The first day of NaNoWriMo is a whirlwind. Anywhere from months to hours of planning and preparation are finally coming to a head. You can actually write words. Most people are very energetic right out of the NaNo gate, and with good reason. The real question is how to harness this energy and make it work for us. Getting solidly ahead is an important early tactic, because there will, without fail, be a handful of days this month where you simply won’t be able to write your 1,667. Here are a few "musts" to make sure you do on day one to set you up for success the other 29 days!
must #1: don’t stop at 1,667
It is absolutely an achievement to hit your very first wordcount goal! And yes, technically speaking, you only need to write 1,667 a day to finish on time. But it would be silly to not capitalize on your day-one energy and write until you want to curl into a ball and cry. (Well…maybe not that long.)
Day one is a great time to get some friends together and word war. Get some snacks and try to work up your competitive edge. The stronger your lead, the easier the rest of the month will be. I try to make it my goal to hit 5k on the first day.
This also helps you get your solid story concepts down on the page in a big, coherent chunk. Especially for people who don’t have a solid plan up-front for their plot, it is important to wrap your head all the way around your idea as soon as possible.
Of course, getting a good head start can be dangerous if you use it as an excuse to slack off early, so don’t let it make you complacent!
must #2: start forming your writing group
Right now, 30 days feels like a long time. But time flies when you’re having fun (or mindlessly smashing your keyboard in a desperate race for an arbitrary wordcount goal) and before you know it, the month will be half over. If you actually want to have in-person get-togethers with other NaNoers (and I greatly encourage that you do) you need to start setting it up now.
Unless your friends are all supremely organized and awesome, it’s likely that even if you’ve talked about doing a writing group or having writing parties, it won’t happen unless at least one person pushes the idea. Don’t risk the chance that no one else will be that person: You be that person.
The weekend starts tomorrow, and it would be a great weekend to order a pizza and double your wordcount right up front, with your friends and fellow writers at your side.
must #3: make big changes
Some people are lucky and are confident in their concept from day one to day thirty and beyond. But if you’re like me, there’s a chance that during your first week, you will throw up your hands and decide to start over, going in a completely different direction, or that you’ll decide having your main character be Lola the ex-stripper isn’t going to work, and she instead needs to be Violet the dog/human hybrid with a PhD in microbiology.
If, after your first few thousand words, you already think it’s likely that you’ll be making a major change, I encourage you to just bite the bullet and do it now. First of all, if you’re already doubting during the first 10k, which is really the “honeymoon period” of novel writing, then I doubt your situation will improve. Second of all, the longer you wait, the more ground you’re going to have to make up.
If you have to take the plunge, day one is a great day to do it.
What’s your current wordcount? Have any day one goals? Tell me in the comments! And make sure to add me as a writing buddy!