I did National Novel Writing Month, aka Nanowrimo, in November 2019.
Write ~1700 words a day to hit the 50k word count, which is the length of The Great Gatsby.
The book started off as a political drama, devolved into a romance, then hit a dead end. I solved the dead end by pushing the protagonist off a cliff into a lake, entirely on a whim. The next writing session, I resolved it by creating a water deity to save him, and gave him a magic sword to boot. Thus, the rest of the book became a fantasy.
I planned for a week beforehand, brainstorming a full plot, and once I got started, it all went in the trash. I entirely “pantsed” my novel, as opposed to plotting it out.
Trick is to lower quality bar, esp. if you have little creative writing experience. An example of my average quality during the month:
Then, it occurred to me. Crete and Amethyr would have to renew their peace accords. That was a task with subtleties, that wouldn’t do itself. No one else could do it, really. There was no one else to negotiate the terms, and…
I just got it out, even though most of the words here are redundant.
If you’re struggling to write, lower the quality bar further. When I was starting, I kept wondering how bad the writing could be. But seriously, I’m telling you, anything goes. A few rough days towards the end, I was just pooped, and I wrote the scenes with my eyes closed. Just typing whatever I wanted to.
Read No Plot No Problem by Chris, the Nanowrimo guy. He helps navigate through the emotions, which is especially important for the first week. He has also a lot of actionable tips. I credit actually starting Nanowrimo this year to reading this book.
Tip: Do something with a small world and small cast of characters, it’s easier. E.g. a romance, which is what my novel became, LOL
Don’t write a Great American Novel unless you read Great American Novels. Easier to write what you read a lot of. For me, fantasy.
No plans to edit the novel I wrote. Also, no plans to show anyone excerpts or anything. I’m a pretty open person, but this novel is pretty trash, so hands off
It’s a special experience to write a novel. Your experience suddenly all become novel fodder, which is an awesome way to live life. You start looking at all happenings and interactions as extremely interesting. I think it makes you a better person and a more observant person. I really enjoyed this aspect of it all.
You actually get immersed in this other world and your characters do become real to you. They were real to me. I could have a happy day, and then having to write the death of one of my characters, I would end up crying and all mellow. Or vice versa sad => write a cute moment between main couple => happy.
I’m hella proud of finishing. It was a beautiful experience tbh, and my time with my characters are some sweet memories to look back on.
When I finished, I was grinning like a fool. I spent the next thirty minutes, singing and dancing to Un Poco Loco from Coco.
I imagined myself singing the lyrics to my finished novel:
You make me un poco loco, un poquititito loco The way you keep me guessing, I’m nodding and I’m yes-ing I’ll count it as a blessing that I’m only un poco loco