Like Arnold, I want to pump YOU up

It’s the first day of National Novel Writing Month. Has the panic started to sink in yet? If the sheer volume of words — 1667 a day — isn’t enough to scare you, probably the self-doubt over the worth of your manuscript is. I’m here to set your mind at ease on both counts.

First of all, while 1667 words is a lot to take on every day, it is doable. Before you tell me all your excuses, about how busy you are at work, about your full home life, and your other responsibilities, let me tell you that I understand completely. I am a mom of four, I work full-time as a real estate agent and also work for clients as a freelance writer and editor. I volunteer in my community, I write blogs for my own websites, and I still manage to have time to watch my favourite TV shows, go to the gym and veg out on the weekends. It can be done — you just have to make time for the things that are important to you.

I usually shoot for 2000 words a day to give myself a buffer for those days when I simply don’t get a chance to sit down and write. I set aside an hour or two in the evening after the kids are in bed, and 45 minutes right after I get the kids off the bus and right before I need to start cooking supper. They’ve just gotten home from school, they are full of energy, and they just want to go play. So I let them, and I get down to the business of writing.

Then, once a week, I try to schedule time for a word sprint, pumping out 5000-6000 words in one afternoon or evening. This usually works best on the weekend after the kids are in bed and I can stay up a bit later since there’s no specific time I need to wake up tomorrow. Even if the kids wake me up early, I know I might be able to squeeze in a nap later if they let me, and if they don’t, well — that’s NaNoWriMo!

Remember to rely on your support system whenever possible. If you have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other people in your life who like to spend time with your kids, maybe they will give you an afternoon off on the weekend to write. Or if you have a significant other, perhaps they’ll help you sneak in an hour for a power nap after a late night writing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Keep your eye on the goal and use your “phone a friend” to overcome those obstacles along the way.

Secondly, let’s address that crippling self-doubt.

Let me just state the obvious: no one is going to see what you wrote during NaNoWriMo. When you upload your words at the end of the month to verify the wordcount, that doesn’t get posted or stored anywhere. It’s up to you if you want to share what you’ve written with anyone. Unless you’re extremely brave, and perhaps a little stupid, you’re not going to be sending this manuscript directly to an agent or a publisher.

You have time to edit this when the month is over. You can keep the momentum of NaNoWriMo going into December with reviewing your manuscript and making it better. If you totally pantsed November, then I encourage you to outline your novel before your second draft. Make a list of the scenes you wrote during NaNoWriMo in your first draft, put them in some logical order (not necessarily chronological), then make a list of the scenes you need to add to make it flow. Make sure to read your entire first draft from beginning to end, as terrible as it may be, before you start making crucial decisions about what to cut and what to add. You need to see the big picture before you start to micromanage.

Don’t worry. You got this.

If you’re feeling a little deflated, reach out to me and I’ll do my best to pump you up. You can friend me on Facebook or email me at jessicatrudel13@gmail.com. As a Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month I’m committed to helping people in my region achieve their goals this month.

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Jessica Trudel

Jessica Trudel has been a freelance writer and editor for over a decade. She is an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness, and a supporter of the arts in Northern Ontario.

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