NaNoWriMo: Coping with Defeat

Five more days. NaNoWriMo is about done, and yep, you’re still more than 10,000 words short? Tried writing during the turkey cooking, and both ended up in flames?

Great news! You’re done for, and it’s about time you celebrate!

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Writing A. Wrong:

Pretend its the beginning of the month. What do I tell myself since I didnt make 50,000 this year for NaNo.
—Caryn Lefevers, Dothan, Ala. 

(Note: NaNoWriMo is short for Narcissistic Nonsense Writing Motivation or something like that. Simple premise: write a “novel” of fifty-thousand words within the month of November. The prize? Fifty-thousand dollars. In the competition’s 197-year history, only five writers have claimed the prize.)

Since it’s the beginning of the month, here’s how you should plan when you come short of the goal. Planning the coping ahead of time — it helps.

—Use the material for writing your Christmas cards.

—Solicit some readership and see what kick they get from the “truncated ending.”

—Your unfinished NaNoWriMo opus: free wrapping paper.

—Shred and re-arrange: three month’s worth of beat poetry reading.

—Long-form status updates.

—Many, many, many Tweets.

—Condense into a short story.

—Condense again into a haiku.

Those cute little fridge magnets that you can shape into Dadaist interpretations of failed NaNoWriMo novels.

—Black hat SEO for your blog.

—Platonic sexting.

—Messages in bottles.

—Make an ePub and read it on your “Incomplete Works of Me” eReader.

—Print “NaNoWriMo Winner 2012” shirts, send to Africa.

—Start some cheesy “one line at a time” contest to see your story to completion.

—Send the last paragraph to WritingAllWrong@me.com to see what’s recommended for continuation, should you choose to continue.

—Print your work and use the pages to light yourself on fire.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

NaNoWriMo: Just Quit Already!

Congratulations! You’re 19/30ths of the way through #NaNoWriMo, probably finished already, or you’ve given up, and you’re trying to spend this Thanksgiving week *off of work* justifying your existence as an “aspiring” author.

Of those who are 19/30ths of the way through, 29/30ths were likely quite eager about the whole endeavor, but only 7/30ths are feeling the same way at this point.

For the remaining 23/30ths of you: Make the call. Cut your losses. Quit with dignity.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Dear Writing All Wrong,

How would you suggest finishing my #NaNoWriMo novel, when I’m halfway through the month, but not even a quarter of the way through the novel? Is there some kind of trick for taking ten thousand words and stretching them out to fifty by month’s end? Thanks.
—Jayson Ponds, Fleming, N. Y. 

(Note: NaNoWriMo is short for Narcissistic Nonsense Writing Motivation or something like that. Simple premise: write a “novel” of fifty-thousand words within the month of November. The prize? Fifty-thousand dollars. In the competition’s 197-year history, only five writers have claimed the prize.)

Nope, there’s no trick.

Unless you’re looking to extinguish your sleeping nights and days for the next two weeks, sacrificing your Thanksgiving week off for a futile goal, miring though spiteful word-slog you’ll be regretting as you wrote and forgetting within hours, then call it.

Quit.

You know that saying, “Don’t quit while you’re ahead?” There’s an oft-ignored corollary: “Do quit while you’re behind.”

Quit.

As long as there are Novembers, there are #NaNoWriMos. You might need to lick  your wounds, then lick them some more, lapping up the seeping blood, burning its taste into your mouth.

Quit.

Winners aren’t winners because they “never gave up.” No, they won. Losers are persistent. That will do. You’ll need it for when you learn to win. Then you win more.

Quit.

But quit with a lesson learned. A purpose for the next round. Competing just because your cadre of writing cheerleaders spurred you on? Contesting to prove your “credentials” as a writer? Chasing a thrill that turned into more chase than thrill? Challenging for the sake of fitting in and crowdsurfing along an imagined wave of significance?

Quit.

