Posted in All Articles, Be a smart writer

How to revamp an old and horrible piece of writing into something useful?

Writers, especially the ones who started their work early (in teenage or childhood years) hoard tons of old text files in their writing folders – files that can neither be published (because of quality), nor discarded (because of sentiment). Today, I will teach you how to recycle an old piece into something you will be proud to show to the world.

Here are a few ideas of what you can do with an old text file after revamping it:

  • Incorporate it into the new novel you are writing (and save time).
  • Combine it with other revamped fragments to construct a new novel (and save effort).
  • Release it as a free stand alone story (and use it to gather new readers).
  • Turn it into a fan fiction of your own novel (and promote it this way).

Your writing folder is an El Dorado of abandoned prompts, fragments and even novels, all of which belong to you and can be used in any way. This sounds very exciting, however, before you jump up into old stuff, please keep in mind that:

  • The style of your older works might be completely different from your current style (in some way, it was another you  who had written them).
  • Your older works might be of such poor quality that you might be able to retrieve only a few scenes, and revamping might take more time than writing things from scratch.
  • You might feel really bored and frustrated during the revamping procress, as you will be dealing with writings that you have already abandoned once (and left abandoned for years).

I’ve always had the good habit of backing up my writing, which leaves me with a legacy of 12 years of my own writing. It keeps me a prisoner to my old style and old ideas, and sometimes I just want to break free. However, it would be a total waste to delete everything without thinking twice. So, I’ve decided to recycle and revamp what I can, and let go of the rest. If you want to read more on how to clean your writing folder, do it here.

And now, I’ll teach you how to revamp an old piece of writing.

STEP #1: Read your text

For the purpose of this blog post, we will work on a short  fragment of a Harry Potter fanfiction that I’ve written in 2007 (I was 13 years old back then). It’s not very good, and not really an indicator of my current style, so please, lower your expectations towards it.

The protagonist of the fanfiction is Mary Potter, the daughter of Harry and Ginny. She doesn’t want to go to Hogwarts for some reason, yet she has to.

The original version of this story was written in Polish. I translated it with Google to save time; I’m not going to fix translation mistakes now, since I will be rewriting this text anyways – so please just ignore them.

Warm days were ending very quickly. The last rays of the sun disappeared behind the horizon of the dark hills. However, the sky that day had a beautiful, specific color. It was like an orange blending with a delicate golden, slowly turning into gray.
“It’s magical…” Mary whispered, resting her elbows on the windowsill. She put her head on her shoulders and stared at the horizon.
Mary Potter was an extremely peculiar girl. She could spend time moving mountains. Today, however, she stopped by the window to admire the clouds.
Suddenly the floor creaked. Mary remained in her position when she felt the touch of one’s hand on her shoulder.
She turned her head slowly. She saw her mother’s smiling face. The red curls gracefully fell on her shoulders. Mary even dreamed of having such a hairstyle. Unfortunately her hair was maroon and always matted.
“Mary, it’s time for dinner,” Ginny said, leaning over her. “Are you studying the sky again?”
“I don’t want to go back to school.” Mary reluctantly removed her hands from the window sill. “I want to be on vacation!”
Ginny sighed. Mary’s reluctance to go to school was terrifying. The girl has always been great and had lots of friends – so what was the problem?
“You have to go back … You can do it … Let’s go downstairs before Harry and Carla eat all the sandwiches!”
Mary smiled. Ginny left, closing the door quietly behind her. Mary looked again for the view outside the window. She saw Elly’s house standing nearby. She saw Godric’s Hollow – a city, in which dusk was slowly falling.

As you can see, this text is not that good. The language is basic and riddled with mistakes, the characters’ reactions are awkward, and reading doesn’t go smoothly. Let’s see what we can do with it to make it better!

STEP #2: Analyze the text OUTSIDE OF ITS CONTEXT

If we separate this text from the context (which is J. K. Rowling’s world), we will be left with a text about a girl who doesn’t want to return to school after summer vacation. Such a fragment is pretty universal, but we can only recycle it once, so we need to make a mindful choice, how to use its potential in the best possible way.

