Shaking my Rainbow Pom-poms: A NaNoWriMo Pep Talk for Week One

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Look at you, you’re writing a novel! Take a second and give yourself a high five. In my experience, the first week of NaNoWriMo is either an amazing honeymoon period with your new book or its a week that feels like a series of awkward dates. In the honeymoon scenario you’re completely smitten with your story and you want to be with it all the time. Your ideas are plentiful, your dialogue is cracking, and no one has left the cap off the toothpaste tube yet. If you’re currently having a love affair with your book, enjoy it. Write like crazy.

Nanocheer

If you’re in the second camp, you may feel like you kind of know your characters but you’re still working out what Hogwart’s house to sort them into, and whether they like spinach, or if they drink fruity cocktails or are more likely to go for scotch. You might be asking yourself, is this really a story you can spend the next 50,000 words (or more with)? Don’t worry. Unlike your unpleasant date, you can change your book. You can sort out those characters and who they need to be to make your story work. It’s OK if it takes you half the month to figure it out.

So far this month I have written at least a couple thousand words that are a total mess. Clunky prose. Clunkier than the car the Beverly Hillbillies drove. But sometimes I have to write a terrible scene with awful dialogue and events that happen too fast or lack any semblance of subtlety to figure out how to write the scene the next time. My teenage characters sound like grown-ups. They are processing like a couple of 30-year-olds. It’s wildly unrealistic. But November isn’t for fixing that crap. Get it on paper, move on, fix it later.

If you happen to be having a little trouble keeping up with the word count, that’s okay. Don’t let the little graph get you down. If it tells you that you’re thousands of words behind, DO NOT PANIC. Repeat after me, “I have plenty of time to make it up.” You really, really do. Please remember that there’s no need to stick with a scene that isn’t working. So maybe your characters need to go graduate from the star academy before they will be allowed to pilot the rocket but honestly you just want them to jump to light speed? Who cares! Skip around. Write the scenes you want to write and fill in the rest later. Those scenes are word count boosters just lying around. Gobble them up.

Finally, NaNo is hard. But we’re here for you. Seriously, you can talk to other NaNo-ers here in the comments section or in the forum over on the NaNo site. I hope you will seek each other out and seek me out if you have questions or need a boost. You can do this. You can do this as surely as Rachel could climb on top of that car and yell, “You’re a wanker number 9.”

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