Be a fighter second, a writer first. You can win #NaNoWriMo every year, and still rate a lousy writer, never having churned anything more significant than what will be chummed to the sharks of time. You’d rather be 49,999 words short of winning NaNo, while penning only what will sharpen your mind, engage your reader, and spur your own self on to polish your craft.

Quit.

Quit being the poseur you never wanted to be. Quit chomping at the tails and entrails of contests and retreating goals. Quit burning to burn, writing for no other purpose other than to write, driving yourself into a cyclic hole. Quit shooting for goals of numbers over goals of artistry, aesthetics. Quit letting the false ideal of quantity be your success, and the lack of wordcount your failure.

Quit.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

Helpful NaNoWriMo Tips – from our readers

Last year, Writing All Wrong was the one to give, offering helpful primers on NaNoWriMo. You can read them here.

This year, we’re taking a different angle, a venue to “give back.” Seems as if readers have been more eager to offer their advice, their closely-guarded secrets, their winning tips to this thing we call NaNoWriMo. Since you’ve offered, I will be more than happy to post your helpful hints and reap the bountiful credit.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

(Note: NaNoWriMo is short for Narcissistic Nonsense Writing Motivation or something like that. Simple premise: write a “novel” of fifty-thousand words within the month of November. The prize? Fifty-thousand dollars. In the competition’s 197-year history, only five writers have claimed the prize.)

I have a great tip for #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month); I made a Twitter for one of the characters in my #WIP (work in progress). Since I work a cake job that lets me Tweet at work, but not one that let’s me do as much writing :(, I then go back and add some of those thoughts to my manuscript. Cool huh?
—Bridgette Malkmus, Summerville, S.C.

Wow, I’m so sorry your job isn’t cake enough to let you write at work, like everyone else’s is. I admire your resourcefulness, though!

Last year, I came within a hundred words of winning NaNoWriMo. This year, I plan to win by writing just three extra words a day: IT WILL HAPPEN. That’s also the title of my book to, so it makes sense. 
—Charles D. Rasper, Norman, Okla. 

That’s going to leave you about ten words short. That will happen.

Can’t. I’ll. We’re. Y’all. It might make more sense to make dialogue sound natural with contractions, but I give myself a better chance of meeting my goal by breaking those contractions a part. It is much easier, and it does not take a way from the story.
—Soren Sjostrom, Sheridan, Wyo.

Nice work in taking this to the next level, by breaking apart “apart” and “away.” That is awe some.

For me, it’s all a matter of organizing my time. That’s the only currency that’s non-negotiable. You might have 30 days to write, but with so many other things taking that time away, I’m buying it back this year. For starters, I’m taking three days off of work. I’m also having a sitter watch the kids every Friday night. And to shave time off of having to cook, we’re ordering out every Saturday and Sunday and maybe a few days a week between. Hoping it works for me this time!
—Donna Milligan, Ft. Worth.

Three vacation days ($55 per hour [at least] x 3 days) = $1,320
Sitter ($25 x 5 Fridays) = $125
Ordering out ($40 x 10 days) = $400
Grand total = $1,845

Now there’s a negotiable currency: currency.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

NaNoWriMo 101 – Writing Plans

November.

Depending on where you live, autumn’s in full swing, or it’s already murdered by winter. Depending on where you live, Thanksgiving. Not shaving. Black Friday. Day of the Dead. No more baseball. Guy Fawkes. Native American. Leonids meteors. No more pink NFL gear. Lava fest. Beluga caviar smuggling. Taco Pizza Day. Week of walking on your hands. Anti-hiccup awareness.

November to writers: NaNoWriMo. I needn’t say more.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

What’s your plan for NaNoWriMo? Because I want to know how you plan to finish. I wish I could say I’ve gotten to 50,000 words, but I haven’t. The closest I got was 32,809. Is there a sure fire way to reach that hallowed mark of 50k? 

—Brandy Ferris, Kent Acres, Del.

