Note: I want to apologize in advance for the anemia of this entry, I have had a very long and exciting day. Make sure to go get a full meal from yesterday's post written by my lovely irowboat about discovering characters. His perspective is unique and astute.
NaNoWriMo is a marathon, and no one goes to a marathon without training. No one who wants to survive anyway.
We're closing in on the last half of October, only thirteen days until the Main Event. I know a lot of people getting ready for NaNo right now are focusing on their stories, trying to work out what to do and what to write.
But if you are not, don't worry. I promise that as long as we keep writing, it will work out. For all those about to NaNo, pantsers or planners alike will end up with what feels like a bunch of wet toilet paper held together with a vague idea and lots of words at the end. The rush comes from having that soggy little mess and knowing it is ours, we made it.
Don't worry much about the story just yet, it will come or it will be forced, but as long as we are relentless in the persuit of our goal, we will finish.
For now, practice.
Take time each day or most days and write. Not only to prepare to write your novel, but to research how you write best. Write in bars and coffee shops and breakfast joints. Write in different places in your house, with different music playing, at different times of day, with the television on or off.
We write to find out what environment we need, acting as anthropologists researching the writer within, see what makes them come out to play. Everyone needs something different; do not worry if your best environment is late at night with campy horror movies playing in the background. If it makes us write, it is what we need.
In writing practice we also learn what it feels like to sit down and write most days, some days, whatever works and is enough to finish. We learn that even when writing feels impossible, if we are trained, we can still eke out five hundred or a thousand words.
And trust me, an extra five hundred or one thousand words can make all the difference.
Learn now to sit and write on demand, or at least to carve the time for writing. Learn how the writer part of you ticks. Get in a habit of writing now, and know that you have the ability to sit down and do it when it really counts.
Practice writing without editing, without backspacing. Practice writing from the hip, practice writing crap, utter, total crap. Use a pen and notebook so there is no backspace key if you must, but get used to the idea of just writing for the words and the feel of forward momentum.
Do your best to write things other than your NaNo novel. Even a great idea will be old by the end of 50,000 words (believe me). Best to not tire ourselves out with it before the fun even begins. And really, don't you want those words to count toward the final 50,000 anyway?