This post first appeared as a NaNoWriMo NH Regional email written by Municipal Liaison, Yvette Couser
[USA :: New Hampshire]: Final Weekend Pep Talk –
Greetings Future Winners and Winners!
Welcome to the last weekend of NaNoWriMo 2014!
I hope you are all safe and warm reading this in a place that has power restored. I also hope you are all very, very proud of yourselves regardless of your word count today because you embarked on an insane, nearly impossible task of not only writing 50K words of your novel, but maybe more importantly, simply listening to that “what if” question from your creative self and saying Yes.
That’s what’s truly epic, Wrimo.
Yes, there’s been a lot going on in November, and then our Thanksgiving Nor’easter hit, throwing everything–and everything NaNo–off kilter.
But is that going to stop you from writing your novel? No. Say it with me – No! The truth is, and you all know this already, there will ALWAYS be something trying to pull you away from creating a daily writing habit – and some days it will be an outside force like a nor’easter (or not, and just a lot of demands that feel like it) and other days it will be your own self-doubt (even though you’ve got time and electricity in spades). Yes, the recent storm has slowed all of us down; it might jeopardize you reaching 50K by midnight on 11/30 – but it doesn’t have to keep you from finishing your novel, even if that means you finish on 12/1 at 2 am. Or 12/5 at 8 pm. The world needs your novel.
When our power was out and we had scrapped plans to travel for Thanksgiving (since power was out over there too), my family sat around after a lunch of hot dogs cooked on the grill playing Risk. At the end of the game, only my son and one of my daughters and I were left in the game, and it was pretty clear by the number of pieces on the board that my son was going to win. He said to us, “So, do you want to call it?” and was already moving to pack everything up and declare victory. It was my turn. I swear, a familiar switch in my head flipped, and maybe it was the lack of tryptophan in my system, or maybe exhaustion from shoveling snow, or something in the hot dog, but suddenly I was like William Wallace, grabbing the dice and taking the challenge (if William Wallace ever played Risk). “No! We’re going to play this game, and we’re going to play it until the end!”
“But you’re going to lose! He exclaimed, shocked.
“Maybe, but I’m going to take down as many of your troops as possible in the process!”
Sure, I could have nodded in agreement, shook hands and said “Good game” and then wandered off to go read a book by the light of my headlamp. And that would have been fine. But the goal in a power outage is to keep everything really interesting and upbeat to help pass the time. I wrote this earlier – that challenge develops character and also reveals character and in this case I was very aware of what kind of behavior I was modeling for my kids during a power outage that seriously made the holiday suck for everyone. I could go off and sulk and make it worse for myself and everyone else (and teach them that this behavior was ok) or I could power through and make the best of it exclaiming everything to be “An Adventure!”
What ensued was a ridiculous and very funny beat down of 20 minutes of extended game play of my son cleaning up the board. We were laughing so hard and screaming so loud that we started to become hoarse. The others who had already left the game wandered back in to see what the heck was going on. It was fun and funny and probably one of the best memories I have of the Nor’easter of Thanksgiving.
Listen, full disclosure: I’m the kind of person who, when they hear a challenge, or even something that only slightly smells like a challenge, I take it. When someone says something is impossible, I’m already thinking – hmm…I bet we can do this. (Let’s be serious, here, I work in the ever-fluctuating field of librarianship. And basically, this is how I spend my day at work toying with the question – what needs to change in this library to keep it relevant in 2014? What kind of resources do I need in order to do this? And if I try and fail, at least I tried big and failed big. A lot of times though, I’ll try big and succeed big. The existence of libraries in a community is too important for me to just shrug and walk away from a challenge or a problem. Some people have criticized me for being a dreamer and my response is – Fine, but what’s wrong with that? My mother survived the war and was a fighter but ironically was the person in my life who constantly said – This is impossible or You can’t do this, so I grew up in an environment where I had to constantly create a work-around. It was rough growing up under that kind of negativity but I’m really thankful to have this tool as an adult)
You’ve already signed on for the 50K challenge, Wrimo, and I ask you – I dare you – pick up this next challenge. Set a new word count and meet it, or go wild and charge on to 50K. Don’t just pack up the game. You have the resources. Be a dreamer. Yes, it will mean committing to a combination of discipline and pushing through some rough-quality writing, lack of sleep and no Facebooking. But even if you’re 20K behind, it can be done. I’ve seen Wrimos in past years write an incredible 10K per day to come from way behind and finish. I’m going to try to pull something like that off myself this weekend. But you haven’t truly experienced NaNoWriMo if you haven’t pulled an all-nighter, writing a bunch of pages that you have no memory of writing, and oh, my, think of the stories you’ll have to tell in December.
