Write well. Write often. Edit wisely.
NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, begins November 1. We’ve already considered a few tips for NaNo prep, but I’ve got more for you, suggestions that should help you to be ready to write on day 1.
• Sign up at NaNoWriMo.org—you don’t have to wait until November
• Commit to at least try NaNo—for accountability, tell one or two people that you’re doing it
• Make a few encouraging notes to hang in your writing space or to attach to your computer and/or notebooks—make them dramatic or humorous, whatever you’ll need by day 10 or so
~ it’s only 1667 words per day—that’s fewer than 7 or 8 pages of a typical paperback
~ words are my servants; I am in charge, not them
~ Editing Witch, shut up; this is creation time, not edit time
~ “Mistakes” can lead to great plotting, to unique characters, and to fascinating story worlds
• Have at least 3-5 scenes in mind (even plotted out) before you begin; try for 8-10 or even more
• Learn some details about your major characters before you begin writing their stories
• Know where the story will end; know where you’re going even if you’re not sure how you’ll get there
• Plan to join at least one write-in, either locally or online—we’ll have at least one write-in here at The Editor’s Blog
• Be ready to carry a notepad or tablet (paper or electronic) everywhere for the 30 days so that you can write anywhere
~ write in line waiting to pick up kids
~ write in the parking lot at the grocery store
~ write on the subway or in the carpool
~ write in the bathtub
~ write in bed
• Consider staying after work an extra hour or two if there’s a place available where you can write
• Plan a few long sessions over the 30 days and make arrangements for family, house, and job so that you can follow through
• If you’re in the U.S., plan to write as you wait in line on election day
• If you discover that you won’t make 50,000 words by midnight on November 30, set yourself a new goal—don’t simply give up
• Plan to work on multiple projects if you’re afraid that you’ll be bored with only one
• Go to a library or bookstore and browse books in your genre—encourage yourself
~ Find the spot on the shelf where your book will go
• Remind yourself that you’re not going to finish a complete novel in 30 days
• Remind yourself that this will be a time to get creative and to explore
• Remind yourself to write more than the minimum word count the first few days and on days when you have extra writing time
• Remind yourself that you can skip days and still participate—you do have a life, after all. Still, you’ll have to make up the word count over other days.
• Remind yourself that you’re not racing against others; you are challenging yourself
• Remind yourself not to be sidetracked by:
editing and rewriting
the inability to come up with the perfect title
the inability to come up with character or place names
• Remind yourself that it will be okay to leave blanks in your text as you write. Even when writing at a slower pace, writers skip sections that they’re unsure of.
~ Amal raced after XXX, but lost him after two blocks.
~ Jana opened the journal. Her mother’s name was written on the insider cover in her signature scrawl. Hot tears fell down Jana’s face as she turned the pages. (Jana discovers who her father is—scene ends with her storming out to head to her mom’s house.)
I put together a page of writing prompts that any writer should find helpful, but I wrote many of them with NaNoers in mind. If you’re stuck, tackle a prompt and get yourself writing.