We’re already halfway through October and it doesn’t feel like nearly enough time to get everything done and ready. November–and NaNo–is approaching rapidly, which is why I wanted to take a moment to share a few reminders.
Breathe. It’s okay if you need to take a break, even in the midst of the hectic writing event that is NaNo. Remember to give yourself some breathing space and room. Before you put pen to paper in the next few weeks, look at your upcoming calendar. Block out the time you’ll need to hit your goal, and don’t forget to add in some time to calm yourself and focus.
Be ready for anything. Life has a way of happening when we really don’t need or want it to. Things go wrong like computers getting fried, or work suddenly piling up. Be prepared for those things and don’t forget to back up your work as much as possible. Save early and save often to prevent losses from crashes or power outages. Keep copies stored in a couple of different places, just in case something does happen.
In that same vein though, be prepared for things to go right. Inspiration can strike at any time, and those moments where it all clicks together is occasionally an inopportune moment when you can’t stop what you’re doing and rush to write the brilliant solution. Keep a notepad handy for jotting down notes, or set a reminder to your calendar for when you’ve got a few more minutes.
It’s only the start. I know, you’re staring at that going ‘what do you mean the start? I’m getting ready to write fifty-thousand words!’ To which I say: Good, go for it! But also remember that you’re doing this in thirty days. Even if you’re rebelling and working on something you’ve done previously, it is highly unlikely you’re producing a perfect, polished and ready-to-go final draft that can be plopped right into the publishing machine.
If you finish NaNo with the full 50k, congrats! Celebrate a little, but don’t forget to do things like edit and polish later. Give yourself a time to come down off the rush of accomplishing a first draft and let your story settle so you can look at what really needs to be changed.
If you don’t finish NaNo, that’s okay too! You’re trying and that’s the important part. Keep working on that draft until it’s done, be that at fifty-thousand words, or a hundred and twenty-thousand words. Sometimes NaNo is a great way to get us started writing and to prove what we can and can’t do. But it’s only the first step in a long journey, keep putting one word down after another and you’ll get where you’re going eventually.
Embrace your potential. This month is going to be full of highs and lows. You may end up at the end of November with fifty-thousand words, or you may end up with only five thousand words. Anything is possible with NaNo, embrace it, and give it your best. You’ll never know what you can do until you try it.