NaNoWriMo – Eating an Elephant One Bite at a Time (or whatever)


NaNoWriMo week one – done.  You made it!  You survived your first week of writing and plotting and pulling your hair out and your story is on its way to being great.  Now, to tell the truth, it only gets harder from here on out.  From my experience, the first week is the easiest.  You’ve just started, you’re excited about your story, you’re excited about NaNoWriMo, and you have all this energy to pour into your book.  Week two is a little different.  For me it’s when the doubt starts to creep in and the frustration and the laziness.  I can already feel it coming on.  But don’t let that get to you!  Here are a few tips to beat the rest of this month – or, better yet, conquer it!

Have you ever heard the expression, “The only way to eat an elephant is by eating is one bite at a time.”?  (If not that’s okay, the first time I heard it I thought it was the weirdest thing I’d ever heard)  But basically, try to look at your novel not as a whole, but one day at a time.

As you’ve probably already noticed, NaNoWriMo is a huge creative-packed whirlwind roller coaster where you don’t have any time to do anything but think about your book.  It’s obsessive.  So use that obsessive energy to channel your writing juices.  Do anything you can to get your mind glued to your novel as much of the time as possible.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I use things like Pinterest, playlists, and even set backgrounds on my phone and computer to my book’s cover, or things that will inspire me about the story.

Now, I know that creativity and inspiration are elusive little brats, so there are going to be times when sitting around trying to get the story in your head and waiting for motivation to strike just isn’t going to happen.  And don’t despair and give up, because it happens to the greatest of writers.  Here’s where you toughen up, look at everything critically and say to yourself, “You can do it.”  Say it out loud.  I’m serious.  Stare at the screen, close your eyes, or go look yourself in the mirror, and tell yourself you can do it.  Because hearing it with your ears makes it more real.  Think back on all the previous days you’ve survived (or suffered) through this past month.  About ten days, maybe?  And remind yourself that you made it this far, so you can keep going.  You survived each day of writing almost 2,000 words and here you are to do it again.  If you had the stamina to do it ten times before, you can get through this month – just remind yourself.

And remember that NaNoWriMo is great is that it breaks down the novel for you.  It tells you how many words you have to write a day to get to the finish line on time.  So don’t look at that ominous “50,000 word” goal on the screen, sigh in devastation, and claim you can’t do it.  Don’t think that thirty days isn’t nearly enough time to write a novel.  Look at that 1,667 words you have to write today, and don’t think any farther than that.  One day at a time.  One bite at a time.  And before you know it, you’ll be done with the whole elephant.

Good luck with your NaNo novel!

~ Pauline

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