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  • Writer's pictureKatrina Carruth

NANO WRIMO PREP TALK (see what I did there?)


I don’t know how, but SOMEHOW 2020 ended without a total apocalypse, and 2021 has sailed along at a bumpy but steady pace. It’s shocking that NaNo WriMo is just around the corner. I’d almost forgotten about NaNo because, in my mind, it’s still months away.

It’s not. (whoops a daisy)

While scrolling social media, I’ve started to see ideas for spending our blessed spooky season prepping to conquer the mountain that is 50,000 words in 30 days. Initially, I got excited reminiscing about past months of prepping with friends in small coffee shops. However, my mind eventually crept into the dark corners of the past where I either didn’t come close to hitting 50k OR busted my ass only to end up with 50,000 useless words.

Both were equally devastating.

The phrase “You can’t edit a blank page” is completely valid, however, I also know it can be absolutely soul crushing to mentally prepare to edit 50k words that have taken your story into a black hole (along with your soul), leaving you defeated and abandoning not only the words, but the idea entirely.

I know from experience what it’s like reviewing a post-NaNo draft that, before I started, I thought was destined to be an instant bestseller, only to be tortured with several paragraphs describing every shade and texture of moss I could think of for the sake of my word count. Instead of feeling like it was worth devoting any time to edits, I felt like running for the toilet hoping to purge my stupidity along with whatever I’d eaten.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with participating in NaNo WriMo. I absolutely LOVE participating, and plan to do so again this year. But, it’s easy to get swept up in the prep work. The planning, plotting, character creating, and world building all (in my humble opinion) give a false sense of preparedness. While there’s a lot to be said for a solid outline, there’s also a lot of very famous authors who will laugh when they hear you say you think you’ll actually stick to it.

The only prep work that’s truly worth your time is writing every single day BEFORE NaNo starts.

I used to be annoyed when I heard authors say “just write” when giving writing advice because, obviously that’s what you have to do to be a writer. But I didn’t really GET IT until I too started to JUST WRITE.

I know now those authors don’t mean “sit down and hopefully without any practice at all you’ll just magically pump out your best work on your first try”. It really means: sit down and write what comes to you AS it comes to you. Let the words be ugly, let your world be nonsensical, let the plot have holes, and make the grammar gods cry out in pain. Because, eventually, the words get prettier, the world starts to make sense, the plot has fewer holes (until a beta reader sees it but they DO become fewer in number, I promise) and the grammar gods wipe their tears and offer hopeful cheers.

I know this NaNo will be different.

I know because this practice of “just writing” I’ve been doing since May has drastically improved my writing.

I’ve learned that taking my time with my words is more important than any word count. I don’t mean that I sit and AGONIZE over what I’m writing and debate endlessly if it’s perfect and fight with myself over what to say next. I just sit and let the story show up on the page as it comes to me. The effortless flow of the faucet simply being turned on manages to create a consistent, steady stream that gets better and even more consistent until I turn it off.

Because I’ve dedicated real, genuine time to my words AND my word counts through mini challenges throughout the year, I’m fascinated with how easily the right (well, mostly right) words come to me with the same ease as my sweat when the temperature gets any higher than 70 degrees. Because I’ve established a very simple daily writing habit (I started with writing 3 sentences every day before challenging myself to things like 10k or 20k in 5 days) I can now comfortably bust out about 3,200 words every single day. That’s double the average daily word count to hit 50k during November.

When I first participated in NaNo, I did it with the hopes that it would jump start the writing habit I was telling myself I already had (in some secret plane of existence apparently) and, instead, the month ended in despair when I hated what I wrote AND my story idea. You know, the one I daydreamed about being the next NaNo success story that I’d eventually get to discuss on my wildly popular book tour (ha!).

So, get yourself prepped to do the actual writing outside of plotting and whatnot, and remember to HAVE FUN WITH IT!

Stay tuned for my actual NaNo pep talk in a few weeks!

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