STEP #3: Try to put this text into A NEW, CHOSEN CONTEXT

I’ve always wanted to write a low effort teenage novella with lots of drama that takes place in a vampire academy. Let’s recycle this text into the first chapter of it. In order to put it into the teenage novella’s context, I’ll need to change some names, some facts and some words. I used the red marker so you can see changes right away:

Warm days were ending very quickly. The last rays of the sun disappeared behind the horizon of the dark hills. However, the sky that day had a beautiful, specific color. It was like an orange blending with a delicate golden, slowly turning into gray.
“It’s mesmerizing…” Natalie whispered, resting her elbows on the windowsill. She put her head on her shoulders and stared at the horizon.
Natalie Silber was an extremely peculiar girl. She could spend time moving mountains. Today, however, she stopped by the window to admire the clouds.
Suddenly the floor creaked. Natalie remained in her position when she felt the touch of one’s hand on her shoulder.
She turned her head slowly. She saw her mother’s smiling face. The maroon curls gracefully fell on her shoulders. Natalie even dreamed of having such a hairstyle. Unfortunately her hair was straight, thin and copper colored.

Natalie, it’s time for family reunion,” her mom said, leaning over her. “Are you studying the sky again?”
“I don’t want to go back to school.” Natalie reluctantly removed her hands from the window sill. “I want to be on vacation!”
Her mom sighed. Natalie reluctance to go to school was terrifying. The girl has always been great and had lots of friends – so what was the problem?
“You have to go back … You can do it … Let’s go downstairs before your dad and Stefanie drink all blood without us!

Natalie smiled. Mrs. Silber left, closing the door quietly behind her. Natalie looked again for the view outside the window. She saw Quinn’s house standing nearby. She saw dusk slowly falling on the valley.

This was quick and easy… it’s the next step which will require the most work:

STEP #4: Start developmental editing and don’t stop until the text looks like you’ve finished writing it minutes ago.

The reason why you need to do developmental editing, and not just express editing, is as follows:

You don’t want the reader to figure out that chapters 1, 3, 8 and 13 of your novel were written by your 13 year old self, the chapters 2, 4, 10 and 12 were written by your 15 year old self, and chapters 5, 6, 7 and 11 were written by your present self.

You must mask the fact that you’ve been stealing like crazy from your younger self’s writing treasury. Here’s how I’ve done it (follow the blue marker):

Warm days filled with sunlight were ending quicker now, indicating the inevitable beginning of October. Natalie Silber was sitting at the windowsill, with her elbows rested on its cool marble surface. She rested her chin on the palms of her hands and stared at the horizon.

It’s mesmerizing She thought, watching the last rays of the sun disappearing behind the hills. Even though it was gone, the sky kept its unusual color scheme. It was orange blending delicately into gold, which was slowly turning into glitter gray.

Natalie Silber was indeed a peculiar girl. A year ago at this time, she had enough energy to move mountains. Now, she could barely look at the landscape in front of her eyes. She found her gaze wandering pointlessly from cloud to cloud.

Suddenly, she heard the familiar creak of the old floorShe didn’t bother to move and remained in her position even when she felt someone’s hand on her shoulder. She turned her head slowly and saw her mother’s smiling face. She hasn’t changed at all ever since Natalie was born. She was a perpetually young and beautiful vampire, with perfect skin and maroon curls gracefully falling on her shoulders. Natalie had always felt jealous of them. Her hair was straight, thin and copper colored.

Natalie, it’s time for family reunion,” her mom said. “I’d like you spend more time with us, especially that within weeks you have to back to the academy.” 

I don’t want to go there,” Natalie reluctantly turned away from the windowsill to look her mother in the eyes. “I want to quit. Why can’t you just let me?

She had been begging her parents to transfer her to another academy, but they kept refusing. She knew that if she had told them the real reason, they’d understand. But, she had to keep it secret.

