NaNoWriMo: Stratejay to 50k

It’s a horrible title, I know. Just horrible.

This year, I feel as though I have the strongest strategy to-date for my approach to success. I have really dug into the core issue with my failing every NaNo for the past seven years. It has been an exercise in introspection and a quite humbling experience.

Ultimately, I need some bite to my bark. I have said a few times in the past via social media or conversations with my peeps – I am more in love with the idea of being a writer than actually writing. It’s okay, according to the awesome people at Writing Excuses, to present yourself as a writer, even if you do not have anything published. Unfortunately for me, I have done a lot of talking about being a writer and spent very little energy actually doing the craft. This needs to change for NaNoWriMo 2013.

So I have started developing strategies that will give me teeth. That will give me the aggressiveness to bite when needed. These are obviously what I feel will help me best for the long month ahead – they may not work for you.

First and foremost, I am going to eliminate the distractions that I put in place last year. Most of these were technology-based distractions. I purchased Scrivener and was immediately overwhelmed by the vast coolness of serious number of features that it offers. That ended up as a detractor from my writing though, as I spent more time trying to set up syncing features and DropBox accounts and such. I am sure it works great and this is in no way a review or commentary on Scrivener. I just lost focus of what was important – the writing. I have tried out a new piece of tech that I am actually really enjoying however. Stenosaur is a fantastic little app that allows a user to tweet microjournals to the Stenosaur app for future use. For me, this is fantastic.

I will write a full review about Stenosaur once I have explored it to the fullest, but for now, I am in love with the fact that I can use talk-to-text functionality to voice record ideas while I am driving, which I do more than the average bear.

My second strategy is to do warm-ups before each session. Ultimately, if you start writing cold, your first five hundred words or so are still your warm-up, but I am going to employ a new strategy: I am going to write for a half hour before every session for a different project. My main NaNoWriMo project is a fantasy novel that I have been working on for quite some time. The other project that I want to use warm-ups for is a somewhat post apocalyptic novel about survival and human drive. I will use this designated half hour to simply write character explorations of a few people jangling around in my head.

My intentions here are to build up a working base for the new novel, while letting my mind and fingers fall into my natural rhythm of writing. I have found from past experiences, that when I sit down to write and the words do not come easily, I get frustrated and give up on the session. I have also found that I love write character sketches and letting them grow and explore on the page. Using the moment of these free write sketches I will, I hope, be able to switch gears into the world and characters that I already know and love and understand, and continue with the real juicy stuff for the day.

Finally, I am going to change perspective on my word count approach. I have decided to take the 1st off of work, which gives me a three day, full on NaNoWriMo start to work with. I plan to write until my fingers bleed on day one. I plan to write my ass off on day two. I plan to write until my preggers wife drags me from my office on day three. At that point, on Sunday night, when I need to rub cream on the ever-expanding belly of my beautiful wife, I will start calculating word count. Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that I manage 10k words in those three days, I would only have to average 1429 words per day (aWPD) for the rest of the month. If I started at Day One, I would need 1613 aWPD to hit 50k by the end of the month. A 200 aWPD difference does not seem like much and you would be correct.

The bigger issue at play is the inspirational force of grinding out 10k words in 3 days! At that pace 100k words is feasible, and I am a man who rides the waves of momentum quite well. This is the biggest point for everyone to embrace. Develop strategies that give you small victories. Let the high of those victories fuel your momentum. Let your momentum carry you into the land of NaNo victory.

In most things in life, I am at least as much bite as I am bark. So far, this has not been the case in my writing, and I have realized that is because of a lack of confidence in my craft and a lack of micro-victories to prove to myself that I am capable of doing this.

14 Responses

    1. wordrew

      You seriously make me feel warm and fuzzy. Thank you, cheerleader!
      I need to get on top of my blog feeder so that I can check out all those amazing posts you have been putting out as well.

  1. I’ll be at a convention the weekend of the first, but I noticed that there were rooms dedicated to NaNoWriMo where people at the convention could still get their writing done. It’s fascinating how widespread it is to receive that kind of accommodation in a formal schedule.

    1. wordrew

      That is pretty rad, Setsu! You will find support just about anywhere you go these days for NaNo. My big push for the first weekend is also due to be heading back to Michigan for Thanksgiving, and therefore being wrapped up with family stuff for the last week. There are always opportunities to get more words in though, and capitalizing on those opportunities are where you really help ensure victory.

  2. This is a fabulous post! I think I’ll start with a free-write every day now, too. I’m going to a writing retreat a week into NaNo, and I’m hoping to have the same type of success that you’re planning to have the first three days. Cheers!

    1. wordrew

      Peggy, I cannot tell you how excited that you even read this, let alone enjoyed it! You definitely made my day yesterday.
      I have, since starting this blog, just tried to maintain the perspective that I am an aspiring writer and that all I can do is share what may be working for me. There is obviously no garauntee of success, but at this stage of my career I feel that the exploration of WHO I am as a writer is just as important as how I write.
      I wish you all of the best at your writing retreat and I hope to get some updates along the way!

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  4. I love your idea of a warm-up session, and am totally stealing it. Myself, I have a number of short stories that need to either be edited or reworked, and I think I’ll take you advice and use that warm-up period to work on those. Great perspective!

    1. wordrew

      I think that is a great way to go about it, Marsh! It seems that there is the singular idea that during NaNo we have to focus on writing one thing every day. To me, the act of writing is like a train – it takes me a bit to get moving, but once I do, I have a hard time stopping. I am just going to use the first half hour or so to feed the writing engine with character sketches and situational explorations, then once I have it in full gear, get in to the novel currently on my table.
      I am sure that your editing and reworkings will give you the same momentum.

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  6. Interesting plan of attack here! I think the idea of writing on something else for a short time is awesome..I, too, am stealing this. I started a short story a few days ago and it needs some polish. May lead to a longer story, but I just felt the need to do something fictional to prove to myself I can make up a story LOL

    Oh…if you have published any writing, any where, I encourage you to call yourself an author.. kick the aspiring to the curb. I have self published one very short non-fiction book. I have another that I need to edit due to the time lapse from the last go through. Those may be my Pre-NaNo writing sessions….anyway, I got distracted LOL

    What I was trying to say, is if it’s on the web, in an e-book, or even self printed…or maybe something that was printed because you won a contest at some point in your life…You Are an Author. Own it..be it..work it.. 😉 Just my two cents!

    1. wordrew

      Thank you for the encouragement and I am glad that some of my techniques are interesting to you! I haven’t put anything out in the published circuit yet, and I am reserving my title change for a big, official moment when that does happen…it’s more a motivator than a negative for me.
      I do, however, refer to myself as a writer when the conversation comes up.

  7. Best of luck this year, Drew. After a long time of trying to figure out what works for me, and still trying, I’m finally of the opinion that every writer has to find his own way of getting things done. Please buddy up with me (beatbox32) on the NaNoWriMo site. It’s always good to have comrades for encouragement.

    1. wordrew

      Thanks for the response, Phillip! I have definitely arrived at the same conclusion, so my purpose in these posts is really to let people experiment with what works for me as a way to help develop their own writing strategy.
      I will hit you up on NaNo as a buddy today…. We are mere hours away! Good luck to you with your goal!

Please, let me know what you think.

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