Warning: Hacks for Hacks tips may have harmful side effects on your writing career, and should not be used by minors, adults, writers, poets, scribes, scriveners, journalists, or anybody.
Happy National Novel Writing Month! At this stage of the process, you may feel like you’re sinking in a morass of flat characters and plot holes. This is completely natural. Lucky for you, I’m here to guide you the rest of the way with a daily regimen that will keep you on schedule. This is not a pep talk, but a road map to success, so you can arrive at the promised land of publication when you submit it bright and early on December 2 (after taking time to give it a thorough edit on December 1, of course).[pullquote]Give yourself permission to write poorly in the name of getting words on the page. When you read it later, you just might surprise yourself with how your protagonist exhibits the mannerisms of your cat. [/pullquote]
Day 1: Arise as the cock crows and dash to your computer to begin. You’re full of vim and vigor and fresh ideas. You easily put down 2,000 words, with energy to spare to crow about it on Twitter.
Day 2: Before you do anything else, install Dropbox so you’ll have a backup copy of your novel if your computer ever crashes. Then you get to work. You knock out only 1,500 words, but you’re still at the right pace to finish, or close enough to it.
Day 3: The words are coming more slowly now, which is to be expected. Give yourself permission to write poorly in the name of getting words on the page. When you read it later, you just might surprise yourself with how your protagonist exhibits the mannerisms of your cat. Word count: 1,100.
Day 10: Coffee and soda and candy and cookies and whee! Word count: 3,200
Day 11: Beer and whiskey and potato chips and cigarettes and uuunnnggghhh. Nineteen words.
Day 14: Your blood is now twenty percent espresso. The pizza guy visits your house more frequently than the mailman. You’re sleeping five hours a night. These measures feel extreme, but the extra free time will seriously boost your output, right? Word count: 800 words.[pullquote]The Acknowledgements section totally counts toward your total.[/pullquote]
Day 16: Your word glands have atrophied. Your prose output is down to a trickle. You only managed 600 words of absolute dreck. You deleted it, looking around wild-eyed, afraid someone might have seen the gibberish you’d written. You curse yourself for wasting words and try to write them again. Upon further review, they’re worse than you’d thought. Word count: [redacted].
Day 17: Hard drive crash. Your novel is gone. Gone! Welp, technology, amirite? You may as well give up, maybe call your friends, go catch a movie or…oh, wait, you installed Dropbox, didn’t you? Your book is alive and well in the cloud, waiting for you to pay your daily tribute. You have no reason to quit now. And that’s great, isn’t it? Yes, just fine and dandy. You sigh and delete the Google Calendar invite for your impromptu house party. Two-thousand words, in which your protagonist is recaptured after escaping a prison colony.
Day 18: New computer! Give yourself permission to install a bunch of new software and trick out your office for the next six hours. Word count: “This new machine loads web pages really fast!”
Day 19: The Acknowledgements section totally counts toward your total. Word count: 1,800 words of brown-nosing and name-dropping.
Day 21: All work and no play and too much research and inadequate sleep and abundant caffeine and myriad alcohol and partial hangover and no ibuprofen make your spouse and the kids stay with Grandpa and Grandma for the weekend. Word count: 2,200.
Day 25: So very cold. Word count: -16.
Day 27: Get ideas for some realistic-sounding dialog by secretly recording Thanksgiving dinner. You’re in a race to the finish, so you can’t afford a turkey coma. Instead of a big meal, maybe consider a bowl of oatmeal instead. Word count: 3,800 words about hunger and yearning.
Day 28: You sleep at your desk now. Your willpower to do anything but type has shriveled like the month-old jack-o-lantern rotting on your front porch. You’re subsisting on flour eaten straight from the bag. “drink urine safely” is now in your Google search history. Word count: 3,100*.
*Some of these may or may not be actual words.
Day 29: You can do this. 8,000 words over the next two days. It’s time to open the valve to your subconscious and give yourself permission to let things get weird. A thinly veiled assassination of your boss in a garbage compactor? Love scene between Dracula, the unicorn, and the centaur? NaNoWriMo is a judgment-free zone, meaning the world will suspend criticism of your work all through November and not a minute longer. Be ready with that delete button on December 1, you sick freak. Word count: 3,900, followed by a shower.
Day 30: Fourteen minutes till midnight, you type the two most beautiful words in the English language, and fourth-most beautiful in Portuguese: “The End.” You hit the keys hard, as if you were trying to inflict pain on your novel. Final word count: 50,083, many of which quote heavily from public domain works and the Declaration of Independence.
When you wake up tomorrow, you’ll do so as a novelist. And just think, now that you’re a capital-W Writer, you can make this your new daily routine! Enjoy!
What’s your roadmap to NaNoWriMo success. Let us know in the comments!