So I’ve had an influx of dm’s and emails about NaNoWriMo and writing in general. I’m flattered people are asking me because really, I’m still learning and I hope never to stop learning. But I’m happy to share some thoughts etc.
Here’s my take on NanoWriMo and some random thoughts on writing too.
ENJOY IT. Go crazy.
Write all the words you can.
Every 500 or 200 words you write on your story, dissertation, or whatever, is 500 or 200 words more than you had before. But here’s the trick: it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get the words down. Because this will be your first draft. And your first draft is allowed to suck. In fact, if it doesn’t suck then well…you are possibly the next Hemingway or Platt and you deserve all the laurels. But basically, first drafts are designed to suck ass. You will hate it but you will love it also. There is no OTHER way to get this high legally when you’re doing something by yourself – writing is a high. Getting the words down, creating story, makes you soar. It makes me soar! I love it. I love discovering my characters and the plot. I love the possibilities of what if.
I’m about to head into a huge redraft of book 3. And yes, I’m terrified, but I am also incredibly excited. It means that along with everyone working on their writing in November, I’ll be doing exactly the same thing. My energy will be thrown into the pot and although I won’t be doing word count updates and working on ‘wrimo, I will be doing and grafting seriously hard on reworking book 3. And there’s nothing like KNOWING you’re not alone in doing this thing, getting involved in this creative effort.
It’s one of the reasons I like writing in coffee shops. I look up from the keyboard and you see other people right there, either writing in journals by hand or they’re busy pounding the keys with fierce looks of concentration. You check in on twitter and you see your pals #amwriting and suddenly although you’re writing, you’re not alone alone anymore. It’s a thing. It is totally a thing.
So, my advice is this, for NaNoWriMo:
1. Get in the habit of writing
2. Figure out the word count you’re happy with every day.
3. If you don’t make the word count, still see it as a success.
4. It’s about getting your first draft done.
5. It may feel like a race, but it’s NOT a race, not really.
6. You will not send your manuscript out to any agent or editor on the 1st or 10th December, because that manuscript needs editing and revising. If anything, you’ll be sending that manuscript out, redrafted and edited in about six months, possibly less if you’ve worked like MAD on it.
7. Have fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. I cannot stress this enough. Writing is hard work, it really is, but seriously, nothing is more fun than getting down and dirty with characters you love and throwing them at enemies or into situations they have to get out of. Muah hahaha. *coughs delicately*
8. If you’ve plotted your book out and you find yourself going off on some kinda of tangent, let it go, see where it takes you. If you don’t like the tangent, cut it, but paste it into a separate folder for later. Who knows what that tangent may mean later on?
Uh. That’s all I’ve got, I think? As far as NaNoWriMo is concerned anyway.
General writing advice is always just, take yourself seriously. Do NOT be ashamed to tell people you’re writing if they ask you. This weekend past I spent time at the London Screenwriters Festival and listened to writers/producers talk about writing and creating and the one thing they all had in common is: OWN WHAT YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING. And it’s hard because as creatives it’s not an easy thing to do. Other professionals are all: oh yeah, I’m a doctor / dentist or I’m a lawyer or I’m a surveyor or a banker or a metallurgist or whatever and yet you ask ANYONE in the creative industry and they’re like this:
Looks down at the ground, rubs back of the neck, gets a little distant look in the eye as they look up. Shuffles uncomfortably. Eventually they go: uh, yeah, so I’m a writer? I uh, I’m published? But you know, it’s nothing serious and in the meantime it’s serious like DEATH cos this person’s written like twenty comics and five hundred books and they’ve run creative writing courses and wotnot and yet they find themselves unable to stand up straight and own it. So my advice is, regardless of where you are in your career / hobby of writing: stand up and own it. I’m trying to do that but it is HARD because we are never ever encouraged to own what we do. And it should really not be a thing.
I listened to these screenwriters talk about how they still don’t see themselves as creatively successful and the one young woman – stunningly articulate and fabulously lovely – explain how she still struggles to see herself as a success. She won BAFTAS. I think the entire audience sat up a little then and thought: yeah, so it’s not just me who is this dumb….it would seem like we all are a little dumb.
So yeah, own your writing and what you’re doing. It’s fair enough if you don’t want to tell people about it, but really, in your head, you should own it. Because writing is fantastic and fun and hard and liberating and sexy and sweet and heartbreaking. Without writing and creating stories our lives would be very dull indeed.
And uh, that’s all I have to say about that.
If you want to drop by my tumblr to ask me questions feel free to do that! You can do it anonymously too. Feel free to ask all kinds of stuff – if I can figure out answers I will try and answer. Of I will speak to people who can help me answer questions.
Oh, and next week THURSDAY, 6th November, the second book in the Blackhart Trilogy is released – it’s called VOWED and it is full of action and fighting and new characters to fall in love with and Kit being sassy and torn between liking Thorn too much for her own sanity and fighting with Aiden against bad things, and uch, so much STUFF.
And as a reminder, the WRITE IDEA FESTIVAL is happening. I’ll be running 2 sessions. One will be about fanfic (writing it, reading it, being part of fandom) and the other talk will be focussed on writing original works and getting published and we’ll be talking about story, plot, character, voice and all the fun stuff. The day is FREE but you GOTTA book tickets. So do that if you’re able!
As always, find me on twitter as @LizUK. I’m also on Instagram – http://instagram.com/lizdejagerwriter – and I’m on Facebook too but far less because well, it’s a little bit dull, isn’t it?
But mostly: if you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo – have fun! If you’re not officially taking part, like me, but you are still doing creative stuff: have fun and good luck. We’re all in this good ship SS Creative and we can kick some butt.