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Last week, I shared my Five Do’s for winning Nano. And with Friday’s start date a few days away, let's quickly examine some Don’ts before returning to our outlining and research.
Because that's exactly what I've been doing lately...
1. Don’t focus on the word count.
I know. It’s ridiculous to suggest you not think about the 50,000 words you need to lay down by November 30th. But when you sit down to write each day, focusing on how many words you have to go is the easiest, fastest way to cripple your progress and short-circuit your creativity. So though it might be tempting, do yourself a favor—don’t do that.
And by the same token…
I learned this trick from a Nano contributor in 2011—if you write something you’re not going to use, use the Strikethrough font option in your word processing program to draw a line through it. This way, your word count doesn’t suffer. And who knows? You might find a use for that crazy segue in another story.
That reminds me…
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3. Don’t question the crazy.
Look, this is Nano—a no-holds-barred, anything-goes writer’s boot camp which will stimulate your brain in ways than you never imagined. And that might lead to some zany, outlandish plot bunnies. Don’t question them—keep them. No, you never intended for your protagonist’s Nana to have a dark criminal past, but if the idea hits you, run with it. Run with it until it runs out of steam. You never know where that thread might lead.
And speaking of running with it…
4. Don’t end your writing day with a period.
This is not new writing advice, but it bears repeating especially now. As you near the end of the day’s work, stop in the middle of a sentence where you know what comes next. You’ll begin the next day’s writing time with a clear idea of where to begin, making achieving that day’s goal much easier to accomplish.
Last but not least…
5. Don’t lose sight of your goal.
Yes, 50,000 words is the main goal of Nano. But what is your personal goal, one distinct from the word count? Is it developing the practice of writing every day for a month? Is it bringing your story to a certain point in the plot? Is it indulging some whimsical, unusual story idea you’d never have the courage to explore otherwise? Whatever the goal, don’t forget it as you press forward. It will encourage and stimulate you in ways the 50,000-word could cannot, and you will be a stronger writer for it.
So those are my Nano Don’ts. Do you have any to add to the list? Any final thoughts as Friday approaches? I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading and best of luck to all my fellow participants this year.
See you at the finish line!
(And before. Here. Next weekend.)