Uppers and The Death of Your Social Life: NaNoWriMo Survival Guide For Participants

Standard
Fuck you cards.

Send these out to the haters. (Photo credit: m.k.)

(Stay tuned on Wednesday for Part Two, which is for everyone surrounded by the insanity this month, but not taking part. I have not forgotten you, brothers and sisters, because I am one of you. Coming soon, the NaNoWriMo Survivial Guide: Spectators Edition!)

1) Find a Roadmap. You should have some idea of what you’re going to write, even if it’s only the word ‘fuck’ 50,000 times in a row.* Do you have a type of story? A character? A scene? A genre? All of these are foundations upon which a proper story may be built. Get yourself a pen and paper and get cracking.

2) Get Caffeinated. Or indulge in some other upper of choice. I’m not here to judge until you actively start foaming at the mouth. In which case it will be my duty to put you down like the rabid word-hound that you are.
Until that happy day, though, you’re going to need some quick-fire energy. I recommend espresso, each one spaced about two hours from the last so that your heart doesn’t explode, but choose your own indulgence. Chocolate, candy, tea, smoothies…the possibilities are endless. Just, you know, partake responsibly.

3) Make Space. Notify family, friends, spouses, children, pets, coworkers, and any other living entity that might wish a moment of your time for the next thirty days that you will be, if not unavailable, then at least very fucking hard to reach. Change your email auto-response. Adjust your answering machine. Switch your Skype icon to ‘unavailable’. Fake your death. Whatever you have to do in order to carve out a chunk of writing time.

4) Manage Your Pace. This will mean different things for different people. For example:
If you get ahead: cherish these moments but don’t slack off. Maintain the momentum that got you there. If you take a break for a couple of days, you might not regain your pace.
If you get behind: Don’t panic. Catch up when you can. Scribble a few words whenever you get a chance. And remember that this is supposed to be fun, not an exercise in hand-wringing and paranoia.
If you’re on track: Then stay there. What the fuck else were you expecting?

5) Onwards To Adventure! This will be a unique project for you. Even if you’ve done NaNo before, nothing will be like this. So enjoy the ride. Experiment! Write freely and with passion. Editing is for December.

*Though I will say that plan is unambitious at best.

14 thoughts on “Uppers and The Death of Your Social Life: NaNoWriMo Survival Guide For Participants

  1. Your post is a good one for first-timers. I participated in NaNoWriMo last year and although I did not have a novel in me, I wrote a memoir. The takeaway from the 30-day experience is that I now find that I can “get in the zone” and write, even with interruptions. The experience has been a positive one and this year I am taking a MOOC on storytelling during NaNo.

  2. This is good advice. One of the most difficult aspects of NaNoWriMo is avoiding pressure or making your expectations too high. A lot of writers need to hear that it’s okay to make mistakes, don’t miss the main point of creating. Maybe you could write about your own experiences participating in NaNo to help those currently having a hard time getting caught up in the angst of word counts. Hearing about someone who has been through a similar experience helps put things in perspective.

    • That is an excellent suggestion. I’ll get a retrospective up, but in the meantime, I was actively blogging last November when I did NaNo for the fifth time and I’m reasonably certain that I remember discussing how it was going. Having a look through those archives might tide you over until I get a new one up.

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