I know you NaNoWriMo junkies are freaking out about this right now. This. This thing of being able to write a whole novel in 1 month. You bite your nails and elbows and neighbors and whatever else you can bite, wondering, "Can I do it? Can I? Is there a magic formula?" Well, I am NOT doing NaNoWriMo. In fact, I've never done it. But I'm doing my own NaNoWriMo in that I'm writing the 1st draft of CORNERS right now, and by my calculations the whole thing will be done in 20 days.
"That is crazy," you say.
"No, it isn't," I say.
Here are the numbers for you, and then we'll discuss how I'm doing it and how you can do it too.
I have started writing CORNERS on October 6th going at a rate of roughly 5.4K words a day. I have days when I write 6.8K words, I have days when I write 3.2K words. It all evens out in the end. As of writing this blog, it has been 9 days since I've started it, and the total count of words is 48.6K, which is roughly half of the whole draft, since my 1st drafts tend to be around 100K words. Or something. Sometimes they spill into the 120K range. I might miss the mark and slow down as I get closer to the end, but I don't think this story will get over 100K. Even if it will, I'll still finish it in about 20 days. Or something.
Anyway. Let me detail my process for you, because I'm doing a new thing this time. I'm writing this 1st draft unlike I've written any of the other 1st drafts before.
1. I don't plan or plot anything. I just write.
I have an image in my head. It can be anything. It can be a sad lost sock in the middle of the road. The point is, it doesn't matter what it is. The point is to start. I know I'll cut off this beginning later anyway, so I just go for it. It's like I'm clearing my throat. So here immediately I'm saving on days spent on the draft. Yes? Yes. Moving on.
2. I don't edit at all. I just write.
In the previous 1st drafts I used to go over what I've written the day before, tweaking it and sort of speed-editing it, to get myself back into the story. It was painful. I pushed myself through it. I didn't like it. I was proud of making myself do it. I've blogged how to write 4K words a day. I don't speed-edit anymore. And you know what? I don't get stuck anymore! I don't have to push through anything! Whatever I remember from reading it aloud the previous night, I remember. What I don't remember doesn't matter.
3. I don't break or pause. I just write.
Here comes the secret. I haven't done this previously either. I always broke for the weekend. And guess what. Mondays were a royal pain. I had to go back and reread what I wrote to remember what the hell happened. This time I'm not breaking. My family has understood. I asked them to. They're awesome. And suddenly writing is easy. I remember what happened! It's fresh in my head. It's alive. All I have to do is write it down.
4. I don't go anywhere. I just write.
I don't do any social life while I write, period. Nothing. And I mean, not even grocery shopping. Okay, maybe some. I get my human interactions to a minimum. Human, as in, face to face. I still tweet plenty, but face to face interactions suck out energy, and I need my energy for my story. As a result, I write for longer hours and concentrate better.
5. When I write, I turn everything off.
And I mean, everything everything. Every window of the glossy Internets and even my phone. And when I think, I don't turn anything on. I simply think. It takes me faster to get ideas in my head without distractions. It's scary, because I'm scared to have this faith that the right idea will come, but it always does. So now I'm not scared anymore. I just wait. And think. And wait. And after 10 minutes or so, I know what to write.
6. I share my word count every day.
Maybe this works like a buddy support system or something, I don't know, but it's a motivator. I share at the end of the day with my Twitter folks and Facebook and G+ and Ello and OMG I am on too many social media networks but you know me. Can't shut up. I share how many words I wrote, and people cheer me on. It makes me want to keep up the pace. It keeps me motivated.
7. I read every day after writing.
There is always this fear that I will suck, so I read like mad. After I'm done writing. I read very different books to see how others dared, and that gives me permission to dare too. Or it simply assures me that, yes, I can do it. I can write my own way. Because when I write my own way, without being afraid to be me, I write fast.
8. I read aloud what I wrote before sleep.
Right before going to bed I read to my boyfriend what I wrote during the day. It plugs the story in my brain and keeps it cooking there while I sleep. It also tells me if the rhythm is right or wrong, like in a peace of music. If you don't have someone whom you can read your stuff to, read to a mirror, or read into a video camera and record yourself and listen to yourself. You will see the story from the outside, and it will give you pointers on where to go.
9. I exercise every day.
Whatever they say about healthy body and healthy mind thing, they say it for a reason. I have a bike in my room and every night I try to bike for at least 30 minutes. It kicks up my endorphins, it keeps me happy and it makes me doubt myself less. Seriously, it makes me feel good. So, do it. Every day. Take a walk. A quick run. Stand on your head. Whatever works for you. But don't just sit all day like a jellyfish. Get your blood moving, your brain will thank you for it.
10. I DON'T PANIC AND I DRINK A LOT OF COFFEE.
And I keep my towel on me, always. I wear bright socks. I pet sloths. I eat chocolate. I wear a diaper when I want to save time on peeing. I tell myself, "It's okay if it will turn out a pile of shit." Here is what you do. Write for your own enjoyment. Forget about everyone and everything. Have fun. What do you need to do, to have fun? What is something you always wanted to do and were afraid to? Dance around the house naked? Do it. Eat ice cream while sitting in the bathtub? Do it. Dress up as a scary clown and eagerly wait for kids to come home from school? Do it. Whatever makes you feel like a kid, do it every day. Capture that mood. You need it to write a great story.
This is it. This is what I do. Right now. This is new. It might change again with time, the more I write and learn.
So. Here is the deal.
To all you NaNoWriMo folks, good luck! I believe in you! You can do it! Yes! YES!!! Now go buy yourself some colorful socks and stop fretting. You will be amazing. And I will feed you cookies.