“Natalie, I don’t understand it,” her mom sighed. “It’s such a prestigious academy. Your grades are perfect and you have so many friends in there… Trust me, everything is going to be fine!”

“If you say so,” Natalie sent her a sad smile. She knew that this was a fight she wasn’t going to win, so she didn’t even want to continue this conversation.

Her mom sent her an encouraging smile.

“Let’s go downstairs before your dad and Stefanie drink all blood without us!

“I’ll be there in a moment, ok? I want to stay a few more minutes alone,” asked Natalie.

Mrs. Silber nodded and quietly closed the door behind her. Natalie turned her face to the window. She could see Quinn’s house standing nearby. Quinn was the only person who knew what had happened in the academy, and on whom Natalie could   count.

She sighed to herself, sad she couldn’t discuss it with her sister. She and Stefanie were of the same age, but they have grown apart after everything that had happened. One summer spent together wasn’t going to fix it.

Dusk was slowly falling on the valley. Natalie got up and went downstairs.

This text is much better and we could actually stop here, but let’s make it shine even more, so that it amazes us, and makes us believe that it was totally worth it to spend our time on it:

STEP #5: Replace simple words and phrases with more sophisticated ones.

There are two ways to do it:

  1. Reread the text, and if you get a better idea of how to express a thought that’s already on the screen, just go for it!
  2. Write down a list of words, idioms, facial expressions, gestures etc. to incorporate into your text, and then do it.

I personally prefer working with a list, especially that English isn’t my native language. I often create lists while reading or researching vocabulary, so I always have lots of new words to use – and I suggest you do the same!

Here’s the list that I’ve prepared for Natalie’s story:

  1. mahogany
  2. persimmon
  3. illusory reality
  4. lower one’s head
  5. take in a sharp breath
  6. reassure
  7. be lost forever
  8. elegant twisted bun (hair)
  9. smooth and sleek (hair)
  10. resplendent
  11. elliptical
  12. lunacy
  13. yet
  14. distinct from
  15. disturbing dream
  16. wooden
  17. pallid
  18. satisfactory

Now, I changed a few things in the text, using the words above and changing what I felt was necessary to improve the final result (pay attention to pink marker):

Warm days filled with sunlight were ending quicker now, indicating the inevitable beginning of October. Natalie Silber was sitting at the windowsill, with her elbows rested on its cool marble surface. She rested her chin on the palms of her hands and stared at the horizon.

The illusory reality of life is mesmerizing She thought, watching the last rays of the sun disappearing behind the hills. Even though it was gone, the sky kept its unusual color scheme. It was orange blending delicately into gold, which was slowly turning into glitter gray.

Natalie Silber was indeed a peculiar girl. A year ago at this time, she had enough energy to move mountains. Now, she could barely look at the landscape in front of her eyes. She felt like her personality was lost forever. She could spend a lot of time, doing nothing, just letting her gaze wander pointlessly from cloud to cloud. 

Suddenly, she heard the familiar creak of the old wooden floorShe didn’t bother to move and remained in her position even when she felt someone’s hand on her shoulder. She turned her head slowly and saw her mother’s smiling face.

She hasn’t changed at all ever since Natalie was born. She was a perpetually young and resplendent vampire, with perfect pallid skin and an elegant twisted bun with two mahogany curls gracefully falling on her cheeks. Natalie had always felt jealous of itHer own hair was so distinct from her mother’s – it was short, smooth and sleek, and persimmon  colored.

Natalie, it’s time for family reunion,” her mom said, adjusting her elliptical glasses. “I’d like you spend more time with us, especially that within weeks you have to back to the academy.” 

I don’t want to go there,” Natalie reluctantly turned away from the windowsill to look her mother in the eyes. “I want to quit. Why can’t you just let me? She lowered her head.

She had been begging her parents to transfer her to another academy, yet they kept refusing. She knew that if she had told them the real reason, they’d understand. But, she had to keep it secret. As if doing so could change it into a disturbing dream which can be forgotten within weeks…

“Natalie, I don’t understand it,” her mom took in a sharp breath“It’s such a prestigious academy, you worked so hard to get there, it’s lunacy to give it up now! Your grades are satisfactory and you have so many friends in there… Trust me, everything is going to be fine!” She reassured her.

