Today is the first Saturday of NaNoWriMo! To all the other writers and creatives out there, I hope you reach your goal, that you write many words, and that less than 1/2 of those will need to be deleted.
I think today would be a great day to talk about NaNo, and what it means to me. First of all, I’m completely aware that not everything fits everyone, and that for some people NaNo can/is more of a curse than a blessing. That’s mostly the reason why I’m just going to talk about my own thoughts, and I hope that my ideas/advice can help you find your writing way!
Digging Deeper into 10 Common NaNoWriMo Tips & Tricks
1st – Don’t Edit, Just Write
Balanced – On one hand I agree with no editing larger things, such as worrying about how a sentence fits, or thinking if the word choice is correct. I feel that these concerns are best to tackle in the later months of December or January. On the other hand, I believe the advice to ignore the red squiggly line, don’t fix typos, etc. doesn’t help me. I did that my first year, and I’ve not looked back at that manuscript once. There’s too much to edit, and I feel that it would be easier to re-write the entire thing over again.
2nd – Plan for Catch Up Days
Agree – 1, 667 words is the magical number, but if you can write more than that, go for it! This works wonderful because there are some days when life just comes at you (work, home, family, emergencies), etc. and you might not have the time you thought you did. There’s something to look up called “Reverse NaNoWriMo,” and instead of writing going up (1,667 + 1,667 + 1,667, etc.) you write as much as possible first, then do math to figure out how much you need to go forward while ending the last day with only 1 word needed.
3rd – Put Aside Guilt or Shame
Agree – This is a very hard one to do was well – if you miss a day, don’t feel ashamed at missing one, or if you need a break for a day to get your second wind, don’t feel guilty about taking one. You know your body and brain best. Personally, I usually miss some days and have to make them up again (if they weren’t planned for). I used to feel bad about it, but I just labeled them as “Digging Myself Out of the Grave Days,” and imagining myself as a zombie made it better. *thumbs up to any readers – you’ve got this!*
4th – Don’t Wait for Inspiration to Strike, Just Write
Disagree – (Again, these are my personal thoughts). I’ve done NaNo this way before, but when everything was over on December 1st, I wasn’t happy with what I’d written. It was a pile of loosely connected, or not at all connected, word-soup. (And there’s a mental image for you, a pile of soup). Being able to say that x-many words are for my NaNo project is beneficial to my health and happiness, so when I’m not sure where to start for the novel, I’ll interview my characters, or imagine how differently each of them would act in the same situation. That usually helps prime me for writing AND I get to know them better!
5th – Find Your Time
Agree – And many people have pointed out that “find” isn’t the best word choice – “steal” your time. Hunch over it possessively, bare your teeth at anyone that comes in, and lock it up. If you don’t have the time for writing set aside, then November 30th is going to come around and you won’t be near your end goal at all. For me, the two people I live with know November is murder month (and not just in the mystery series I’m trying to write – they knock on the door first, and if I don’t answer, someone better be dying).
6th – Learn
Balanced – When I think of learning, I know there area a lot of books that help people through NaNo, but for me, “needing” to finish a whole TBR shelf before starting to write doesn’t help. What does though is learning what makes me tick. Ending mid-sentence? Nah. Ending with notes saying “start” and “end” so I know where a chapter begins and how it should finish? Priceless. If you’re NaNo isn’t going exactly the way that you wanted it to, then looking at this objectively might help for either later on down the road or next year!
7th – Unplug
Hard Disagree – I use social media and websites to enhance my writing, so there’s no way that I’m going to be unplugging. 4thewords gives me quests to finish and creatures to defeat during NaNo, the NaNoWriMo forums are full of fun people willing to help answer questions (just remember equivalent exchange – for as many as you answer, try to give back too). There’s Fighter’s Block, which is a great way to turn up the heat when writing during a session, word sprints on Twitter, and all sorts of things. Now, that said, social media can be a black hole too. If your phone is the problem, try using Forest. You grow trees the more you focus on your time (and it keeps you from using your phone for unimportant things).
8th – Have Your Plot & Outline Ready!
Balanced – A detailed plot for some people is great. A detailed plot for others can actually make it harder for them to write. I’m one of the latter actually – the only plot I need are the bullet points plot ideas that are needed in the chapter, starting scene, and ending goal. That’s enough that I don’t need to continually check my paper to see where I am, it allows me enough freedom to have fun chasing the details (the opposite for me is true too. If I don’t have a plot at all, then my writing is scrambled and I don’t get what I need out of it.)
9th – Know It’s Not Over December 1st
Disagree – For some people, NaNo is for blogging, making friends, maybe even trying out that genre they always want to write but haven’t thought of a good way to do it. Or maybe they write nonfiction. All of that’s fine. For others it’s about writing 50k or more of a book they want to sell later on down the road. My point is, if you want NaNo to end Dec. 1st, that’s fine. If you don’t, and you want to dive into the editing, the re-writing, the proofreading, etc., then that’s good too. Hopefully you’re doing this for yourself, and the goals that you want to accomplish.
10th – Stay Positive!
Hard Agree! – For any endeavour, project, or journey that you start out on, staying positive is helpful. This is a great time to look around and find new friends too, through FB, twitter, or forums that you go to. Find your writing community, embrace the people that lift you up, and know that you’re among family (and lurkers/introverts are always welcome to be a part of my writing family).
If there’s anything you’d like to add, let me know in the comments, and if you’re doing NaNoWriMo right now, best of writing!