Oh the places you'll go

Word count: 391                          Reading time: 1-2 minutes

Week One of NaNoWriMo has come and gone. To me this month is always like a wild journey. I think I know where I’m headed when I write my one sentence outline: This is a book about ________ who wants ________ but ___________ gets in the way. But I usually end up somewhere quite different than I first visualize.

This November 1st, I filled in those blanks and launched myself into the work. To help me navigate the course, I armed myself with some ground rules:

  • Do it. Just sit down and write. Or, in the words of Louis L’Amour: The first essential is just to write. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.
  • Don’t let perfectionism kill the story. Remind yourself of Natalie’s Goldberg’s golden rule: give yourself permission to write crap.
  • Stay organized. Within reason. This is not the month to tidy the tax file, repaint the living room, or arrange the bookshelves alphabetically according to genre. But it is the month to clear off your desk so that only things that help with the novel catch your eye. Push everything else into a drawer.
  • Remember to laugh. To help you do this, Debbit Ridpath Ohi and Errol Elumir have created a NaNoWriMo cartoon-a-day website.
  • Go to local events. Last week the City of North Vancouver Library hosted five YA writers. These wonderful women gave generously of their time and I was well rewarded for carving out three hours for their workshops. I came back to the keyboard with a better direction and clearer sense of purpose. Thank you, Eileen Cook, Denise Jaden, Catherine Knutsson, Mindi Scott, and Joelle Anthony.
  • Don’t forget the music. My novel is moving to a dystopian kind of place so I’ve had Godspeed You! Black Emperor playing Mladic in the background. It’s music of impending dread, like something dark looming on the horizon. Perfect.
  • Take care of yourself. Do all those boring things like eat well, get enough sleep, and squeeze in a walk around block if you can. It helps to be fit when you’re wrestling demons.

Have you done NaNoWriMo before? What is helping you with it this year? Is the story unfolding according to your plan? Or will your destination be some place you couldn't quite see when you set out?


Photo by: Bibigon