Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

October 20, 2013

Writer's fuel.  Image from atouchoffrench.

I've got my RWA Chapter meeting today.  I've been a member of LARA (Los Angeles Romance Authors) RWA for about a year now; I try to make it out to as many meetings as I can.  This is the first community of writers I've joined, and though I am a shy sort, they have been welcoming and supportive from day one, providing mentorship and tons of resources.

Today's workshop will be run by San Diego writer and novelist Rick Ochocki.  He's going to be talking about getting ready for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, one of my favorite things in the world besides Laduree macarons and happy trails on hot men.

Jake Gyllenhaal's very happy happy trail.  Image from cinemascomics2.
During NaNo, people around the world pledge to write a novel of 50,000 words during the month of November.  That equals 1,667 words a day, no excuses.

I completed my first NaNo manuscript in November 2012 and my second during Camp NaNoWriMo in July 2013.  I'm excited to be doing this again in November 2013, but I fear I don't have the juice to get word count in and I'm nervous that my day job is so demanding of late that I'll get run down pretty easily.

Despite this jumble of emotions, I'm going to go forward, automaton-like, and see what pops up.  I've always wanted to be a writer, but I second-guessed myself at every possible step before I got started.  As NaNo's creator Chris Baty has said, "Novels are written by everyday people who give themselves permission to write novels."  NaNo gave me the permission I needed, and I know how valuable this gift is.
Love books?  Write one!  Poster available at nanowrimo.org.
Vouloir, c'est pouvoir, as le French say.  So I'm using the following list, written by Kurt Vonnegut and uploaded by Maria Popova on her blog Brain Pickings, to help me get into the right headspace for NaNo 2013.
  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.