So, I’ve cracked the secret to winning NaNoWriMo.
Step one, invoke pagan deities, specifically the muses. I can’t guarantee results if you pray to other gods.
Step two, write an outline that doesn’t cover the first scene of your novel, so you still end up staring at a blank page for hours trying to figure out where to start. While you’re writing that outline, make sure that it’ll only last you for ten or twenty thousand words.
In step three, your cunning planning back in step two comes back into play, as you stare helplessly into the void that is your first page. So far, so good!
In step four, you go to a write-in to build up a good head of steam right at the beginning.
In step five, you squander that steam and spend the whole day playing Hornet Leader instead. I think other solitaire board games work, too, but video games don’t seem to do the trick. In fact, I’m getting ahead of myself a little here, but some games actually seem to produce more words, which isn’t going to help at all in the squandering phase of the month.
Step six is to spend a full day doing almost nothing but writing a new outline because you ran out of the old one. So, advance planning is again critical.
Now that you’re way behind, step seven is to attend a family member’s funeral in order to lag even further. You may have to arrange an accident for someone if nobody dies of natural causes – that wasn’t an issue for me this year.
You wanna follow the same basic theme over the next few days. Maybe write something completely unrelated to your actual project, or recycle the outline issues you faced earlier, or if you’re really out of ideas for ways to fall behind, just write no words the whole day for no reason at all. That last one might feel like cheating for the “floundering and falling behind” portion of the plan, but it’s not against the rules, so go for it.
On step nine, let go of your feelings and start writing random junk you can’t possibly publish because fuck it, words are words.
Now that you’re way the Hell behind, take the opportunity to reflect on your writing style, how you best work as a writer, and how squeezing the planning stages of a 50,000 word novel into two days because you decided to do NaNo at the last second was really dumb, and is also making you look kind of ridiculous for earlier saying that outline writers had an inherent advantage in the challenge.
Going into the home stretch, use up your final outline to get yourself back on target and with so little time left to spare that you can’t safely sink another day into outlining, then try to go back to your roots and write some absurd fantasy comedy like you did in high school. Realize quickly that you are a completely different and far less light-hearted person.
Right before you enter into your very home stretch, wrest superpowers from the unforgiving maw of Cuphead and use them to finish a day ahead of schedule. I think Dark Souls will also work for these purposes.
Now all that’s left to do is to write a dumb, sarcastic blog post that sounded like a good idea at the start but probably would’ve been better off as a more sincere recap of the month rather than a lame “fake advice” gag that overstays its welcome by like eight paragraphs. But look, the point here wasn’t to write good words, it was to overcome winter blues so strong they may actually be diagnosable by punching a keyboard until 50,000 words come out.
So. Got that all squared away.