Well, we’re now three days into NaNoWriMo, and if we’re keeping on schedule we should be somewhere in the vicinity of 5,000 words by midnight tonight. Whether you’re on track, a little behind, or way, way ahead already (you know who you are)–you should soundly congratulate yourself. This is a crazy venture, writing 50,000 words in thirty days, and we know, of course, the best people are always a little crazy.
If you’re like me and you flounder around in these early days trying to find motivation, trying to figure out where your plot should go, or worrying about whether it’s good enough (I know that shouldn’t be a concern during NaNo, but that doesn’t stop me worrying)–Hemingway has some helpful advice for us.
The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. …Don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day.
That’s especially important advice for me to remember, because usually when I shut the notebook or close down the laptop each night, my mind is still abuzz with writing thoughts, trying to mentally plug plot holes, replaying characters’ dialogue in my head. It’s exhausting–and it means I’m usually sick of my story at the end of the first week.
But if I stop when the words are still flowing easily and my writing is confident, take my mind off it for a few hours and focus on something else–I find I’m much more prepared to start again with enthusiasm the next day. I know exactly where I’m going to begin; I’m not staring at a blank screen for an hour trying to figure it out.
It’s a refreshing approach, and it’s all the more important during NaNoWriMo, because spending thirty days non-stop in the world of your novel can very rapidly move you from that good kind of crazy to a not-so-good kind of crazy. Stop when the words are still pouring furiously out, not when they’ve died to a trickle and you’re tired, frustrated, and depressed. It seems counter-intuitive, but it will do a lot for your novel and your sanity in the long run.