goal. Some have to finish before Thanksgiving. Some have better schedules that allow them more time to write.
NaNo is both a community challenge and a personal challenge. Celebrate others’ successes, but don’t lose sight of your ultimate goal. This is a challenge for you. If you had a long, horrible day and only managed 500 words before crawling into bed an hour late, that’s fine. If you couldn’t write at all, that is okay, too. You have time to catch up.
Celebrate the little things. You got through that difficult chapter. You wrote that zinger that came to mind at work. You beat someone in a word war. Or you managed a personal best. Even if you have nothing spectacular to report for a given day, that is okay as well. Writing is filled with plenty of ordinary moments, punctuated with little celebrations like the ones I’ve listed above.
Remember on the days you’re frustrated that this is a challenge for you. If the massive word counts of others are driving you bananas, either stay away from the Over Achievers thread, or remember that they are at a different point in their writing journey than you.
There is no wrong way to write. If you work best at a crowded desk with your reward for finishing your quota within sight, tv on, music blaring, all while watching the kids do their homework, go for it!