“If you say so,” Natalie sent her a sad smile. She knew that this was a fight she wasn’t going to win, so she didn’t even want to continue this conversation.

Her mom sent her another encouraging smile.

“Let’s go downstairs before your dad and Stefanie drink all blood without us!

“I’ll be there in a moment, ok? I want to stay a few more minutes alone,” asked Natalie.

Mrs. Silber nodded and quietly closed the door behind her. Natalie turned her face to the window. She could see Quinn’s house. It was nearby. Quinn was the only person who knew what had happened in the academy, and on whom Natalie could count.

She sighed to herself, sad she couldn’t discuss it with her sister. Stefanie was of the same age, but they have grown apart after everything that had happened. One summer spent together wasn’t going to fix it.

Dusk was slowly falling on the valley. Natalie got up and went downstairs.”

And… We’re done!

It took some time, but I really like the final result. I’m much less tired than I’d be if I had to write this scene from scratch, and to be honest, I’m starting to feel excited about this story!

I hope it inspired you to revamp an old piece of your writing as well.

Feel free to post fragments here in the comments, so I can see your results!

Good luck!

Posted in All Articles, Be a smart writer, For young writers, Writer's problems

How to properly refuel your creativity, when original inspiration sources don’t work anymore and you have a novel to finish?

What do you do when the flames in your fireplace die out and you are planning to stay up for the night? Obviously, you have to add wood.

Same goes with your creativity. If you feel it’s burning out, you must add some fuel.

Now… What kind of fuel you use matters more than you think.

Do you know that it is possible to light fires in all colors of the rainbow thanks to chemistry? If you use boric acid, your fire will be green. If you use a non-toxic potassium compound, your fire will be purple. And if you burn plastic, it’s not going to burn well.

Why am I talking about it?

Because your fuel choices for writing should be dictated by the type of inspiration you are trying to obtain. If you want to feel inspired for fantasy – you must use fantasy as a fuel.

One of the reasons why people can’t finish their books is, they use the wrong fuel for inspiration.

They have purple fire in the fireplace, but instead of buying fuel for purple fire, they use the fuel for green fire. Obviously – the fire becomes green. Instead of being inspired for fantasy, they inspired themselves for non-fiction. This will very likely make them abandon the fantasy topic and start writing non-fiction.

If you fuel with recipe books, you can’t write a crime! Unless your master chef chooses to stab his victim with a kebab skewer. Which I guess wasn’t your main idea.

Now let’s talk about plastic as a fuel for our inspiration.

Plastic is a topic that sounds nice and maybe even appeals to us, but when we try to write it, just doesn’t work.

Example:

A pacifist reads a gripping murder mystery, which inspires them to write one, too. They plan the story and start researching poisons and weapons. However, violence grosses them out so much, that they actually can’t turn their heroes into murderers.

This is my case. Kazutaka Kodaka, Gōshō Aoyama, Joe Alex and Agatha Christie all make me want to write a murder mystery full of plot twists. But… this inspiration is plastic, cause I can’t write crime novels, and besides, I’m more for writing that promotes peace.

I think I will write a crime novel one day – I have plot and character ideas in my head that just won’t let me go. But right now, reading or watching anything with detectives is only fueling my creativity with plastic. It’s not gonna “burn” into writing, cause there are too many things that block me – for example, lack of skills required by the genre.

Now, let’s discuss creative fire.

Yes! There is such a thing as creative fire! It’s the opposite of the creative burnout.

Creative fire happens when you have added so much fuel to your creativity furnace that you are itching to start writing, and once you start writing, you will be writing until physical tiredness. The creative fire will keep on burning, allowing you to write massive amounts of high quality text in short periods of time.

Making creative fire is easy. You just need to refuel a lot with the right type of fuel and prevent yourself from writing for some time. After a while, you will be faster than a novel writing machine – I promise!