I’m going to stop pep talking (1802 words) so I can get back to catching up so I’m sending along some very good “I’m-behind-so-what-do-I-do?” advice from your fellow NH Wrimos. If you have some of your own words of wisdom that you’d like to share to cheer everyone along, add it to the thread “Behind on word count – what do you do?” on the Forum.
You can do this, Wrimo! We can do this! I’ll seeyou on the other side of 50K!
What I’m going to do is attempt to get like 10k words on Saturday or something. Either that or write as much as I can each day. – homophone (future winner)
I guess I’m going to have to take Saturday to try to make a serious dent. JLRREED (future winner)
I’ve been writing pen-and-paper since the beginning. It’s a little extra work to figure out your word count, but you should still be able to validate it at the end. I say keep writing. Abandon the laptop if its power concerns are slowing you down. Write like our ancestors did every November, by turkey quill and candlelight. Rae AJ (future winner)
Lots of dialogue, and put in the speaker attributions later. If it sucks, you can fix it in editing. Those aren’t just my ideas. I have a book called The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, and there is a chapter called “7 Tools for Talk” by James Scott Bell. He says doing this is a great way to break through writer’s fatigue. You can also write the narrative later, and hopefully you will find something worth keeping. You may learn something about your characters, or have something you didn’t intend that you want to keep. You can get good lines that are worth keeping if you just start with the dialogue and pour it out quickly. Anyway, just my two cents. – brycenh (winner)
I just have to make peace with the fact that my graph will be very messy this year, haha. –MizBlue (future winner)
Sprints! Wars! Put in your headphones, shut off your internet, and become a recluse until you get as caught up as you can. And, if that doesn’t work, and you have absolutely no hope of finishing, simply understand that the point of NaNo is not winning — it’s writing. As long as you have dedicated yourself to this task and put effort into it, as long as you are proud of what you have written (no matter the quality), you have not lost. “Winning” is dedication and effort, not 50,000 words. 50,000 words is just the bonus. Good luck! I hope it works out, but if it doesn’t there is always next year! – SerenaAnnRose (winner)
Like SerenaAnnRose, I recommend joining in on the Word Sprints! Find a group of people who will stay up late and hold each other accountable through messages on here for the two hours you all (or two of you, even) commit to writing during! Also, be gentle with yourself. I find that if I say to myself, “You have to write 6,000 words to catch up and you have to do it today,” I become so intimidated by that task that I fail at heart before I even begin. Instead, look at your “words to write per day to finish” meter on your novel’s stats page. 6,000 words this evening might seem undoable. 1,800 words per day might not. All of the best! You’ve got this! Note: and if you don’t have this? No worries! Look at what you DO have! 11,000 words that you and the world didn’t have before. That sounds like a huge success to me. – Hanzesque (future winner)
I use my old mantra, which I’ve been using for 10 years and teaching for at least 3 – DON’T THINK, JUST WRITE!!!!!! When I really need to get words on the page, I simply do not allow myself to censor any thought or plot digression or ridiculous conversation – I keep my fingers typing (or scribbling) as fast as they will go. Of course, you are really thinking – duh – but I think it’s kind of like the Meisner Technique in acting. It’s meant to bypass that part of your brain that second-guesses you and says no, no, no! Anyway, I’m really not “thinking tonight” as I try to close that final gap of 10,000 odd words. Hope all of you are having similar luck, and finding writing time over the holiday! – Deborah.d.harbin (future winner)
check out nanowordsprints on twitter for 24 hours continuous sprinting prompts – wilabea94 (future winner)