Happy December, my lovely and wonderful readers!
I didn’t post much last month, with good reason (at least, I think I had good reason!): I was busy writing up a storm to “win” NaNoWriMo. And … I finally did it! After my fourth time participating, I finally freaking did it. I wrote more than 50K words in 27 days.
But, how did I do it? Well, I attribute my success to three things:
1. I finally felt like I had permission to write—whatever—which helped.
By having “permission to write” whatever and whoever I wanted, everything else fit into place. There was no judgement, no anxiety about getting everything right, but just pure focus on the story and characters that I began to fall in love with.
Until this year, I never truly understood what that so-called permission meant until I actually let it reign supreme in my writing process this past November. As I move forward, I will always keep that permission to write at the top of my writing needs, and I believe it will continue to help me improve my craft and my prose.
2. I kept a steady pace and routine.
Keeping a steady pace and routine is harder than it sounds. But I already knew that I am a creature of the night. I often can’t sleep until 3 or 4am, so I either read or write. During NaNo, I obviously chose to write. I typically began around 11pm and wrote until 1am–sometimes 2am. Doing that every night in November helped me to hammer out an average of 2K words a night.
Sometimes I wrote more, sometimes less, but I did not have any huge spurts of 10K words or anything. (I don’t think writing spurts are bad, but sometimes they don’t help the routine.) I chose particular scenes or chapters to work on, and if I needed to, I’d add to my notes to save more for later. I think I’ve finally found a good writing groove to stick to for future books (and of course, for when I rewrite the first draft of my NaNo book).
3. I prepped like a war general before battle by outlining and note-taking two weeks leading up to NaNo.
Some writers are “pansters” and some are straight up planners. Or, like me, some are in between. When I began to dream up the concept of my third novel, I started outlining two weeks prior to NaNo. I had a notebook as well as note cards. The notebook helped me to get all my ideas out in a jumbled format. The note cards helped me to write key elements of particular scenes–or even write up some punchy dialogue (much neater than notebook notes).
Having both as resources was the best thing I’ve ever done as a practicing writer in the past 5-6 years. Without those elements, I don’t know that this year’s NaNo would have been as smooth for me as it was. I was able to see the beginning, middle, and end of my story, and that’s what truly helped my story flow from 0 to just over 52K words.
What NaNoWriMo Taught Me This Year
So, even if you didn’t win NaNoWriMo this year, didn’t participate at all, or are scratching your head, saying: “What the hell is NaNoWriMo?” I think there’s an important lesson to be learned that anyone can apply to their craft.
Giving yourself permission to do something–to write, to follow a dream, to become a better person–that’s how it all starts. Permission. No one is going to come up to you and say: “I give you permission to write this book.” Nor are they going to say: “I give you permission to find a job that makes you happy.” NO. It begins with you, and you need to say it to yourself. Only then can you be better than you were yesterday. And you know something? Our world could definitely use a lot of “better” in it.
So, I dare you. Give yourself permission, starting today, and see what happens. If you fail, give yourself permission to get up and try again. And soon, you’ll see that having permission is the best thing that could have ever happened to you.
Until next time,