Nothing says “Thanksgiving” like zombies. Or maybe that’s Easter. Anyway, a week ago, I was taking Andrea Judy and this happened: I’m not sure how/why the conversation started, but as NaNoWriMo winds down, I think this Zombieland/writing simile is pretty accurate and applicable to all writing. So, I present to you (with gifs!)…
Rule No. 1: Cardio
Writing is tough sometimes! Know what helps? Word sprints. It’s like brain cardio. Find some Twitter friends or MSN buddies and challenge each other to a sprint, whether it’s 1k in 1 hour or just to see how many words you can toss out in 15 minutes.
Rule No. 2: Double Tap
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. It’s a first draft. Kill characters. Fuck shit up. Make an endless trail of misery and sorrow for you MC to fight his/her way out of it. You’re not killing zombies (unless you are), but the double tap is no less effective.
Rule No. 3: Beware of Bathrooms
It’s really just a sanitation thing. But you know what? When you need to pee in the middle of getting down those words, SAVE YOUR DOCUMENT! That guy in the photo? He didn’t save. Lost everything. Poor schmuck. Don’t let them catch you with your pants down.
Rule No. 4: Seatbelts
Another strange rule, but when you’re undertaking something as crazy as writing 50k in 30 days, you need to strap in. Real life gets in the way. Unexpected things happen. You may not write 1,667 words every day. But you only “lose” when you give up. Don’t beat yourself up over missed goals. Get back in there and come out swinging. Buckle up, Buttercup.
Rule No. 7: Travel Light
Mentally and physically. You don’t need HOW TO books on writing. You just do it. Remember, it’s a first draft, which means by nature it’s going to suck. Don’t get bogged down by every detail. Your MC’s eyes are green one chapter and purple the next? Whatever! Roll with it. That shit can wait for revisions. Tell your inner critic to shove it.
Rule No. 17:
Don’t Be a Hero Be a hero. Be a villain. Be an exhausted writer trying to bash out 50k in a month. Do what you need to. Need to take a break? Do it. Need to write a heart-wrenching scene that will cause your readers abject pain and suffering? Rock on. This rule open to interpretation.
Rule No. 18: Limber Up Have some sort of game plan. I’m not saying you need a full outline with plots, subplots… other littler numbers and letters, but you need to know where the story is going. I title blank documents with scene names or chapter points. I don’t write in order, so this helps keep me focused.
Rule No. 22: When in Doubt, Know Your Way Out Written yourself into a corner? Have an escape plan! Start another chapter. Kill off a character. Back up and see if you can’t redirect the scene. Out of options? Delete your chapter. Go on, push the bar on the door. The alarm won’t go off. Promise.
Rule No. 31: Check the Back Seat Driving forward and getting stuck? Start driving backward. Figure out how to change what’s tripping you up or think of what you can add. If you’re like me, driving backward will give you a new road to reach your goal. When I can’t move forward, I start on the ending and work my way back.
Rule Number 32: Enjoy the Little Things
Even if you don’t “win” NaNoWriMo (and I sure as hell know I won’t), enjoy your accomplishments! Maybe you wrote 40k, or 20k, or 10k, or finally started working on that idea that’s been bouncing around in your head for a year. You did SOMETHING. You’re writing a book, and that’s just awesome. Because let’s face it, every month is Novel Writing Month, so nut up or shut up. Follow THE RULES and you’ll knock it out.
Just remember, fellow writers, get a kick ass partner to cheer you on and know you’re never alone. Unless the world really is a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested hell.