NaNoWriMo: 5 hours to go, can I panic yet?

After all your preparation, notes, ideas, outlining, research and dreams of NaNoWriMo logos (Anyone? No? Maybe just me then) it all comes down to this one final moment. Yes, dear blog reader, National Novel Writing Month is almost upon us! I can almost hear the collective anxious pause as novelists all around the world sit with fingers poised, ready to unleash our imaginations in 30 days of writing frenzy!

The most common question I’m seeing in forums and Tweets is: “Can I panic yet?”

In short. Nah. Don’t sweat it! Maybe you’ve spent weeks preparing for the writing onslaught, from endless outlines and character bio’s to research and setting up your NaNo Survival Kit. Or perhaps you’re just going to wing it and set those fingers to work translating the stuff trapped in your noggin into wordy goodness.

Whatever floats your boat.

And the statement I see most often is: “I’m not prepared for NaNo.”

You are. And you’re not. No one is. Not really. You can prepare as much as you like but in the end it is your imagination that breathes life into your story and characters. Those lovely sparks of inspiration are what you want to capture. Susan over at Three Cats on a Sofa says it best in her post: Don’t Write What You Know, Write What You Feel.

I have a few last-minute tips to calm your chi and enhance your karma. Or to put it another way: “Take a deep breath, focus, then let the words flow like mountain spring water, clear and true.”

6 Last Minute Preparation Tips

# 1 – Be excited.

And why the hell not? This is a big deal dudes! If you’ve never written a novel before then by all means let out a whoop of joy as the NaNo clock hits 00:00:00:00! This is an adventure not a chore. Thrive and let your characters free to do what they do best. If you’re a seasoned Wrimo, then sure, whoop away if you want. Get that adrenaline flowing, it’s gonna be a wild ride!

# 2 – Don’t sweat the mistakes.

Writers aren’t robots churning out perfection. Everyone makes mistakes, you, me, them, everybody! Don’t worry about it. Take your Doubt Demon and lock it away in a sealed box, then encase in concrete, lead and another layer of concrete. When done find a handy deep ravine/river/ocean/volcano and chuck the box into it. Hey presto! Doubt Demon be gone!

# 3 – Provisions.

Are you fully stocked? Do you have enough coffee/cake/jelly beans/voodoo doll/nicotine/soothing finger tip cream/lack of children? You still have time to grab what you need for your first NaNo hours. If not then go find a store/garage/all night thingy and stock up. Don’t worry, we won’t start without you. Um. Well maybe a little, but you can catch up, right? That’s the spirit.

# 4 – Imaginationland Access All Areas Pass.

If, like me, you’ve been dreaming, scheming, plotting and planning for this wonderous event then no doubt your brain is juiced up and ready for action. When the clock strikes GO! remember that this is about what’s inside your nut, the strange and amazing stuff stored in your imagination. Use your research, notes, outlines etc but never forget that there are no limits to what you can create so long as you keep using that special Pass to Imaginationland!

# 5 – Support one another.

There will be plenty of people who panic. OMG I can’t do this. I’m not ready. My plot sucks. What the hell was I thinking? Oh no…the rum, why is the rum always gone? Be supportive of your fellow Wrimo’s. Post soothing words on their blogs, offer encouragement on the NaNo forums, cheer people on in your #NaNoWriMo Twitter stream. You never know, you might need some help yourself at some point. Pay it forward!

# 6 – Smile. Laugh. Sing. Cry.

This is a fun time. Smile as you write. Laugh when someone does something funny, character or fellow Wrimo. Sing to your hearts content. Got your NaNo soundtrack ready? Inspirational music is awesome. Cry when your story takes you to unexpected places where sadness lives. This is good. It means you are connected with your story.

Don’t mean to rain on your parade but…

Sooner or later you will realise that all the preparation can only get you so far. Then it’s up to you. You must conquer your Doubt Demon (if it escapes from its prison) and slay your Plot Bunny with a smack across the face. Hey, Plot Bunny, I see the hole, take a hike! I’ve done some preparation, bits and pieces anyway. I know my basic plot and my burning question that must be answered. I have a vague idea of my middle and end and ideas for some killer scenes.

But…yeah, there’s always a but, right? I haven’t got it all mapped out. I want my characters to do strange and unexpected things, and my story to take me places I didn’t consider. And that’s the joy of writing. The unknown and unexpected. I love it!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a World of Warcraft fan and have recently slipped back into the virtual world of Azeroth. So I’ll leave you with the thunderous words of warning from Illidan Stormrage, may he encourage you to defy him!

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10 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: 5 hours to go, can I panic yet?

  1. can you feel your excitement across the ocean Dave. Go for it! You have amazing stuff inside you just itching to come out through your fingertips and onto the page. And you have a great cheering section too! Write on!

    • Thanks Joss! It’s not just what’s inside me that makes me write, but everything my senses experience. I have to say if it wasn’t for reading poetry from yourself, and Evelyn at Filling a Hole, or April Denton, I would be lacking in appreciation for what I think of a beautiful art form.

    • Turn panic into garbage. Write junk. Write whatever comes into your head. Then as you get into the flow you can come back and change the crappy stuff later on. I’ve just done 1,600 words but had to dump the first 3 paragraphs because they were so unbelievably stupid!

  2. Pingback: Day 29: Last-Minute Advice | Zan Nim - one writer, many tools, lots of advice.

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