Sunday, November 24, 2013

Getting Back in the Game

This year, I’ve enlisted some of my writing buddies to help me blog about the wonderful/frustrating experience that is NaNoWriMo. This is from Phil, a local Wrimo with an awesome sense of humor. Phil has an amazing habit of catching up and winning on the very last day of November. I've enlisted him to tell us how he does it.

Almost everyone who participates in NaNoWriMo quickly realises that no matter how good their intentions, life gets in the way and often they will get behind the word par. Throughout my numerous attempts at NaNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy, I have found myself frequently and sometimes significantly far from goal with time running out and the month drawing to a close. 
NaNoWriMo is about having fun and getting your ideas out of your head and onto paper. Not hitting the goal is far from the end of the world, and in fact sometimes you would rather write something well first go around rather than accepting the poor quality which usually comes from pushing out so many words in such a short space of time. If you decide that you do want to hit that target but are staring at the stats page and seeing next year’s date as the estimate, then perhaps these ideas beneath will help you bridge the gap between your word count and the daily par. 

1.    Refuse to give up. Make sure you have told everyone you know that you are attempting NaNoWriMo and give people updates, whether they want those updates or not. (If you haven’t already done this yet this year, take a second before reading on to announce to the word on Facebook or Twitter or whatever that you are doing it. Once you have done this you may continue reading) After a while they will be keen to ask you about it and this keeps you honest. Once people are asking you about your novel it becomes harder to find ways to avoid writing – people are invested in your success now, how could you possibly let them down?

2.    I’ve heard it said that professional writers should get into a routine. Set aside the same part of the day, every day, to write. That is all well and good for professional writers, but us mere mortals rarely have that luxury. If you have fallen behind then you need to start squeezing every drop of time out of your day to get back on track. Sneak a couple of hundred words in on your breaks at work, sneak a couple more in before dinner and then again before bed.

3.    If you find yourself behind then you may need to get creative – have one of your minor characters suddenly go on a three thousand word feminist rant (done that), refer to everyone by their full names and titles (done that), switch perspective utterly to a new character with an entirely different set of problems and people with whom they can interact (did that this year). Writing is the goal – you can smooth out the kinks in December. Just sit down somewhere, anywhere, and write.

4.    Try to find one day before the end of the month that can be your ‘Big Catchy Uppy Day’. Try to get somewhere comfy and just write. Set yourself small targets throughout the day and give yourself rewards – I find candy to be effective. Do little sprints, 15-30 minutes at most. When you break the day down it becomes a lot easier and less daunting. I have managed a ten thousand word day a few times, once out of absolute necessity. On that day, I did not focus on how much I needed to write still, but rather just focused on one little chunk, and when that was done I moved onto the next chunk, completing the day in several small bursts of literary enthusiasm.

5.    When times get tough and you need to get back on track, call on your friends to help bail you out of the hole. I am very fortunate to be married to our ML. She helped me overcome a huge deficit in 2012. On November 21st I was over ten thousand words behind schedule, with just twenty six and a half thousand words written. Over the next nine days, and with fantastic support from those around me, I achieved my goal and hit the 50k mark at around 11:50 on November 30th

If I can do it, so can you!  

Phil Cumming is an absolute goof ball and routinely gets himself hideously behind on his word count. He has the distinct pleasure of being married to the Greenville, NC region’s ML and believes that everyone would benefit from living with one, should they get the chance. Phil is participating in his fourth NaNoWriMo event this November, having also successfully written for Script Frenzy one year and Camp NaNoWriMo another. So far, he has miraculously won on every occasion except the time he broke his wrist. He feels he should have a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card for that one.

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