November is all about NaNoWriMo!

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Sydney Writers Centre last Friday night to chat about my NaNoWri Mo experiences…here’s most of what I think I said…

Why did I sign up for NaNo the first time around?

Because I like deadlines…I like being poked and prodded into writing. I am a bit of a procrastinator and sometimes will find any excuse NOT to write (except going to the dentist…obviously). So to have an organised competition like NaNoWriMo spurring me into action is great motivation. I don’t like to lose so I always give it my best shot. First time around in 2008, I think I wrote about 30,000 and all through the month, I kept thinking…‘this is a bit hard’. Even though I didn’t win, I kept at it.

In 2009, I obviously had my act together and some momentum because although the thought of writing 50,000 was daunting, I kept at it. I was determined – and I achieved it. In fact, I wrote much of the first draft of my new book Stella Makes Good during that period. (I had to get a plug in there, somehow.)

In 2010, the wheels fell off…I only managed about 25,000 words.

Why do I keep doing it?

Because it’s a great motivational tool. The online vibe is great…there’s a real sense of purpose and community and I get spurred along by others…plus as I’ve mentioned, I like to win.

What does my month look like?

I have no idea…it’s a day by day adventure. However, writing is my full time job so I have the luxury (!) of writing from home in my pyjamas. I still have to feed my children and do the normal family things, but basically during school hours I am free to write. I am zipping up to Armidale mid-month to speak at a writing symposium and will have to factor that in…Just like I know I won’t be able to write on weekends.

Do I write more at the beginning, the end or the middle?

I would say I write more at the beginning because I am bursting with enthusiasm. By November 12, I’ll be flat, cranky and berating myself…happily then I’ll venture to Armidale where others will berate me!

What are the main challenges I face at NaNoWriMo?

Coming up with a decent story arc would be very high on the list, followed by keeping interested, involved and connected with the process. And acknowledging that this is a very worthwhile process…it’s really important to let your stream of consciousness flow (even if I do sound like a wanker!)

My advice to others going on the NaNoWriMo journey?

  1. It’s okay to be totally bewildered and have no idea. That’s me, most of the time.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make the 1666 daily word count. Some days the words will flow, other times, it’s a drought fest!
  3. Keep going! Believe in yourself and blurt those words out.
  4. Tell everyone you are writing a book. Pressure? Absolutely. But you’re serious about this novel writing business. Yes?
  5. Don’t edit…you don’t have time. Keep churning the words out. You’ll have plenty of time to edit in December when you’re trying to avoid Christmas shopping and family gatherings.
  6. You WILL get frustrated. And cranky…and hate everyone. Or is that just me? No! You’ll want to run away from your real life to focus on NaNo. Here’s a tip. Unless you’re…well let’s face it…not you…you won’t be able to. Deal with it. Write when you can, even if it’s at 2am. Not that I recommend that. The words I’ve written at 2 am? Not even I can decipher them.
  7. Don’t give up! If writing is your passion, stick with it. Even if you only write 20,000 in November, it’s 20,000 more than you had at the start of the month.
  8. Compare yourself to others…but don’t compare yourself. It’s a bit like breasts…the woman beside you might have bigger breasts but yours may be rounder, perkier…hmm, what I mean is…comparing yourself to the writer next door is a good motivational tool when aiming to write 1666 words every day but at the end of the month, if you’ve only written 30,000…they might be the most perfectly formed 30,000 ever!


5 thoughts on “November is all about NaNoWriMo!

  1. Yep, that’s what you said on Friday night, Lisa – and it’s great to read through it again. Already on Day 1 I’m finding it useful to have these words of encouragement. I felt fabulous thrashing out my 1700+ words early this morning, but work is sapping my enthusiasm and already I’m panicking about finding writing time tomorrow.
    I will, though! Truly, I will!
    Looking forward to reading Stella, and whatever you produce from this year’s Nano too!

  2. Love it, Lisa! So much wisdom contained in this post. The benefits of NaNo are huge. This is my 4th year in succession participating and I too love the externally imposed deadline, as well as the legitimacy that comes with joining everybody else for a month of writing madness. For some reason, doing NaNo gives me permission to put writing on my list of priorities for a month.

    Good luck!

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