I will tell you now, how I learned the lesson about refueling creativity properly.

When I was 11, I was a fan of Code Lyoko. It’s an old French cartoon about kids who were fighting a computer virus in  digital world. I used to read a very popular fanfiction about it. This fanfiction had over 150 episodes, or maybe even more. The author wrote very often, almost every day, or every three days at most. I wondered, how she author managed to stay inspired for such a long time, and then I noticed that newest episodes were showing up each day in the afternoon, after Code Lyoko was aired on our local TV. I developed a theory, that the author was able to keep writing her fanfiction for so long, cause she was constantly inspired with the right kind of fuel.

Later, I observed other fanfiction writers. I’ve noticed that it was very easy for people to write about a certain topic if:

  • They were genuinely interested in it;
  • They found other people genuinely interested in it;
  • Those other people also wrote fanfictions about it;

Problems started when the topic became stale to most people who were interested into it.

I will give you another example:

D.N.Angel was an anime about phantom thieves with wings that gathered quite a lot of fans. However, since there wasn’t a second series of it, many fans abandoned it and turned to other things that inspired them.

As long as you can find something that will replace your original source of inspiration, that had already run out, you don’t need to worry.

My fanfiction about D.N.Angel is still somewhere in my writing folder, unfinished. I remember I really loved this story and I let it go with a heavy heart. If I could turn back in time to talk to my older self as a more experienced writer, I would just stay: “read books about angels, girl, and the inspiration will be back in an instant.”

And this is the thing that I want you to remember from this post.

Learn to use different sources to refuel your writing inspiration;  use sources that are connected to what you want to write, and when a source stops inspiring you, find another one. And it will be fine.

I hope this helps.

Stay inspired!

Posted in All Articles, Be a smart writer

How to succeed at NaNoWriMo?

Some time ago I have started a debate on whether we all should take part in NaNoWriMo. If you are decided to go for it, then this post is for you!

Step 1: Find your time and your place.

From November 1st to November 30th, you will be writing 1667 words daily. When are you going to write them? Is there a place in which you can isolate yourself from all the outside noise and write? Think about it even before starting. Choosing one place – like a café that gets deserted at twilight – is conducive to creating a routine, and routine will motivate you when the initial excitement fades away.

Step 2: Prepare for the worst.

You will have to write around 20 pages A4 per week, which is a lot. You will constantly check your word count to see if you are getting to the daily target. And you will be frustrated, why it’s so low, why did you write only 300 words and not 500 as you thought. You won’t know what to write, the energies will leave you quicker than you thought and you might realize it’s not as easy as you thought. Why am I being it so negative? Because I want you to know, that it’s common to struggle during NaNoWriMo. It’s not a 1 km race. It’s a marathon. Try to do your best, but remember about your limits.

Step 3: Realize you are competing against yourself.

Exactly. Don’t look at the word counts of others. I know it will be tempting, but it has nothing to do with your journey. You are competing against yourself, your own insecurities and  weaknesses. I challenge you to do better than you usually do. If you write 300 words daily, write 400 on each NaNoWriMo day!

Step 4: Understand what is the real prize

Each word, each fragment, each chapter is your success. You are winning just by participating. What you write in NaNoWriMo is the real prize. And not some badge that you can display on your profile. I promise you that after NaNoWriMo you probably won’t even visit there; until the next NaNoWriMo.

Step 5: Prepare materials for your novel.

A few months ago I have written an article entitled “10 tips to maximize chances for finishing your novel”. In this article, I explain what to prepare to facilitate the writing process. If you follow the advice in this article, your novel is basically built before you start writing – and all you have to do is write, basing on what you’ve prepared. Please do not skip this article, as it contains the most useful advice that I can give you for your personal project to succeed. Read the article here, it’s free and waiting for your attention.

Step 6: Prepare motivation for your novel.

