How NOT to succeed at NaNo 2019

I love November. It's a brilliant month*. There is something very special about the cold dark mornings and the cold, dark evenings. And cold, dark weekends. I love 'em.

Temperature and light levels aside, November is also the month of NaNoWriMo. I am an expert at failing NaNo - I've been doing it unsuccesfully for years. With that in mind allow me to present you with my top 5 ways to FAIL at NaNoWriMo this year!

One - Don't plan anything in advance!

NaNo means writing about 1700 words each day for a month. If you want to make life harder for yourself look no further than a lack of preparation. There is nothing easier than throwing down 1700 coherent words off the top of your head, consistenly whilst under time pressure.

Character background? No.
Basic three act structure story arc? Avoid.
Key plotpoints? Don't bother.
Chapter by chapter summaries? For losers.

Also, make sure you use a revolutionary approach to story structure. Avoid anything that's tried and tested. Getting 50k words down in a month is 100% the time to throw out 300 years of accumalated knowledge about writing novels and create something completely original. It totally is.

Two - Leave your writing until last thing at night!

Night owls are the coolest, right? Writing after everyone is asleep is the edgy. It's dark - literally. Especially after a hard day at work /school / being the primary carer. It's not like your willpower will be completely sapped by that point in the day making it far more likely that you'll sack the whole thing off and retreat to the womb-like warmth of the soft duvet in your bedroom. Some might suggest splitting your writing up across the day or nailing the words down early. If you're interested in making things hard - do not listen to them!

Three - Be a perfectionist!

You know Joseph Heller spent five years writing Catch-22? Perfectionism works people. Agonize over every word. Strain over the position of each and every comma. Don't accept the rough and ready. Unsure about some grammar or word usage? Then research the hell out of it. For hours. Don't smash it onto the page and say to yourself, 'I can always edit and polish later'. I mean, sure, you could do that. Lots of people do in fact. But you have to ask yourself - did Joseph Heller do that? No he did not. He made every word a-g-o-n-i-s-i-n-g...and you could too.

Four - Constantly compare yourself to the fastest writers out there!

Some folks can burn through 50k words like a hot Bat'leth through a warm Ferengi. They'll be hitting 10k after day one and that's just the start. Whole thing done by day eight? You betcha! These are the people you should hold yourself to. I don't want to hear any bitching about your "full time job", "nights-shifts", "children to look after" or any of that other snowflake stuff. You are who you surround yourself with. Mind over matter. You can make extra hours in the day. Margaret Thatcher slept only four hours a night and so can you - and look at how sane she was!

NaNo has a warm, friendly community of helpful people who will support you when the going gets tough. They help you stick it out, word by word, until the finish line. Ignore them. Align yourself with only the fastest. The best. Because it's speed that counts, right?

Five - Stay as visible as possible on social media!

NaNo would be nothing without social media. So it stands to reason that you should be on social media as often as you can during NaNoWriMo. The addictive cycle of dopamine-inducing click-and-reward that social media companies have carefully constructed will help you think about writing and NaNo for hours. Hours and hours and hours of posts and hashtags and memes and desk-selfies and tag games and critiquing others' work - well it all has to help your hit your word count doesn't it? It stands to reason. Frankly, if you're the sort of person who just puts your phone in the other room, switches off the wifi on your computer and bashes through a few hundred words in an uninterrupted period of concentration, well, that's just rude. Social media is a productivity device after all.

So, there it is. I've been failing since 2010 (or was it 2009) so I feel I know a thing or two about it. If you want to fail at NaNo this year - you know what to do. Boom.


*I am aware I said something very similar about August not long ago. Well, in August in fact.


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