National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, is soon to be upon us. Before NaNo, I had written at most 37k over three years on one whole project. I had many WIPs but never had I finished a single one. NaNo changed that. On my post about "Binge Writing" you can read more specifics on my history with NaNo, but the purpose of this post is to give you advice that I hope will help you cross the 50k mark!
1. Plan SOMETHING
My first novel was an absolute pantser dream. I had nothing. No plot ideas or characters, only a thought and a desire to write like I was playing a role-playing game such as World of Warcraft or was walking within the open world of the many Elder Scroll games.
To me, this was a canvas for my imagination where anything could and would happen. In hindsight, I still like this idea. But for fast writing, it is not very efficient or organized, at least for me. My strategy now is to write out something. Sometimes, I write out the entire plot beginning to end and other times much less planning goes into it and it consists of a beginning, some gush of plot for the middle, and a brief idea for an ending. Here you can also play with plot twists. (even if you don't understand them yet) Have fun with it!
If you deviate from this plan in small ways or it seems nothing makes sense, just keep writing. That is the point of a first draft. You must flush the story from the primeval birth canal of imagination. Then and only then, can you began the process of carving your novel from that first draft.
2. Do not stop.
I mean this. With the only exception being a misaligned keyboard mistake where your sentence looks like this:
"Kadja ad asdo jinm ad"
NaNo is about getting your draft down, not writing a manuscript worthy to be read. Remember that and free yourself from judgment!
3. Free Writing
This is for those annoying times when your muse takes a break after an overdose of caffeine and takes off walking. Do not allow it to escape! If you are stuck and nothing seems to be going right, your plot has stalled, and you are sure you are the worse writer in the history of bad writers, take a DEEP breath!
Then, pull out a blank sheet of paper to get your mind off the computer screen. (assuming you are not writing your book free hand) If you have to pace a bit or work on your next cup of coffee, that is fine, but at this point just write out as plainly as possible what your next step in the scene is.
Person A talks to Person B to tell them information
Person B Panics and stabs person A
Person B flees the house and is chased by town guards.
Person A is left on floor pondering life
Obviously, that is only a rough example but the idea is to get your creative juices flowing again. This is when I will also advise NOT checking email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and is a moment when deviating from writing can mean a roadblock to that goal of 50,000. Don't let this happen to you, free-write!
4. Keep The Writing Fire Burning
Somewhere I read a quote that for the life of me I cannot find to post here. (Such is life...) The idea is that as a writer your should not write until you cannot think of what to write next but should stop just short of that. This way, when you sit down to write the next day you are itching to get going and you get a running start to hopefully carry you until your goal for the day. This in a way ties in to tip #1 above of planning something ahead of time. You are much less likely to get stuck if you have a general direction you are heading towards!
5. Make A Plot "Grab bag"
So for this I love the corkboard function of Scrivener. (Which has to be the writer god's gift to us writers!) I make this "grab bag" during my plotting stage where I have an idea but lack a good way to incorporate it. This can be as simple as "bloody kitchen" or "Fred the Leper", it doesn't have to make sense, but it may help spur a new plot twist or dig you our of awkward conundrum. (I had a character drop unconscious in my book Winemaker of the North, I did not expect it but thankfully my "grab bag" gave me an answer for it.)
"What a cool plot twist!"
"Thank you, I liked it too and I wasn't expecting it!"
"But you're the writer!"
"Yeah... these characters do their own thing. I just record it."
Good luck to all of you attempting NaNoWriMo 2014! I will be there beside you and I hope some of my tips provide you with a bit of help to assist you in reaching your goal! Feel free to add me as a buddy on the NaNoWriMo website as well! My username is "ziok" and you can find my info here!
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