NaNoWriMo arrived here quarter of an hour ago and I am completely unprepared.
If I had been more organised, here’s how I would have sorted myself out to begin this epic thirty battle against writer’s block and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Yeah, you’d think that ‘Have a Plot’ would be first, right? Nah. Having a plot is minimal compared with making sure that you have enough resources to last you the month. Had I been more organised, I would have hit up Sainsbury’s by now and stocked up on hummus, crumpets, tortillas, Ribena (litres and litres) and apples. Food that you can eat with one hand is key. Food that you can eat without thinking about it is even better. Food which evokes the thoughts and feelings you want your characters to be expressing would be perfection, but unlikely.
Of course, you’ll want to procrastinate at time and cooking is an excellent way to do this during NaNo. Wandering down to the shops for goodies may be too much extra time, so keep a stock of lentils, potatos, beans, couscous, tinned tomatoes, rice and onions…anything you can throw together in a tasty melange…and eat with a fork from a bowl. No fuss, no muss.
Drinking is also very important. If you write better when you’re drunk then better keep a bottle of Jack at hand. Everyone writes better when they’re hydrated, hence the Ribena. Also good are tea, coffee and fruit juice. Sugar may be what saves you, though I usually rock a phat pint of water. Hardcore.
And how could I forget chocolate? Good quality chocolate for when you hit the daily 2k mark, or weekly 14k.
Plan your treats. Positive motivation is important during NaNo. Sometimes the sheer euphoria of writing 2k a day just won’t cut it and you need to bribe yourself. The first few days are plain sailing, usually. You plot outline (if you created one) is fresh in your mind. You’re sure that all your characters will behave. You can see who they fall in love with, how they defeat the three pronged, glowing armoured she-beast Aragnarok and when the hero finally reads the Nazi war diaries of his amour. The words will flow from your fingers like rivers down a mountain…then stop. This is when the bribes come in. Dark chocolate for every 4k, Wolverine:Origins after 25k, asking that boy out if you don’t hit 40k in three weeks…you get the idea. Whatever it takes to push you, you’ll need. Unless you’re the sort who can’t stop themselves writing, in which case every month is NaNo for you and you can just hang out on the boards and laugh at us less prolific mortals.
Wherever you plan to work, make it workable in-able. If you have a desk, tidy it. If you don’t have a desk, get one. I recently put my laptop on my desk and immediately felt more productive. I’d been keeping it on my bed and working amongst my pillows…and I’ve been rrrreally lazy lately. As soon as I sat down at my desk, I wanted to work. So make sure that where you’re typing or writing is somewhere which inspires you to write, rather than sleep.
I meant to tidy my desk (and my room) today, and procrastinated, but if I had, I would have organised it so that I had several working pens in my jamjar, a handy notebook and whatever books had been useful in my research (had I done any) in the pile next to me. (See below for a tour of my deskspace…). Also make sure there’s enough room for your workstuff plus a bowl and glass for when you’re eating and typing. Knocking drinks onto keyboards and causing computers to short = the most possible fun!
If you don’t already have some then inspirational posters. I mean huge prints of that park where you sat in Prague that time or the canals of Venice. Something which takes your mind to a different (preferably calming) place and reinvigorates you to write.
Okay, so having a plot outline is a bit important. Not a lot important, but a bit. The only reason I have one this year is because I’m continuing with my dissertation; breaking one of the rules of NaNo which is that you are supposed to start from scratch. Dammit though, I’m going to finish my idea. Had I got off my rear, I would have written about doing some brief research and having a vague plot outline before-hand, but since NaNo began half an hour ago in the UK, I don’t think that advice is very relevant now.
However. About a week in you might find yourself throwing your vague plot-outline out the door and down the street, dancing as the scraps of paper float on the wind towards the pale blue sky…NaNo novels NEVER turn out how you planned. Characters take over and start deciding what they want to say, which usually means you have to change what they do, which changes how they interact with the others and suddenly your epic fantasy exploration of a whole new world novel turns into a literary analysis of the letter ‘ll’. Protagonists become tertiary characters, antagonists get all the sympathy, rabbits rule the world…shit changes.
Go with it. NaNo is all about knocking your inner editor on the head and just getting shit writ down. December is for editing.
My Messy Desk
The Completely Useless (for NaNo) items which clutter my Desk
Wish me luck as I embark on NaNo, almost completely unprepared! This ole blog will definitely be turning more towards the writing-analysis this month, and may also contain a lot of ranting about my characters or that lack of information on 19th Century etiquette available in my library. I’ll also be posting a lot about how to survive NaNo; certified tips and tricks from my wealth of expertise. (Okay, I’ve done it twice and won it once – but I’m still alive, and that’s the important thing.) Good luck!