October 30, 2017

last-minute nanowrimo prep

Are you thinking about doing National Novel Writing Month? For those of you who don't know--or those who might need a refresher--it's a program dedicated to writing 50,000 words during the month of November. This will be my eighth consecutive year participating. Hopefully, it will also be my eighth year of winning by meeting that 50,000-word goal.

It's also my third year as a municipal liaison. MLs are local volunteers who organize write-ins and answer questions. As a ML, I feel honor bound to share some last-minute tips for those of you looking to take the challenge.

So, here we go . . .

Do the Prep Work
There may be only a few days left until November 1, but there’s still time to do prep work. Try creating character sketches and a rough outline. Even if you’re comfortable panting (writing from the seat of your pants without an outline) having some prep work done in advance (like those character sketches or a wish list of scenes or components to include in your story).

Make the Time
Look at your calendar and schedule some specific chunks of time to write. They can be 15-minute intervals (also known as sprints) or larger (like several hours). I recommend having a combination of both. I also encourage you to set aside as much time as possible early in the month. That will allow you to build up a solid base word count in case things get a little crazy later in the month. One way you can do this is by waking up an hour earlier. Daylight Savings Time ends November 5, so that’s actually not as tough to do. Use that extra hour to start your day off with some word count.

Use Time-Saving Software
I’m a fan of Scrivener, because of the organizational and plotting elements. But finds hat works for you.

Turn Off Your Inner Editor
November is for writing. You can edit later. Focus only on writing new words rather than going back to revise what you’ve already put down on paper (or screen). That’s not as easy as it sounds. You might try highlighting what you’ve already written and turning the font into white so you can’t see it. Or use a blank document each day. Do whatever it takes to focus on new words.

Use Speedwriting Techniques
Have a goal for how much you want to create each time you sit down. Also, have a good idea of what you’re going to write. Whether or not you have an outline, if you can leave yourself a note of some idea of what you’ll write, you can sit down and start writing. If you’re stuck on dialogue or a scene, move on. Leave yourself a note to come back, but go where the words are calling. You can Google this to see what other writers do for speed writing.

Write in Sprints
Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique? That means setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing completely on a task, like writing. Once the timer goes off, get up and take a short break. You’ll also hear people call this writing sprints. You can choose your length of time. Be sure to eliminate as many distractions as possible. (Hide your phone. Turn off Netflix and the Internet. Tell your cats to take a nap.)

Create the Mood
Find a comfortable place to write at home, your library, coffee shops, wherever you like to go. Make a special playlist you can listen to while you’re writing or in between sessions to keep the story on your mind. Develop some writing rituals that will help you get in the zone. Just putting on headphones helps me get in the mood.

Attend a Write-In
Check with your local region to see if they have any organized writing events. People who participate tend to be most successful with finishing their goals. You can also schedule writing dates with your local writing buddies. It helps to have that support.

The most important thing to do is find what works for you. Do your best and make this a fun experience.

Hope these tips help! If videos are more your thing, you can check out my four-part NaNoWriMo Prep video series. Check them out at Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Happy writing!

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