NaNoWriMo 2016: Some Thoughts pre-Day One

So, tomorrow is National Novel Writing Month. From Nov 1-Nov 30, thousands of people will be writing a novel, ranging through every genre imaginable. Some people will be writing their very first novel, others will be working on a draft, and some will simply be doing it for the community, as a fun exercise and simply an excuse to write more (which is always good).

Okay. Now what?

Writing a novel isn't easy. For many people, seeing that first blank page and writing the first sentence can be daunting, especially if you are hoping to write something that settles between 50,000 and 120,000 words. The goal for NaNoWriMo is simply to write 50,000, which is the short end of what is considered the 'adult novel.' Now, most of us will need to go far beyond that initial scope in order to have a truly completed draft. But for the month of November, concentrating on the 1,600 or so a day is all you need to do. And if you try and meet this small goal, you'll be surprised how it adds up, and how much easier it gets to move along from idea to idea, page to page.

Some pointers on how to be successful:

There are many, many word processor programs out there. Finding one that works for you (and something better than Microsoft Word or Pages) is ideal. I've used Scrivener to write over half a dozen novels, and it is by far my favorite. But the point is, you shouldn't be working against your tool. If you like paper and pencil, that's great too. Just work in your medium.

Stay focused. Even when you aren't writing, you are writing. Think about your novel. Think about what works and what doesn't. If you have an epiphany, jot it down. Try and keep yourself in a good mental place for whatever type of novel you are writing. 

When it comes to the actual process, remove distraction but also engage in things that keep you focused. Put on music you like, sit in a comfortable chair, have snacks and drinks that keep your focus and don't tire you. Let yourself enter writing as a sort of meditation.

Don't let frustration stop you. If a sentence isn't coming, if the plot doesn't feel natural, start writing something else. Move on to the next chapter, introduce a radical concept, action, or character, do whatever it takes to move through the First Draft. The First Draft is a playground, it's a sandbox. The novel you will eventually end up with will look almost nothing like the First Draft, so don't feel too attached to it.

In the end, all the matters is getting words on the page. That's the most important part of NaNoWriMo, and I'll be doing more blogs on my thoughts of the writing process!