Write Now: 5 Steps to NaNoWriMo Success

It's November first again, the official start to National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. Are you already feeling the pressure to hit those daily word-count goals? Create something magical? Write that masterpiece?

Get up, Get up, pressure, pressure...
Paint the scene for me,
Paint it bright and clear...

So, maybe Bastille isn't talking about the pressure to write a great novel in their song "Lethargy" but, nonetheless, it plays in my head when I sit down in front of a blank page.

So how do we keep going when we're weighed down with pressure, almost before we've even begun?  Here are my tips for tackling your writing goals, whether you participate in NaNoWriMo or not:

1. Write Now.

Some people will make excuses. Others will write. Those excuses might be valid, by the way, and there are many great writers who completely ignore NaNoWriMo. That's fine. But if YOU want to participate, then don't make excuses. Go Write.

2. Don't Overthink It.

When I was learning to keyboard by touch, I always wanted to look back over my typing before I had even finished a line. When I resisted that urge, I was more accurate than I feared I would be. Writing is similar. I always want to edit while writing -- and maybe there's a time for that, but during NaNoWriMo is not that time. If you want to mount up your words, don't analyze what you've written along the way. Just write and keep going!

3. Don't Get Side Tracked.

Outlining is great. Research is great. Searching for names and settings and synonyms for "red" might be necessary to craft the story you want to tell, but during November, I suggest you resist the impulse to do any of that. Let your draft be messy, with names like Dr. Whatshisnamefromchapterone, parenthetical questions like (is the center of a feather a shaft? A stem?) or vague statements to fudge over stuff you haven't figured out yet, like Jane walked down to the shore of Lake ??? and thought about...I haven't figured it out, until...

4. Let Yourself be Awful.

Yes. Use cliches. Be overly-dramatic, if necessary, just so long as you keep writing. You can make it better later, during editing.

5. Treat Every Day Like Day One.

Didn't do so well yesterday? Don't even think about it. Today is your day for writing! Seize it and write on. Write Now.

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