Give yourselves a pat on the back. If you're not doing NaNoWriMo, go congratulate someone who is because if they're anything like me, they might need some encouragement right about now.
By the end of today (November 8) if you are keeping on schedule with writing 1,1667 words each day, you should be hitting 13,333 words. As of last night I was at 12,057.
If you're ahead of the curve - that's awesome! You keep going! Sometimes it can be easy to think "I can take a break, I'm ahead" but DON'T DO IT! At some point down the road this month, you'll probably not write as much and you're going to need that word count cushion. Also, you can't stop the momentum it gets going. There have been times I'll get crazy ahead and then I'll just randomly stop writing for a week or two. It'll start with one day where I get too confident in my word count, and soon it turns into two days, a week, two weeks. Yikes! I've been able to catch up every time I have done this, but it's stressful. Please learn from my mistakes and don't do this to yourself.
If you're behind on your word count goal - don't freak out! You can still catch up and keep going. It's only week one. You have three whole weeks to get your word count up. A ton of people are in the same boat as you and that's totally okay. In fact, I found out last night that Hank Green does NaNoWriMo. Yup, HANK GREEN. It kinda made my life.
Well.. other than that Pip Ballentine, a co-author of The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, one of my favorite Steampunk series, just followed me on Twitter. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! AN ACTUAL AUTHOR IS FOLLOWING ME ON TWITTER. And not just any author- an author who writes one of my favorite book series!!!!!! Please celebrate with me my doing the Kermit Flail.
Wait... what was I talking about? Oh yeah. NaNoWriMo. Hank Green. I'm back on track now, I promise.
Anyways. Hank Green tweeted this last night:
Woo! 10k! Still behind where I should be, but good enough! http://t.co/H6aRITm8n9
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) November 8, 2014
He's behind. HANK GREEN is behind on NaNoWriMo. Is he freaking out? Nope. If that's not encouragement for you, I don't know what is.
We all work at our own pace and that's totally okay.
But if you're like me... you're still worried.
I know I'm not crazy behind. Not yet. But to be completely honest, I've never struggled so much with a novel this early in the game. When I first thought of this idea, I was so excited. There was so much potential! If done right, I could turn it into a stage production. It was going to be personal, unique, heartfelt, funny, all of the things a good novel should be. But whenever I start writing nothing turns out the way I thought it would. Maybe it's because I haven't gotten to the scenes I'm the most excited about. I'm not sure. But I spend so much time just staring at my computer screen instead of typing. I want to fix it but I don't know how.
That doesn't mean I'm going to quit though.
Here are a few things I've learned this week about struggling with a novel... all things other people have told me in my frustration.
Earlier this week I was texting one of my NaNoWriMo friends in Missouri. Last year we spent hours and hours together at Starbucks and on my living room couch drinking coffee (and other things...), watching Boy Meets World, and helping each other plot our stories. I texted her expressing how frustrated I was. I felt like my story was boring and cliche and awful. She told me this:
"The point is writing it. You can't edit what's not there."
Yes, it's entirely possible your NaNoWriMo draft is completely terrible and not worth reading. But at least it's written down. When it's done and written down, that's when you can look at it and say "Okay, this is bad. How can I make it better?" If you never write down the terrible stories, you'll never get the good ones either. Most great stories have had several drafts, not just one. You can't get to the good one until the bad one is written.
I also got a lot of inspiration from the NaNoWriMo pep talk from Veronica Roth (she wrote the Divergent trilogy) and the web chat with Scott Westerfeld. (He wrote the Uglies series and I just finished his newest book, Afterworlds, which is about a girl who published her NaNoWriMo project. So awesome!) They both seemed to have the same mindset about writing:
If you don't know everything as you're writing, it's okay!
As in, if you don't know your ending right away - that's okay.
If you don't know your characters favorite color - that's okay.
If your usual writing plan and process isn't working- that's okay. Try something new.
Scott Westerfeld talked about how sometimes he doesn't know his ending until he's about 2/3 of the way through his novel. Or that his characters tend to develop themselves as he writes.
Veronica Roth said in her pep talk: "What is important, far more than the definitions we cling to, is that we finish the stories we are burning to tell."
She also said: "Don’t be a plotter or a pantser, a strict butt-in-chair person or an exercise-doer, a beginning-to-end-er or a time jumper—don’t be anything other than whatever you need to be to keep climbing."
You do what you need to do to keep writing. Keep telling your story. It will get there. Good or bad, your story will get there. Fast or slow, your story will get there.
Also, today (November 8) is "Double Up Your Novel Day." Which means you should double something. Double your word count or your daily writing goal. Double your donations. Double your characters. Double SOMETHING that has to do with NaNoWriMo. The weekend is a great day to catch up and to get a nice word count cushion for when you fall behind later.
Now get back to writing.