I have already written about it in the last section of the article above, too, but here are some extra tips that might make you more enthusiastic:

  • Write a list of 100 reasons why you want to write this book and stick it in a visible place in your room.
  • Prepare a prompts jar: write or research a list of prompts, then print it and put it into a jar. Each time you run out of inspiration, put your hand in the prompt jar. It might be a novel-saver!
  • Tell everyone about your novel. Chances are, they will give you some tips or you may get new, amazing ideas while talking.
  • Do NaNoWriMo with a friend – it’s always easier in a group than alone, because your buddy might motivate you and read your writing – which will in turn inspire you to keep on writing.
  • Schedule weekend trips to places that are somehow connected to your novel. For example, if your novel is taking place in a spooky castle, maybe it’s a good idea to go see the nearby ruins and take photos that you might later describe.

Step 7: Stop worrying about NaNoWriMo… Enjoy it!

If you take a look at NaNoWriMo forums, you will see that a lot of people are more worried about it than actually enjoying it. And NaNoWriMo is an awesome way to validate your writing journey, especially if you haven’t published yet.

One final tip:

Try not to delete anything when writing and try not to edit while you write. By deleting, you are only undermining your word count, and editing will make you lose precious time that should be spent on writing. NaNoWriMo is all about writing, and not deleting, improving or editing. You can do those things in December, when you have a ready novel.

I hope that all of you can reach the planned word counts and are awarded with a beautiful and intriguing novel at the end of November! Good luck everyone and stay inspired!

Posted in Be a smart writer

A lesson from agriculture: why writing multiple things at once is a good idea.

When I was a teen, I used to write several stories at once. I didn’t know if it was a good idea. Now I know that it is, and I am going to explain you why.

We all have heard of crop rotation, haven’t we? To have an awesome harvest it’s best to sow different types of seeds each year. So that:

  • this year plant A can take nutrients A from soil;
  • next year plant B can take nutrients B from soil;
  • and in two years, plant C can take nutrients C from soil.

During these three years, our field had time to replenish its resources and we don’t need to worry about a poor plant A harvest in the next 3 years. It will grow better than it would, if we sowed it immediately after this year.

“Plants” are novels, and “nutrients” are the internal resources that allow us to write novels.

Those internal resources are: excitement about the writing process, things to say on topics that we’ve chosen, research materials prepared, vocabulary bank, motivation and energy to continue writing etc.

If we write novel A for longer periods of time, then we tend to run out of the internal resources. But – watch out! We run out of the internal resources only for novel A. Not for novel B or novel C.

Choose novel A as your main project, and then novels B and C as the runner-ups. If you  had enough of all of them, take novels D and E as “sweet escapes”. I often enjoy writing something out of my usual schedule – I usually find myself full of ideas and the worflow progresses easily.

The main advantage of the crop rotation writing technique is that you will be able to take breaks from your main project (novel A) without lowering your monthly word count.

The main disadvantage is that the word count for each of the novels will add up slower. However! Nothing disappears in this universe and you will be grateful for all the fragments that you have written earlier.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing multiple projects at once as long as you commit to them. 

Choose 3-5 novels which are “must-write” and put them in a priority queue. Even if you work on novels that are lower in the priority queue, they are “must-write”, so your writing work doesn’t go to waste – it will pay off later.

The priority queue should have a limit: you want to avoid the situation where you add three sentences every day to your 15 projects.

The technique of writing multiple things at once works because our internal resources don’t always replenish themselves at the same speed.

Example:

Let’s say you have two novels: novel A is a mystery, and novel B is travel adventure.

If you watch a mystery TV show and read detective novels, you will refuel for novel A frequenly and writing will be easy.

However, if you only feel inspired to write novel B when you travel to a certain place, you will have to go there to refuel.

Because of this, writing novel A will be quicker and easier.

But – if the mystery TV show stops airing and you’ve had enough of Hercules Poirot – you might find out that you have more resources to write the novel B. Which is also a good thing!

I will be honest with you – I seldom feel “always inspired” for the novel I’m currently working on. But, I almost always feel “always inspired” for those 4-5  “must-write” projects that are in priority queue. Cause if I don’t write novel C today, I write novel D.

