Unfortunately, several friends of mine were also weak enough to fall prey to this supreme temptation of the fall season. One of them asked, any advice for the virgin NaNo-er? Here was my response:
Two words. Fire. Hose.
This project is about producing text any way you can. Here’s how my years doing NaNo went.
First year, started Nov 1 with an outline and a set of characters, all the way through the last chapter. Good story idea, started pounding on it confidently. Gave up at 15,000 words. Nearly all of the text was complete garbage. Sometime I'll show it to you just to make you feel better about your own writing skill. Seriously, don't get despressed just yet.
Second year, abandoned the idea of writing an actual novel and just used the word count as a whip to keep me active. Absolutely the best 32,000 words I’d ever produced to that point. I did have a vague idea for a Middle-Earth-sized storyline (like as in Lord of the Rings + Hobbit + Children of Hurin + Silmarillion sized), but I didn’t have anything like an outline or a clear story I wanted to tell. After just pumping out text in random scenes and sequences, I was in essence testing my ideas, rolling text out on the page and saying, nope, that’s not it, nope, that’s not it, hey that’s kind of cool. 32,000 words later, I had three very well developed character ideas I’m still working with, a massively developed world with tons of actionable cool ideas, and three or four places to begin actual novels. I was really pleased with last year, though I never made the 50,000 word mark.
This year, I’m continuing the tradition with a little more focus. I’m going to try to write more complete scenes if I can, but if not, I’ll still work with fragments. Same sprawling world.
All in all, the main advice is not to worry about producing quality. Just produce. No spell check. No polishing. No searching for the right adjective or metaphor or name (this one is aimed directly at my head). After 15,000 words, things will start to look up…
Heck, Dwayne his first year wrote 10,000 words of Amish pseudo-autobiography… If what we've written counts, anything you produce will…
May the breakneck writing begin!