As we all know, it's that time of year again.
NaNoWriMo. Thirty days of literary abandon, the chance to cast aside our normal lives for a time and to finally write a novel.
I have done some seven NaNos before this year, some much more successful than the others. Some years my schedule was fairly light and clear, others I don't now how I managed to fit in the words between all the things I had to get done.
And after seven NaNoWriMos and this entire year of a novel each month, if I could give just one bit of advice to begin with, one thing to say that makes the work to do in November easier, it would be to clear your to-do list in October.
In my last post, I talked about this for a daily or weekly practice, to get a few things done before writing so the anxiety of things to do doesn't take over.
But this is another deal entirely. NaNoWriMo is an intense experience, and many who attempt it have never written this many words together before, let alone in so short a time.
There's a lot of advice out there about planning and pre-planning, most of them writerly things to do in the days ramping up to November (I'll debunk most of these later), but few people seem to be talking about what really gets in the way during NaNo. The writing part is difficult, true. Getting the ideas and words, fending off the fear of success and fear of failure and perfectionism is all incredibly hard. But really, it's the other parts of life that get in the way.
During NaNo, we need to be able to focus on writing as much as possible.
So, my first piece of advice before NaNo is to clear that to-do list. Stock up on food and cleaning supplies, get all the bills paid and schedule payments, clean all the clothing possible, and get the winterizing done around the house. Think of as many petty and important and annoying things that might take up time we could be using for writing.
Really work hard on getting it all done, tire yourself out. Try to think of at least twenty things to do. (Pawning off Thanksgiving cooking on someone else is a really good idea, by the way.)
And in November, when the Main Event starts, as prepared or unprepared as we may feel, at least there will be twenty fewer things around to distract us from what is really important:
Getting to 50,000 words and earning that winner certificate.