The days leading up to NaNoWriMo are often filled with anticipation, excitement, and the undeniable desire to start typing. You brainstorm, you talk to your NaNo buddies, and may even secretly squee a little bit.
Then November 1st arrives and you’re a writing machine.
The muse is strong within you. The words pour from your fingers like syrup onto pancakes. It’s so smooth, sweet, and delectable. At three in the morning you’re loathe to stop, but know in four hours you have to get up for the dreaded day job.
The eloquent words that fall from your lips may be something like: “Stupid day job is stupid.” At three in the morning, who can blame you?
This is the pattern for the first few days. You keep up, or even surpass your word count goal. Everything is going according to the plan–or the pantser is enjoying winging it. Whichever.
Around the end of the second week, I’ve noticed, is when the excitement starts to dwindle. Life is being a consistent distraction, your eyes are crossing from the view of your word processor, you find yourself scrolling through Tumblr more than actually writing, or worse–the plot is now being an enormous butt and not doing what you want.
Still you press on. A little behind, a little discouraged, but determined to keep writing. The words have slowed to the speed of molasses in January and you just can’t find the motivation to go on. That slinky on your desk is looking mighty entertaining right about now.
By mid November, people start dropping like flies. They’ve fallen so behind in word count they just give up, or the excitement from NaNo has dwindled so much, they just don’t have the motivation to keep going. The processor is closed, the website forgotten about, and the characters dwindle away in the ether.
It isn’t easy with day to day life. School, work, family, friends. NaNo is a challenge–
BUT if you keep the excitement it helps with the drive to keep writing. So, how do you do that? Here’s a few suggestions.
1.) Find NaNo Buddies – And not just the people you add to your list. Find people you can chat with on a daily basis. There are several free IM clients out there, including Hangouts, Yahoo Instant Messenger, and Skype. You can also chat with your buddies in real time on Skype once a week. Maybe read your pages to each other, brainstorm, talk about your frustrations, etc. Having NaNo Buddies is essential.
2.) Don’t Be Afraid To Skip Scenes – You don’t have to write in a linear fashion. If a scene is dragging you down or mucking you up, skip it and move on to something you are dying to write. You can always come back with a transition scene later. If your muse thrumming for a certain part of the novel WRITE THAT PART.
3.) Attend Write-Ins – We can’t all attend the official Write-Ins because of work, or family, or it’s too far, or whatever. If you can attend the official, go for it! You’ll meet new people and have tons of fun. If you can’t, make your own! This can be at a local business, or even online. Virtual Write-Ins are a thing. You can schedule it using the official chatroom, Chatzy, or Skype. There’s plenty of ways to do this. Virtual Write-Ins are especially good for things like Writing Sprints. Have mini competitions to see who can write the most words in a certain amount of time.
4.) Blog Hops/Character Interviews – There are quite a few of these that you can do in regards to your writing process, your protagonist, villain, etc. It’s usually a few questions that you get to answer, or cast your characters so people can see how you imagine them in your head. Things like that. You answer and then you tag someone else. This is where your NaNo Buddies can come in to help keep them motivated.
5.) Get On Twitter – Twitter is a great place to find other people doing NaNo. People are much more encouraging then you might think. You can follow @NaNoWrimo and #NaNoWriMo to see what’s going on, who’s doing sprints, etc and so on. Beware though, Twitter can also be a distraction. Learn how to pace yourself with it.
In the end, the way to keep the excitement going is to enjoy the full experience of NaNoWriMo. Don’t just hide in your room typing away. Enjoy it with other people. They say writing is a solitary endeavor, but I’ve found, that’s not exactly true. Write, enjoy, and keep the excitement all month long!