4 Tips for NaNoWriMo From Someone Who Has Never Done It Before

Gus HarringtonAh, National Novel Writing Month, when billions of writers attempt to write 50,000-plus words in just 30 days. A difficult endeavor to be sure, but not an insurmountable one. A pre-bestselling writer myself, I have attempted this feat many, many times. Though I have never actually reached the final word count myself, I am still able to offer up this infallible advice that will be sure to boost your own chances at success.

1. Be sure to prepare! Or don’t! Whatever!

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This is something individual to every writer. Perhaps you’re the type that benefits from dozens of pages of character personality graphs, perhaps you simply like to wing it and see what happens. Whatever your creative method, it is sure to work, so long as you stick with it and do not worry about the results.

When I attempted to complete NaNoWriMo last year, I simply wrote the word “gibberish” over and over and over again. Unfortunately, I fell short of the goal by 2,000 words, and many agents later told me they could not sell the manuscript (novellas don’t perform well in this market, you see), but I still found the exercise educational and creatively fulfilling.

Do not be afraid to be experiment with your story construction. Try killing off every main character in each chapter, then start the next one with an entirely fresh cast! Use unlawful sentence structure, or invented words that even you do not understand! Write a YA vampire novel that doesn’t feature a romance. Be daring!

2. Arrange your pens!

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One of the biggest hurdles to beginning your manuscript will be figuring out in which order your various-colored pens should be laid out. Any writer can relate to the struggle of deciding between grouping their pens by shade, or alphabetically, or perhaps making a bold statement of placing non-complementary colors together. Oh, where to start?! Fret not, dear writer. The most important thing to remember is to be true to your own internal color palate.

Do not be led astray by pre-concieved color schemes! No red, white, and blue, no sports team colors, and certainly no rainbow! The notion that the rainbow is a constructive or inspiring arrangement of colors has been debunked time and time again by the many creative people who much prefer to stare out the window at a gray, cloudy sky instead. Established color patterns only serve to reinforce the status quo, and do not allow you to make a creative decision.

Remember, the color placement of your pens is entirely up to you to create, and you alone. Even if finding the perfect arrangement takes hours or days of your time, it will be well worth it to gain the resulting boost of creativity provided by the harmonious placement of your dozens of pens.

3. Abstinence only!

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Sex is extremely distracting to all aspects of life, especially writing. What writer hasn’t sat back to look at their freshly typed manuscript only to discover that the particular placement of the spaces between words creates a sort of page wide connect-the-dots forming the shape of an erect human penis, or an erect human vagina? Then, of course, you feel that special tingle in your loins and must abandon your work to go relieve yourself.

This is a phenomenon that typographers call “subconscious kerning” and it can prove distractingly arousing. I know that I personally pleasure myself to my own writing several times a week, and it can prove incredibly harmful to productivity. During NaNoWriMo, this simply cannot be allowed. Going forth, the writer must take a vow of celibacy, even with oneself. No self-gratification, no matter how brilliantly arranged your prose is. No carnal relations with your significant other, no matter how seductive or pleading they may behave. This is crucial to the success of your project!

4. Avenge your pride!

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There have been many people in your life who have made you feel like your writing is an unworthy pursuit. They have sneered at your attempts at creativity, mocked your passion for the craft. They say things like, “You’ll never be a successful author!” or “Please get a real job that pays actual money!” or “Why does it look like there are penises all over the page?” These people will never understand, unless you force them to.

Use this month of writing to make them see how great you really are. Every word you pen should be a defense of your honor and a verbal counter-attack that strikes your detractors in their very souls. Make them regret that they ever doubted you. Make them weep and fall to their knees as the beauty of your words becomes corporeal and reaches out to strike them down where they stand. Use your 50,000 words to build yourself a castle of characters – letters, apostrophes, commas – and perch atop it, peering down at the illiterate masses below you. Pity them, but do not show mercy. For now you are the emperor of the written word. The time for your reign has come.


Image sources: cover 1, cover 2, header 1, header 2, header 3, header 4

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About Gus Harrington (16 Articles)
Gus quickly became one of today's leading literary critics, despite not yet having any of his own works published. Gus joined The Double Thumb so that he could “offer an intelligent alternative to the mainstream critic community.” Gus is married to his lovely wife Tabitha Harrington. They live in a beautiful beachfront house in La Jolla, California despite both of them having severe sand allergies. Six months out of the year, Gus tours across the country signing other people's books. Keep an eye out for him in your hometown, and be sure to buy an autograph!

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