[Guest Post] What to Expect When You’re Expecting (NaNoWriMo)

Kaitlin and husband Michael - co-author of The Athele Series - dressed for the Steampunk Ball.

Having done NaNoWriMo for seven-odd years, I’m going to offer you some (parsley) sage (rosemary and thyme) advice about what to expect in each week of your legendary Noveling adventure.

Week 1

Week 1 is like the first rush of romance in a new relationship.  You are just so darned excited to finally be going steady with your novel that all your worries over its little flaws don’t even register!  Ideas flow like the butter from movie theater dispensers; almost too fast and hot to handle – you’re racing to get everything down!  Midnight comes on November 1st, and you’re all “WOO!  THIS IS GONNA BE THE BEST THING EVER!  I’VE GOT MY COFFEE AND MY OUTLINE AND I A GOING TO ROCK THIS!”

Okay, so maybe not in all caps, but you get the idea.  And you know what?  That’s totally cool.  Go forth, young noveler and write as fast as your fingers and caffeine addled, sleep deprived brain will allow you.  This is pretty much my favorite part of the month.

Week 2

Week 2 has a reputation amongst NaNoers: it’s the most difficult week.  I’ve found that my week two is fine for the first half, and then kind of gets a little slow towards the second half, as if my arteries have been clogged by all the butter from week one (I’m going to let go of this comparison, now).  Symptoms of the week 2 doldrums include poking at your word count, wondering what the heck happened to y our outline, and bouts of author’s angst (also known as I SUCK, MY NOVEL SUCKS, EVERYTHING SUCKS! – and yes, that’s always in caps).

Remember, this is only a sprint insomuch as it’s a lot of words in a smaller amount of time than one is accustomed to.  You have all day to make your daily goal, so do it in little chunks.  Or be like me in week two and get yourself a large coffee rather than a medium, plus perhaps a donut or other sugary confection, and power through it.  (Get Powerthirst if necessary.  In lieu of running fast, you might write fast.)

Finally, make sure you’re signed up for NaNoWriMo emails because they have pep talks from famous published authors.  They’re often amazing.  I nerded out when Lemony Snicket was in my inbox, read the email about ten times, and then proceeded to have a bang-up writing day.  People like Lindsey are awesome too – and seeing as they run the show, they know how you feel!

Week 3

When you’ve had a tantrum, you eventually pick yourself up and look around and start to see the bright side.  Week 3 is this stage.  You’re still a little unsteady, but you’ve gone to the writer’s bathroom, looked in the mirror a la some Rocky film and given yourself a mini pep talk (or you’ve heeded my advice and let the Nanowrimo folks do it).  You have a plot that might just hang together.  That plot hole from week two is obviously closeable with just a sentence’s worth of explanation in this later chapter.  Everything is starting to come together!

If week two was really bad for you, keep yourself above water just for week three.  Trust in the novel – the heart of the words (I’m sorry, Yu Gi Oh! Fans).  Just remember ‘quantity, not quality,’ keep on truckin’.  Look back to the beginning of your document – don’t read it – just look.  You’ve passed the half way point and holy crap – there’s 40 pages or so worth of writing there!  You’re doing great!  Proceed on to…

Week 4

This is it!  This is arguably the most exciting week in NaNoWriMo!  It’s the light at the end of the tunnel, the final lap in this thirty day blitzkrieg of writing!  You may possibly feel as if your brain is dissolving and your fingers falling off from so much typing, but never fear!  You’ve got this!

Power on through the finish – cross the line and git’r done!  Last year, week 4 was actually the hardest week for me, but that was because I had a huge fight scene at the end of my novel and fight scenes aren’t exactly my strong suit.  But I sat down in my little Dunkin’ Donuts, grabbed myself a large Americano and crossed that finish line with confetti, streamers, and much rejoicing.  The store broke out into song and dance with me in the middle and…

Hm.  No.  Never mind.  Must have been my coffee-spiked dreams that night.

And that’s about what to expect.  As your motivation for the time being, I’m here to unabashedly tell you that you all can do this.  You’ve got a VP, you don’t really even need a story.  Just a whole lot of the caffeinated beverage of your choice, something to write with, and a lot of spirit (or is that more coffee?  I’m not sure.) Ready?  Set?  Go!

Kaitlin is a High Fantasy author.  With her husband, Michael, she is publishing The Athele Series, set to launch in winter of 2012.  Their blog, www.theatheleseries.wordpress.com, talks about writing, the fantasy genre, and publishing.

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