NaNoWriMo is once more upon us and the excitement is building. Here are a few of the best tips I’ve picked up from taking part to help you prepare to crush that 50k word target.
There’s still time. Even a rough chapter plan will help you out. Moments of idleness must be avoided when you have so many words to clock up. That’s where a plan can help. When your mind inevitably goes blank you can turn to your plan to set you on the right course.
Set yourself up for success
Linked to planning, this tip is more to do with the environment you write in. Consider investing in a white board or sticky notes. A whiteboard is a great way to track your progress and give you structure. With sticky notes, you can jot down any ideas, such as plot twists or character names, as you go along, and when you need to call on such information it’s close to hand.
Get to know your characters
Over the next week consider spending time figuring out everything about your characters. Life, you’ll find, will be much easier when it comes to writing. You’ll know how they’ll react in certain situations, what kind of language they use, how they think and feel. All of these things will aid your flow and will minimise your stoppages.
Build your world
If you’re writing SFF in which new worlds feature, from experience I know pondering the likes of names or places or how they look can halt your flow. If you can prepare a rough map beforehand you’ll save time thinking when you could be typing.
Practice switching off the editor in you
It’s easy to pile pressure onto your shoulders by scolding yourself over the quality of your writing, beating yourself up for using cliché ideas or writing irrelevant scenes. That’s the editor in you talking. Imagine a switch in your mind and turn it off.
Take recent Nobel prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro. He wrote his masterpiece The Remains of the Day in four weeks! He went on something he coined a Crash, writing from 9am until 10:30pm Monday to Saturday. He had a couple of breaks during the day, but in the main, he locked himself in a room and worked.
“I wrote free-hand, not caring about the style or if something I wrote in the afternoon contradicted something I’d established in the story that morning. The priority was simply to get the ideas surfacing and growing. Awful sentences, hideous dialogue, scenes that went nowhere – I let them remain and ploughed on.”
Make some buddies and line up a few events
Check the NaNo web page and forums for events and ways to get involved with the writing community. Keep an eye on your region too as some events may be organised around you. Your fellow writers can be really inspiring, so on days when you find yourself waning, take a break and chat with others. Facebook groups are a great way to link up with fellow writers. Check out ‘Fantasy Writers Support Group‘ for one. r/Fantasy is another great way to link up with fellow writers.
Take the fight to procrastination
If you know you’re partial to browsing through shite on the web or flicking through your smartphone, take steps beforehand to remove any temptation. You can check out my post on defeating procrastination here.
Invest in a USB stick, you should
There’s nothing more soul destroying than losing thousands of typed words. If you haven’t already got one, consider investing in a USB stick. At the end of every writing shift you can drag and drop and your doc is safe and secure. Not only that, you can plug into any computer and clock up more words, giving you the flexibility to work anywhere! If you want to back-up your work but don’t have a USB stick, you can always email your docs to yourself.
Practice taking it one word at a time
If productivity is your weakness, suddenly having to write 2,000 odd words in a day will feel like having to single-handedly stop an alien invasion (if only we were all Master Chief). Forget that target. It adds unnecessary pressure, pressure that’ll steal the enjoyment out of your craft. Cover up that word counter at the bottom of your screen. Zone into your story and try and tap into that elusive flow.
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