(Note: NaNoWriMo is short for Narcissistic Nonsense Writing Motivation or something like that. Simple premise: write a “novel” of fifty-thousand words within the month of November. The prize? Fifty-thousand dollars. In the competition’s 196-year history, only three have claimed the prize.)

Most important thing about a competition of words: numbers. 50,000 is a big African elephant to swallow. Most choke on the trunk right away, but even if you successfully engorge that much, you’re still not going to cram down the elephant’s head, tusks, and feet. Come now, everyone knows you can’t eat an elephant in a day all by yourself. Even if you chop it to eat over the month, you realize, “Wait, I’ve got ears for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and this hindquarters is way too much for the week. It’s gonna go bad before I can finish it. Better bring the neighbors over…”

Yeah. Reduce it all you want, but you’re still not planning. You can win that $50,000 if you have a concrete plan.

By the numbers:

November: 30 days. Requirement: 50,000 words. Words per day: 1,666.66 (need 2/3 of a word there).

Easy? If it were easy, then everyone would win. At this point in the blog, I’ve only got 363 words. Only 22% of goal, and I’ve been writing for hours.

By the plans:

The People’s Daily — 1,666ish words per day, every day, without fail. Rain, shine, beetles, brine.

Recommended if you’re single, unemployed, insomniac, or live the same kind of boring life day in and out. It’s the most straightforward, but I hope you’re cozy with monotony, because this plan is like superannuated mice. Really old, really quick.

The Weekend Wartortle — 5000 words per Saturday/Sunday, and 455 words per weekday.

Recommended for those who, like everyone in the known universe, work a Monday-Friday, 8 to 5. Minor quota for the day, with generous allowances for the weekend. Keeps you sharp, lets you avalanche on your days off.

The Weekend Warhalla — 6,250 words per weekend day. No weekdays.

Recommended for sissies who think they’re too busy during the week. Enjoy eating one-fourth of the elephant each weekend.

The Weekend Liberator — 2,273 words per weekday. No weekends.

Recommended for those who will go insane during the week to regain sanity during the weekend.

The Stay-at-Home Mom Who One Day Wants to Write a Novel — 1,000 words per weekday, and 7,000 words per one weekend day.

Recommended for, well, stay-at-home moms. You can squeeze 1,000 words in between naptimes, feedings, and when the tots are glued to Croelius and the Barnyard Gang DVDs. And when your spouse comes home, even better, as he can watch the kids while you finish off the quota. He’ll sign on, of course, since you’re not “writing all the time” with your one weekend day break. That gives him the liberty to wash the car, ride motorcycles with his buds, and do all that “guy stuff” you hate guys doing. But hey, you’ll be finishing a novel. 

The Prime Number — 1,667 words per day.

Recommended for math geeks who have to write a prime number of words per day. Convenient.

The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — 1,000 words (and change) when in your right mind, 666 when you’ve undergone a hideous transformation.

Recommended for lycanthropes, sufferers of personality shift, menacing dissociative disorders, and other folks with terrorizing transformative tendencies.

The Micromanager — 140 words per hour, for twelve hours per day.

Recommended for people who really have to break it down into digestible chunks. 140 words per hour? That’s like a really big tweet every hour, on the hour. Trade in your mindless tweets every minute for mindless writing every 60 minutes, and you’ll be a winner in no time. Well, in 30 days no time.

The Procrastinatorsaurus Rex — 12,500 words for the last weekend in November, followed by about 8,334 words for the last three days in November.

Recommended for people who don’t get around to doing this until Thanksgiving weekend.

The Daily Double — Write one word on November 1st, then write double that (2 words) for the next day, then double the previous day’s amount (write 4 words) the next day, then 8 words the next day, then 16 words, then 32, and so on.

Recommended for people who don’t understand the concept of compound interest or a geometric series. But the bonus here is that while you’ll have over 17,000+ words to go on November 15th, you’ll be 15,000+ words over the goal on November 16th. Oh yeah. Math works miracles for writing.

What’s your plan?

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com), followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and probed for more NaNoWriMo nectar during the month.