Are you writing a NaNoWriMo novel this year?
For those that are asking “What in the world is NaNoWriMo?” here is a quick recap.
NaNoWriMo (or NaNo, as many participants call it) stands for National Novel Writing Month. It happens each year in November, where insane writers pledge to put their lives on hold and pound on their computer keyboard until a first draft of their new novel is completed or they reach 50,000 words.
Why would they do this? As I stated above… They’re insane!
I’m proud to confess that I am a member of this insane group. I concede it’s not for everyone, but I find it helpful.
My first book came from this process, and now I’m working on its sequel. Keep in mind that this method only produces a very, very rough first draft. It has to be rough in order to complete 50,000 words in one month. Breaking that down, it a little over 1600 words a day.
Starting off, it’s not bad. Those words come quickly and ideas flow. I know what I’m aiming for and have a pretty good idea of how the book will end. I am a planster. This means I don’t create a detailed outline, but allow my characters to “plan where they go.” I’ll go into this in more detail in a future blog. For now, let’s get back to NaNo.
As I said earlier, the first part of the novel is easier to write. You already have a basic idea of who your characters are what direction they’re heading. The ending is also fairly easy. You have the flow of the book and putting all the pieces together is obvious and fun. It’s the middle that’s difficult. Think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. First you do the edges and frame, the middle is harder, and the last few pieces are a breeze.
That middle is where we are now in NaNo. This is the tough part. It’s the part where most people give up. This is the point where ideas stop flowing and worse yet, we start looking at how much time we have left. Panic sets in and discouragement sticks its nasty face in the room. But this is where we must press on. But how do we do this?
I have a few ideas that work for me:
- Bounce your story off someone else – this works well for me. I will often bounce an idea off a stranger I just met at the mall or grocery store.
- Reread your last few chapters, then lay back and daydream. Don’t think of it as your book. Think of it as a movie and you’re reviewing the plot.
- Bounce ideas off a writing buddy. – often, others can spark an idea that you would never have thought of.
- Read – get out of the “write box” and change your focus. Read something in the genre you’re writing in. This always sparks ideas for me.
Most of all, have fun. I can’t write when I’m stressed. Nothing cramps my style, like trying to write when I’m overly stressed. When I am able to write while stressed, most of it is garbage and it’s cut.
So, keep writing, don’t stress and have fun. Remember, this is a tool to help you reach your goals. If it doesn’t help, take extra time and don’t feel like you’re a loser if it’s not completed in the month. The only losers are those who stop writing. Let me know how you’re doing. Drop your word count in the comments.