Quick refresher: I’ve been published since 2006 with three publishers – the latter one I started myself after I got my rights back on my first novel, The Stork Reality. Second novel, Dating da Vinci, is still with my second publisher (though thankfully I retained movie rights because it would make an adorable movie –don’t we all say that) and my third and upcoming fourth novel as well as several anthologies and two novellas are with my imprint, Buzz Books, a publishing arm of my creative |marketing| branding firm, Athena Institute, which I happened to start the same year as my first novel came out.
All this to say: I can’t have a career as a writer without actually writing. Yes, being a business owner and mama to three active kids is a lot of work, but I wouldn’t do any of this if it weren’t a challenge. In comes NaNoWriMo. I’ll admit, I don’t like to write on new stuff in the summer. I’m not sure if it’s too much sunlight or I get hot and grumpy or I just have extra people around me with the kids being home, but I love to write the most in fall and winter. I’m not saying NaNoWriMo is a magic bullet because it’s quite illogical for most humans to write 50K in one month. I can accomplish between 1 and 2K per day if I commit myself which would be 30K in an average month, BUT I DON’T DO THAT. I should. So I sort of make up for that with a big burst in November, when we all know happens to have a big American holiday in there as well as – oh, yeah I have a book launch for SOMETHING NEW. That’s where the CraZyYo part comes in. So why am I going to do it – besides the fact that I like a challenge and I’m okay with being crazy?
I know how good it’s going to feel at the end of the month when I’ve typed “The End” on the last page of my first mystery (all my books have a bit of mystery, of course, but this one is a bonafide one). Now I like to write novels about 80K in length, give or take what the editing process is like, but since I already have 30K of my manuscript written, this means 50K from NaNo will get me to the end. Kind of cool that it worked out that way.
So that’s my “why” and here’s my “how” as well as a few tips for those of you who are considering doing it or may have tried and failed in the past (which is fine considering I logged only 2K last year and dropped it like a hot potato.) This blog is about creative mojo and you need a ton of it to sustain you during NaNo.
- Go to bed early, get up early. You could do the opposite, but due to my kids’ schedules I’m going to have to say goodnight early and make myself get up early to log as much as I can before the fam gets up and then will write for another hour before I start any client or promo work
- Write at least one evening per week. I have a writing studio in my garage (where most would have their tools). It’s hot in the summer, cold in the winter, but I swear when I’m out there, I get some major word count done. It’s dark, and I forget the cold or the heat once I’m in the story. (I do have a heater and fan, though and thank God for gloves with the fingertips cut.) But I may go to Starbucks as a treat. I do get annoyed by conversation near me, so that can sometimes produce half the word count I would get at home. Neither is foolproof because as much as I tell my kids, “don’t come out here unless you’re on fire or the house is bleeding” (that’s how I speak when I’ve been pulled from my story), I do still get interrupted.
- Write all morning one weekend morning. I write all Sunday morning and may write Saturday afternoons if it doesn’t conflict with college football. (Hey, I can’t miss everything in November.)
- Set a word count goal and put your writing in your calendar where the whole family can see it. If you write it down, you are more likely to stick to it. I “pen” it in just like I would a client meeting.
If you add all that up, you should be able to get to 50K in a month. If you miss a day, you could be screwed. Or at least I am, because it’s tough to make up that time since I still devote myself to my kids and my clients. But just because you’re writing isn’t priority One doesn’t mean it can’t be a top priority. You just let go of all that other stuff that’s not necessary in November. Maybe including football games.
You have to be tough. You have to be willing to say “no” to people. Don’t cower if people ask what you are doing. Either don’t tell them or say it with pride because you don’t want to hear the other person say that you’re crazy for attempting it. And you do not have to discuss your novel. Besides, I already said it was crazy, but we don’t care.
I’m also going away for a weekend to my daughter’s dance convention so I hope to get a few hours in there, though we will have roommates and I am going to give myself some R&R and hiking time which could actually benefit the whole process.
A few more tips:
Take care of yourself. Still get good sleep, drink lots of water and eat healthy. (I like almonds and bananas with peanut butter.) I simply can’t write when I’m starving. I also can’t think straight when I haven’t gotten enough sleep, so FOR ME, the “up all night” writing would not work. Perhaps if you are younger than me or don’t have kids or could sleep during the day – hey, whatever works. To each his/her own. I also do yoga daily and a walk so it’s important to keep some “physical” stuff in your schedule to help the whole mind/body/soul connection thing. I swear it works.
Do you have any other NaNo tips? I’ll be writing about my progress and share a few more tips on the Girlfriends Book Club blog on Nov. 8th. Before then I’ll have a launch post about Something New. I love the book so much, and I truly hope readers will, too. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Best of luck to you.
P.S. Did I mention Something New is out 11/5? The print book is actually already available online and the ebook comes out this weekend. Some early readers have already posted reviews and I am so thrilled it looks like they really enjoyed it.