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NaNoWriMo: If James Patterson Can Write 500 Books A Year, I Can Do At Least One

2009_poster_smaller_0My wife is all kinds of nervous about doing NaNoWriMo with me, although bless her heart, she hasn’t shown a single sign of wanting to back out, even though she hasn’t a clue what she wants to write about.  It’s prompted us to get into a few serious conversations about writing, which is awesome for our relationship, as she’s always been a “closet writer” — she loves to write, but she’s painfully shy about ever sharing, even with me, what she’s written.

I was thinking of a few common-sense tips and helpful aids to surviving NaNoWriMo that I shared with her, and since it looks as though several BioBreak readers and friends are joining the push this year, I might as well pass these along:

  1. Recognize in advance whether you’re a planner (you prepare the story beforehand with an outline, plot arc, characters, details) or if you are a write-by-the-seat-of-your pants type of author.  Both are equally valid, but if you’re a planner, you better get cracking this week.
  2. In either case, have an “ideas” file that you’re adding to starting now and continuing through the month — characters, dialogue exchanges, events, even words.  Sometimes when you get writer’s block, it helps to thumb through this file for inspiration.
  3. Develop a support network for the month.  This can include friends who are doing NaNoWriMo with you (and can easily sympathize), and people who are on the outside, able to care for you and give you encouragement.  Also, check out local NaNoWriMo write-ins, where authors gather to write together.  It’s a lot of fun.
  4. To hit the 50,000 word goal, you have to write 1,667 words a day.  My advice?  Write an even 2,000 words a day — that gives you five days over the month that you don’t have to write squat.  You’ll need those five days, as emergencies and writer’s block emerge.
  5. Don’t fall behind on your personal writing goals.  There’s nothing worse than having to make up four days of missed writing.
  6. In general, the first week is exciting, the second daunting, the third grueling, and the fourth an all-out dash to the finish line.  Everyone hits “the wall” at some point in the month where they want to give up.  Don’t!
  7. Read the NaNoWriMo blog.  They have tons of great advice on there!  This recent article is a good read.
  8. Don’t write for me.  Don’t write for others.  Don’t write thinking how this is going to be a best-selling novel.  Write for YOURSELF, to make you happy.  That’s the only chance of success you have!

Here’s their win rates (the percentage of participants who make it across the 50K finish line) over the past eight years:

  • 2001: 14%
  • 2002: 15.6%
  • 2003: 13.7%
  • 2004: 14.3%
  • 2005: 16.6%
  • 2006: 16.2%
  • 2007: 15.1%
  • 2008: 18.2%

And again, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo as well, let me know or add “Sypster” to your buddy list!

12 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: If James Patterson Can Write 500 Books A Year, I Can Do At Least One

  1. I’m looking forward to doing this for the first time this year. I’ve got a room mate who is also going to do it, so that should help to get through the grind of it all. Hopefully this is the prodding that I need to finally get through it all.

  2. I’ll attempt to start but probably fail once dragon age is out. 😐

    Every damn year it’s another distraction. If it’s not exams it’s performances. If it’s not performances it’s holidays. If it’s not holidays it’s work. If it’s not work it’s a bioware game.

    Regardless even if I don’t finish for nanowrimo I will finish the book itself as it’s for a whole big fantasy/clockpunk setting dealie my friends and I collaborate on. Once we’ve mopped up all the important world-building details like cultural and economical factors, we’ll be writing a pen-and-paper RPG for it. We also plan for a webcomic, but that depends on if any of us get good enough at drawing or find an artist to con into the project. 😛

  3. Wotcha Syp,

    Julian Fellowes, noted author and all-round gent, once gave a fabulous piece of advice in a radio interview; never write *everything* that’s in your head; always leave something that you know you want to write for your next session. That way, you have something to get your creative juices going, and help avoid writer’s block.

    Whilst I’d never think of going for NaNoWriMo (my life is too chaotic for it) I have found that advice to be a life-saver when I have a large body of writing that needs to be done.

    Good luck!


  4. I am nervous this year. I think maybe cause I really am impassioned what I’m writing about this year. I am taking it more serious, and I really do want to write for a living. Plus I have some buddies this year, and I don’t want to look bad in front of them.

  5. I’m strongly considering it. I think tomorrow or Friday I’ll try a test write of a 2,000 word short story and see how long it takes me. If I can’t fit it into my schedule without losing sleep, I might have to say no for this year. We’ll see.

  6. I’m doing it as you know Syp. I don’t have anything I mind to write though. I think I am going to sit down on November1 and create something. It’s all fun though. Make it or don’t, as long as we tried

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