Saturday 13 October 2012

Tips For NaNoWriMo First-Timers

Next month sees National Novel Writing Month, commonly known as NaNoWriMo. After getting some great tips from 2013 debut author Josin McQuein yesterday, I thought I'd add some of my own.

My own past experiences of NaNo have been, shall we say, rather hit and miss. Actually, they've been more 'miss and miss by more'. I've made six attempts, the best of which saw me just about break 20k. However, this month I'm trying my own private 'novel in a month' challenge which I'm imaginatively calling OctoWriMo, and have written 25,000 words in 12 days. I thought I'd share some tips on what I'm doing this time that seems to have made the difference. (This is also partly to motivate myself, because I figure that if I post a 'tips for NaNo' post then it will be REALLY embarrassing not to finish this!)

1. Set high targets, and try to exceed them, but don't beat yourself up about not making them. To write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, you need to write 1,667 words a day. My previous attempts have seen me aim to do that, and run out of steam after a week or so. This time, I'm aiming for 2000 words a day, and if I can, I'm doing 2500. However, if I don't make it, I'm shrugging my shoulders and thinking "There's always tomorrow."

2. Let people know you're writing a novel, and how you're getting on with it. I'm posting daily word count updates to Twitter to keep me motivated - I'm going to be too ashamed to tweet for ages if I don't get this done.

3. Try and get in a routine - I try to write from 10:30pm until midnight every day, because I've found I write better late at night.

4. If you have an iPod, delete your apps! Get rid of Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, and other stuff, and when you have ten minutes spare try and get a couple of paragraphs done.

5. Plot things out beforehand, but don't be surprised if you change things. I was originally writing a dual narrative between a 19-year-old university student and an 18-year-old grieving for her dead boyfriend and fighting with her stepsister. Over the last couple of weeks, it's changed into a tale of the 18-year-old moving on with her life with her stepsister's support. Nowhere near what I had planned, but knowing there WAS a plan gave me some idea of where to go with it.

6. On a related note, don't edit or delete anything! Even if you think you've taken your story in a completely different direction, leave it in there for now - it counts towards your 50,000 words, but more to the point, it's still there if your change of direction turns out not to work.

7. Don't share your work with people. I think that in theory, the idea of reading other people's, and them reading yours, is awesome - but in practice they come back to you with great suggestions, you can't resist editing, and you end up doing that instead of writing. Save the discussion about the book until December!

8. Grab some books. There are a huge amount of writing guides of various quality - my personal favourite is probably Holly Lisle's Professional Plot Outline Mini-Course, which is a massive bargain at just 72p for Kindle. The other book which I'm absolutely in love with is the Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, a fabulous resource for someone like myself who struggles with "Show don't tell." (Warning on this one - I'm using it via the Kindle app for iPad and the hyperlinks are fabulous; I've been told that reading it on the actual Kindle isn't as good.)

Have you done NaNO before, or are you planning on doing it this year? Would you like to share some tips? I'd love to see them in the comments section!

1 comment:

  1. NaNoWriMo is far too daunting for me. I know I couldn't get 1667 words out everyday, and writing at weekends doesnt really work so well with four kids running around, and especially this year as half-term falls at the beginning of November.
    However, I do have two tips to add and that is for the badge-motivated out there.
    Sign up to and register that you are doing NaNoWriMo. The basic premise is that you write 750 words a day, everyday, for which you get badges and stats. You also get badges for doing a monthly challenge or NaNoWriMo. Obviously you just keep writing beyond the 750 words, which is counted for you as you go. The words are stored, and exportable.
    The second tip is to buy a box of your fave chocolates, allowing yourself one when you have finished your daily quota. Simple.