The start of NaNoWriMo always holds a little magic in it. It's a moment when everything seems possible, the whole story wide open for the taking, you just have to commit to it. During the first week I tend to write over the 1667 words due a day and sail through my words with ease.
For me, Nano is a time to play and to write without fear for just that month. I write with the idea that these words are all garbage and don't matter. And maybe that idea won't work for you, but for me, that takes the pressure off of me. The idea that I don't have to get the words just worse is okay. If I switch from past to present and back again, it's alright. Shift from first to third? No problem. The draft forgives all my sins and lets me just focus on getting the words down. In my NaNoWriMo drafts I can chase after every subplot that pops into my head and see where they lead. Sometimes it leads to a big mess that I end with an 'XXX' note to delete it all later and pretend it never happened. But sometimes, those detours show me the heart of my story and what I really am trying to convey. Nano gives me the space to learn about my story without getting lost in it.
Of course, this is all how I feel during the first week, I love the start of a story. The beginning is where I have a lot of fun and feel incredibly optimistic about the whole thing, it's the dreaded 33% mark where things start to go downhill. So, as we creep towards that mark I'm trying to remind myself of a few things and maybe these reminders will help you too.
1. It's okay to just free write
Sometimes I may trail off from the novel narrative and spend time just writing about how much I don't want to be writing. A few times I've even written the characters within the story discussing how clearly the author didn't know anything. It ended up making me laugh so much I wrote way more than I'd planned. Did it make it into the final draft of that story? No way, but it remains one of the most fun things I've done.
2. You chose to do this.
Look, at the end of the day no one is forcing you to jump on the NaNoWriMo train. You chose to do this because you want to commit to your craft and to getting the words on the page. That means some uncomfortable times of writing, but this is your decision so own it.
3. The days you struggle will blend in with the days you soared.
Frequently at the end of NaNo, when I read over the messy draft I have in my hands, I can't immediately pull out the moments that were a struggle to write. That sentence that took me an hour to write fades into the 3000 words I wrote in an hour.
4. Treat yourself.
Hit your word goal? It's okay to stop and celebrate that. I have a bad habit of beating myself up for not doing more, even when I do meet my goals. So I have to remind myself it's okay to stop and celebrate.
5. It's more than you had on Oct. 31.
At the end of the day whether you 'win' or 'lose' NaNoWriMo, you still have more words than you did at the end of October. I need to rebuild the habit of writing and Nano is helping me pick those pieces back together for the habit I want to have and the kind of writer I want to be.
So, write on and I'll see you after the next word sprint!