Good morning, friends! (Or afternoon, or evening, or middle-of-the-night-chocolate-eating hour… whatever time it is when you’re reading this post, I won’t judge you.)
Welcome to the Fourth and Final Week of NaNoWriMo! Let the 16th WriMo Games begin!
Okay, well, maybe not.
I shall not apologize for rereading the Hunger Games (yet) again.
Week Four is a mad dash. Everyone’s scrambling to get their word counts in, and, as the crazy week of Thanksgiving begins, we all hunker down with our pre-Thanksgiving tea to really write. Chances are, unless you are an amazing sort of human being with amazing productivity skills and no procrastination capabilities, you are behind. Be it 1,000, 2,000, or even 30,000 words, like me, you probably could do with some extra time.
Well, as a person who is both (a) 30k behind with a week to go and (b) a nine-time veteran and winner of NaNoWriMo, I figured I should probably tell you what I know about Week Four. And because lists are awesome, I’ve decided to bullet point it for you.
- Write like crazy. ‘Nuff said.
- Do not forget about real life. This is very important. One year I forgot that Thanksgiving was coming up, and I was in charge of some of the food. (Which in retrospect, is very odd since I have a tendency to blow up the kitchen. Or otherwise break something.)
- It’s okay if you don’t win. Seriously. I mean, this is one of the most important things to know, and it’s something that nobody ever told me. In the end, NaNoWriMo isn’t about the winning. It’s about getting your novel started. In fact, most of the stuff you write during November will end up getting dumped, because you wrote it at 3 AM at breakneck speed. If you get your novel started, that makes you a winner. If you resolve to keep getting words down on the page until it’s done, that’s fantastic. I don’t think NaNoWriMo has ever been about finishing something. It’s always been about finishing it.
- It’s okay for things to suck. At this point, if you’re anywhere close to winning, you’re probably real close to being burned out. When you’re burned out, your writing won’t be the best. But an unfinished MS does not a novelist make.
- With that said, make sure you aren’t so burned out that you never want to touch your MS again. That’s a bad sign that you’re already way over the edge of your writing limit. At this point, it may be best to take a break, read a little, and come back to your novel when you’re ready.
- Writing meets are the best thing ever to exist. Trust me. It’s amazing what a friend and a few laptops can accomplish during November.
- Tea/Coffee is your best friend. Also, chocolate. Stock up, because you’re going to need it.
- This is not the end of the road. Ultimately, this is just a tiny baby step towards completing a novel. NaNoWriMo is not a perfect-novel machine. It’s far from that. I think it’s important to point out that millions of publishing houses are flooded with query letters on December 1st, begging to have their NaNoWriMo novel published. Ultimately, most of these novelists get rejected, and lose a fantastic opportunity with a publishing house. Once you query to a publishing house with your manuscript, you can never query to that publishing house with that manuscript again. December also sees the self-published e-book market hit over the head with a multitude of 50K novels in various stages of completion. Ouch. I’m not saying this because I think self-published books can’t be good. On the contrary, there are some wonderful gems in there. But if those NaNo novels are hitting the market in December? They can’t have been edited, at least not very well. Editing is your friend. Edit edit edit. I have been known to say that the writing process is more in editing than in actually writing, and I stand by that. Editing is when you clean up the character arcs, the plot threads, and polish up that wonderful book. It might take you two drafts, ten, or fifteen, but no novel has ever turned out perfect. However angelic you think your novel is, IT NEEDS EDITING.
This is the first year I have decided I will not be winning NaNoWriMo. It’s more important that my grades stay up than my word-count. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have to join in the
WriMo Games Week Four fun. Why not? It’s too good to miss.