And so we come, as we inevitably must, to November. My month of hell, elation and more terrible, terrible hell. The month that I have been dying to reach since January.
And I am not ready. Not ready at all. I have exams and assignments and life that keep on insisting that they are much more important than me writing my first wholly original and non-fandom based full-length story.
So, in an effort to ignore all of these things (psssh, education. Who needs that?) I’ve written myself a list of things I must and must not do both before and during the month of November. Hopefully by writing it down and sharing it I will convince myself to follow the list. Hopefully.
I MUST have an excess of tea and tea flavours. Normal tea may be a fantastic everyday drink but you cannot possibly expect novelling brilliance to occur without my magical Mint/Caramel/Vanilla blend with a buttload of sugar mixed in.
I MUSTensure that my laptop will not spontaneously implode on the day before NaNo starts this year. Witchcraft and shaman dances have been completed. Offerings to dark gods are prepared for 11:11 on 1/11/11 and secluded place in woodlands (read: wide open university oval) has been found in which to perform these dark rituals. Weather seems likely to oblige with a storm with mass amounts of lightning.
I MUST stop worrying about how I’m not quite sure how my characters will get from point A to point B. This will work itself out and, if not, just like last time a crazy antagonist will start planting wildlife in laundry rooms.
I MUST come up with a small piece of dogma or a motif that I can gratuitously throw into the narrative whenever I get stuck in order to take up more words and to make the story sound much deeper than it actually is. Bonus points if it vaguely relates to the story’s theme. Thoughts: ‘Give up everything first’, ‘nothing’s stronger than your memories’, ‘Honky-Tonk is an underrated music style’
I MUST accept that I have other responsibilities in November and despite my desire to hole myself up in my room and ignore all phone calls, I must refrain from doing so until at least the 12th.
I MUST convince myself that writing 50,000 words in 18 days is not only possible but also probable.
I MUST refrain from talking about my novel constantly if I wish to have any friends on the first of December. Christmas is coming up and it wouldn’t do to cull the friends list just yet.
I MUST actually take my own advice and use all of the techniques I’ve talked about over the past few months. It will make my writing better and will stop me from facepalming everytime I catch something I’ve explicitly condemned in my own writing.
I MUST gather together a list of ridiculously happy pop music in order to cheer myself up at 2am when the ideas just won’t come anymore. I must also gather together a list of suitably moody music to help me when I am writing something particularly moody.
I MUST dive into my bomb shelter of a bedroom and unearth my various wrist/elbow guards in order to stop the onset of RSI that too many years of doing assignments in epic last-minute marathons has begun.
I MUST remember that I am not alone. I’ve got a bunch of people surrounding me doing the exact same thing who will (probably) be willing to yell at me if I ever get too wallowy or stressy.
I MUST NOT self-censure. At least not during the month of November. I’ve promised my boss a copy of my novel after NaNo and I am allowed to edit that to within an inch of its life in order to prevent her from realising that I’m secretly insane.
I MUST NOT allow myself to run off on too much of a tangent. Despite the fact that my protagonist suddenly has a fondness for gardening (don’t ask) there is a princess to be saved and a bad guy to be caught and brought to justice.
I MUST NOT change one of my main character’s personality because I have a crazy desire to have a scary observant person in my cast who may or may not be a serial killer. If I really can’t live without that character I will make a new one who will pop up and make life difficult for my protagonists rather than changing everything about an existing character and making all of his actions not make sense with his new personality.
I MUST NOToverdose on caffeine. My favourite energy drink has disappeared from supermarkets and I will attempt to stop trying to find a replacement. Obviously we are only meant to have one energy drink and that was mine. It is better to have loved and lost and all that.
I MUST NOT overdose on sugar. My dentist already winces when he sees me. Let’s not speed up this process.
I MUST NOT shy away from my story. It’s been hiding in my head (in various incarnations) since I was 16. I’ve avoided it this long and I cannot continue to do so.
I MUST NOT fall into the trap of tvtropes. I am allowed to venture on to that godforsaken website once a day and I am only allowed to visit ten pages per day no matter how interesting the links seem.
I MUST NOT question the worth of what I am writing. Having a breakdown over my inherently terrible and predictable plot and characters can wait until December when I’ve got Christmas carols to cheer me up.
I MUST NOT spend my time writing lists like this during November. Instead, I will simply write and hope that somewhere in the mountain of words that I produce there will be something golden that will turn into a publishable work.
I MUST NOT focus soley on realities and instead dream big. At the beginning of the year I thought I would never be able to keep up with writing a blog, or have a coherent plan for my gigantic fanfic. I thought I would never work in a bookstore and would never get the chance to fangirl openly without feeling a little ashamed. I never thought I would ride an elephant and I never thought I would do an art marathon for charity. I’ve done all of that in 10 months. Screw Reality. I want to write a fantasy novel ANYWAY.
What’s your checklist for NaNo? Is there anything you need to start or stop doing RIGHT AT THIS VERY SECOND?
In the interests of not sending myself completely off the deep end, this blog is going on hiatus until December. See you on the other side!
- Creating Your Own Canon: Moving from Fan Fiction to Original Fiction (vampisthenewblack.wordpress.com)
- National Novel Writing Month: my experience and advice (rhculp.com)
- Busy November (mochalove.net)