And one day, that amazing moment will come, when you will finish your projects one after another.

I am not saying that focusing about one novel is bad; on the contrary – you must be focused on one novel to finish it.

But, if you feel you really can’t squeeze out another meaningful sentence, then it’s better to take a break to refuel, and in the meantime work on something else that you are planning to write anyways.

And last, but not least:

!!! Your main goal is to finishing what you already started. !!!

Try not to add more on your plate than you can actually take. Add new projects only after you’ve finished (or given up on) old ones. Change projects only if you really feel you can’t write that text anymore. Be persistent because it’s the key.

I hope it helps.

Stay inspired!

Posted in All Articles, Be a smart writer

NaNoWriMo: should all authors participate in it?

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and happens in November, cold and quiet month of late fall. Chilling weather, hot spicy tea, and blankets create an atmosphere which is conducive to writing.

The rule of NaNoWriMo is: write 1,666 words per day to finish a 50 000 words novel by the end of November. If you make it, you are the winner. If you don’t, nothing bad happens – you can continue your work with goal trackers or alternatively postpone it till Camp NaNoWriMo (similar event that happens in April).

But returning to November: each November thousands of aspiring writers start their novels, and this is awesome. So much will to write, so much motivation, writing in a group, meeting other people, sharing you chapters and scenes with the world…

But should we all participate in this 30 days long marathon? Is NaNoWriMo for everyone?

My answer is:

If you haven’t done it yet, then you should at least consider it. It’s a fun experience and it’s one of the ways to validate your journey as a writer. Especially if you’ve never written a novel and need an extra push to do your best. Then, NaNoWriMo is the perfect time for you.

However, I do believe that NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone. Here is what I have learned after participating in NaNoWriMo 2017 and Camp NaNoWriMo 2018:

  1. It’s difficult. Not everyone is capable of writing 1,666 words per day. Word count depends on many factors like time, inspiration, amount of things to say, life situation, duties to perform, state of mind etc. I wrote more about it in my article Review of “2k to 10k” by Rachel Aaron: is writing 10k words per day truly possible?
  2. It puts you under pressure. Because, if you write any less than 1666 words (which is very likely if you write anything less than than on a regular basis), the deficit will accumulate over time and you will have even more and more to write to make up for it. Which is stressing, frustrating and…
  3. It makes you freewrite. If you haven’t read my article Why you should stop freewriting right now, do it now. When you force yourself to write and focus on reaching a certain word count, the quality of your work plummets. You might have written 50 000 words by the end of November, but how much of that is actually worthy of being published? How much must be corrected or even removed from the text?
  4. You start comparing yourself to more efficient writers. NaNoWriMo is a competition and statistics are readily available. There are people with 70 000 words crafted by the middle of the month. When you see these people, and compare their results to your 10 000 words and huge word count deficit, it’s easy to get depressed and discouraged, and give up.
  5. If you haven’t prepared well, you are likely to fail. 1666 words per day is 11662 words per week, which equals 20 pages. To write 20 pages weekly and 80 pages monthly you must have something to talk about. To sit down on first November and write a book without any plan is incredibly hard, especially if you are still an aspiring writer who doesn’t have so much novel writing experience yet.
  6. It might distract you from your other writing goals. What if you are busy editing the novel you’ve written in the summer? What if you need to promote a book that you’ve just published? Each writer is on a different journey. I write intensively from January to September, and from October to December I just want to rest, refuel and plan my work for the next year.

There are different ways in which you can celebrate NaNoWriMo. For example, you can:

  • Support another NaNoWriMo participant. Reading someone else’s work and providing feedback is a huge motivator.
  • Adjust NaNoWriMo to your current goals. For example, if you want to write poems, write a poem per day. Or, if you need to prepare marketing materials for your book, create one marketing material (e.g. banner) per day. You might also choose to write a short story.

I hope that this article will help you decide if and how you’d like to celebrate NaNoWriMo. I will write another article soon on how to prepare for NaNoWriMo to maximize your chances for success. Stay inspired!