Cariad Eccleston

Just a gin-filled dork.

The two things I reckon you need to know to succeed at NaNoWriMo

07 November 2017

Every so often, I check out the #NaNoWriMo hashtags on Twitter and WordPress to see what folks are up to.

And tonight, I’ve seen a lot of people talking about reaching the end of the first week and losing their energy already.

And – oh boy – I know it. My brother and sisters, I know it.

And I can’t promise that these are right for you, but here are the two things that I know I need to punch through the bad days and succeed at NaNoWriMo.

#1. Remember: You’re writing a first draft, not a final draft.

Here’s an direct copy of a random chunk of my first draft of “Esthree Postbuild vs the Void Rock”:

“They’re beautiful,” said Esthree. “I saw one on the Moors once, but not this close.”

“Aye, that’s where I got my flock. Found ‘em wild, and brought them back here to look after ‘em. I’ve been training these monsters since they were kits.”

“Don’t they belong to the Grey Monks?”

“The Grey Monks don’t exist,” Bolide interjected.

An air-rippling laugh came across the fire. “Hah! Oh, don’t you believe it! Legend says the black dragons arrived with the monks, yeah, but ain’t no law says they belong. And what are they gonna do about it, anyway? Come after me? Hah! You know why you never see those monks off the moors?”

Bolide rolled her eyes, and continued eating her chicken leg.

But Esthree was entranced. Hurrible had posed an awesome question.

There are a hundred things wrong with this writing. The dialogue is junky. “interjected” is probably the wrong word to use there. “An air-rippling laugh came across the fire” is an awful phrase.

But, you know what? It doesn’t matter, and I don’t care.

Because it’s a first draft.

It’s word-vomit.

It’s stream-of-consciousness.

It’s getting the story out onto the page as rough as hell, so you can polish it later.

That’s editing, and that happens next month.

In November, you only have to vomit.

#2. Remember: What’s your motivation?

There’s no kick-in-the-pants like recognising your motivation, and keeping it close to your thoughts so you can bring it in when you need it.

See, I’m in debt. I made some terrible life choices, and ended up living off credit cards for way too long. Years on, I’m still paying the interest and barely making a dent in the problem.

What I need is a bit of cash on the side. It doesn’t have to be epic. It doesn’t have to buy me a house. All I want is some help with the repayments.

The way I see it, writing is fun, cheap to practice, and a series of funky fantasy books sitting on Amazon, Kobo and iBooks can earn me pennies while I sleep.

…and, well… if you’ll forgive the ego, I really bloody want a book out there with my name on it. I don’t need any awards or critical acclaim. Just give me a bunch of happy readers who recommend me to their friends.

Stick those in your toolkit and use ‘em

And that – all that – pushes me.

It reminds me that it’s okay for my first draft to suck.

It reminds me that there’s a real, life-changing result at the end of it all.

And that’s all I need.

I hope you’re all enjoying NaNoWriMo, and I hope you have a strong motivator to push you across the finish line!