Friday, November 4, 2016

The Perks of Being a Rebel NaNo-er

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo six times. The first three times, I hit 50k, which was awesome; the next three times, I didn’t, which was less awesome. Sure, I still had more words on the page than I’d had on October 31, but the further I fell behind in the word count goal each year, the more I felt like a failure. (And I admit, all those I-wrote-twenty-bajilion-words-today tweets from my fellow NaNo-ers didn’t exactly make me feel any better about my measly progress.)

But here’s the thing. My “measly progress” doesn’t bother me anymore, because I’ve come a long way in understanding what works for me—and what doesn’t. Fast-drafting? Not so much. I’m a muller, a pantser, a ponderer, an edit-while-I-write-er, and while there is absolutely something to be said for fast-drafting, it’s not the only way to write a novel.

Oddly, I still tend to catch a touch of NaNo-fever come the end of October each year, and I jump in with enthusiasm. But I do so fully intending to cheat. To break rules. To be a rebel NaNo-er.


(Any NaNo purists among you will be utterly appalled. I’m sorry! Please don’t run me out of NaNo town. We all gotta do what we gotta do to get the words written.)

If you’ve resisted NaNoWriMo because it just doesn’t sound right for you, let me encourage you to take the leap this year and become a rebel NaNo-er. Why? I thought you’d never ask…

The perks of being a rebel NaNo-er:

FUEL: When you start, you set a goal, along with thousands of other writers, and you commit to it. Maybe most people are following the “rules” and aiming for 50 thousand words. You? Rules schmules. You need to revise a chapter a day? Ok, that’s your goal. You need to write for an hour a day, five days a week? Go for it. Whatever will get you where you want to be on November 30, name it. Set that as your goal. Goals (and deadlines) have power—they rev up your motivation, and knowing that all those other writers are revved up and writing at the same time is serious fuel as you move toward your goal. And hey, those word count tweets that used to taunt you about your paltry total? They’re fuel too. They’re reminders to keep going. They’re energy shots. They’re bursts of you-can-do-this! Fuel, hon. The NaNoWriMo experience is fuel to get you where you want to be.

COMMITMENT: It’s only thirty days. (Less now…so what? Start now. Four weeks—or three or two or whatever you commit to—will bring you closer to your goal than you are right now.) The end is practically in sight, even when you’re poised on the starting line. Yes, you can focus on your writing for thirty days. Yes, you can give it priority. Your household won’t completely fall apart if you neglect the vacuuming and spend a bit extra on take-out dinners. Thousands of writers are, right now, putting writing on the top of their to-do lists. You’re not the only one sacrificing TV shows and basic hygiene to reach your goals. This is important to you. Take advantage of NaNo's focus on getting 'er done. Committing to NaNoWriMo helps you make writing a priority.


FUN: Whether you’re fast-drafting, slow-drafting, brainstorming, outlining, or revising, the NaNo buzz is your friend. The madness of writing in every free moment, of creating free moments where there were none, of dedicating yourself to your goals, all else be damned (at least for the next few weeks), and of knowing you’re surrounded by a huge community of equally mad writers chasing headlong after their goals…it’s the best. And it’s absolutely a terrific way of letting your creativity run free. See, your inner editor doesn’t do NaNo. He’s not allowed. Just as well, because NaNo terrifies him. So he’s over there sulking in a corner, and you’re having fun. You’re playing with words. Tap into the NaNo madness. When you write with joyful abandon, you so often surprise yourself, and your creativity thrives. How fun is that?!

So go ahead. Dive into NaNoWriMo. Take advantage of the fuel, the commitment, the fun it provides, but don’t be afraid to bend the rules—or toss them out altogether. Scrap the word count, you rebel, and mark your NaNo by hours or chapters or bursts of uncontrolled laughter or number of Halloween treats consumed…whatever you need to do to make it work for you. This is your month. Your NaNo. Your goal. Have a blast!






12 comments:

  1. This is MY kind of NaNo! I've bent their rules before, and am totally bending them this year.

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    1. Like mother, like daughter... haha! Whatever helps us get words on the page, right? :D

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  2. I've rebelled before! With 20k wordcount goals, or WIP editing goals.

    No rules, just write.

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  3. Oh, I love the idea of being a rebel NaNo-er. Why? Because I've tried to do NaNoWriMo and dropped out before a week was over! Like you, I’m "a muller, a pantser, a ponderer, an edit-while-I-write-er," and I just couldn't do the speed thing. But I do like setting my own daily goal for a month. I finished a book before my husband and I took a 5 week trip, during which we were so busy that I got away from writing. this might be just the thing!

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    1. It's so important to find what works for us. As a fellow muller/pantser, I'm all for rebelling and re-shaping NaNo into something that'll keep us writing. Good luck to you!

      (If you ever want to try the speed thing again, Denise Jaden has a super-helpful book called "Fast Fiction".)

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  4. I love this attitude! I'm doing a NaNo at a slower pace, but as long as I work on something writing related each day, I feel like I'm making progress.

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    1. We absolutely have to do what's going to work for us in the long haul. Hooray for progress! :D

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  5. This is SO AWESOME! I will read/share this is me and I am also taking some of writing club kids down the rebel road, too. They've asked can they work on, rewrite an old novel. Can they change their goal (30k) to something a little less daunting. Can they fix as they go (I have one who cannot bear to to not fix at least a little). Naturally my answers are yes. Besides, this is is the first time ever for some of them so I sure don't want to be scaring them off with "have to's" and the energy and excitement of writing with them as they realize they can shape this month to what will work is inspiring to be around. We wrote together on Friday and another question came up. Can we keep going when November is over? Thanks for the post!

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    1. How fantastic to see that enthusiasm with the kids!! Awesome! Shaping a writing routine and/or writing challenge in a way that keeps the fun and joy in it makes all the difference. <3

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  6. Is that rules are meant for--breaking? Go for it.

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