Advice for NaNoWriMo Newbies

Here’s some great advice from Skye, the NaNo Municipal Liaison for Arizona’s East Valley writing group. I totally agree with everything she says, so I will just repost her words of wisdom that she sent out to us this afternoon.

Don't let this be you!

I’ve been getting quite a few frazzled newbies inquiring after advice for this great adventure we start tomorrow. So here are 4 Truths to comfort you this NaNo season. May they see you well.

Truth #1: First drafts are NEVER perfect.
So don’t expect yours to be! All seasoned writers, especially professional ones, will attest this is a universal truth. Any who say otherwise are lying through their hats (whatever that means, but they’re still lying). This November, your story will veer helplessly into gray, boring areas. The dialogue will get away from you – as well as your characters. But don’t despair! Just wrangle everything as well as you can, and once you’ve got your 50,000 words nice and settled in, you can attack them in December with editing vigor and cut and add and polish until they shine. First: get your words written. THEN worry about perfection.

Truth #2: “Writer’s Block” does not exist.
So many people talk about the horrors of “writer’s block.” I am here to tell you now: it does not exist. What we call “writer’s block” is usually one of two things: (1) merely a hitch in the story, be it an uncooperative character, a plot falling short of its mark, or general confusion as to where the darn story is going! Or (2) just laziness, which is a disease that can run rampant among aspiring writers (beware!). So when you find yourself “blocking” and that horrible term pops into your head, remember: it’s all in your head. Step back – peruse your notes and read through the last few paragraphs (but don’t edit!) and see what’s hitched in your story. If you can’t find a solution, skip over the whole section and start writing in another part. Maybe once you have a better idea of where the story is going, you’ll see where you went wrong and be able to fix it later. Or evaluate your state of being – perhaps all you need is a good power nap on the couch. But don’t lay there all day – make sure you’re up and writing after a short while!

Truth #3: Writing rules are made to be broken.
There seem to be so many restrictive rules to writing that we must follow or never be accepted into the “writing community.” But think about it: if everyone followed ALL the rules of writing, would ANYONE be published? Probably not. So this November, forget all the rules! If it seems a little crazy, a little off the wall, don’t fret it! Remember: you can always edit it later. You never know what breaking the rules will inspire in your story! And as for grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation – if they’re bringing you down, ditch those too! You can correct your overabundant adjectives and break those run-on sentences after you’re done, so shut off your spellcheck and get typing!

Truth #4: Nano is about getting the idea down into words – and having fun!
Getting the story down is the hard part. Once it’s written, EVERY SINGLE WORD can be changed for the better – so don’t worry about getting it perfect the first time! Just enjoy the thrill of writing and have as much fun as possible. Nanowrimo is an exciting adventure – treat it as such!

So take a few dares (I’ll be giving some this year!) and write where your story takes you! And don’t despair. You can do this!

And with that, good luck to you all! I shall be staying up to write at midnight so I can kick my lazy butt into high gear before I get too comfy. You can add me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo website if you’d like to keep in touch throughout the month and check each other’s progress out. I look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with (including myself!)


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