NaNoWriMo… For those not in the know, it stands for National November Writing Month. Really it is very much an international movement now, but the name is rather catchy just the way it is *grin*. The basic idea of this harebrained scheme is to knuckle down and write a novel in a month. Let’s keep in mind that this is the first draft of a novel. Not a perfect, publishable novel. That’s a pretty important detail!
Can it be done? Well I’ve written three first drafts in a month (each in one month, not all three in one month – are you insane!?!): Awakening, AfterBurn, and Prometheus. So I do know first hand that it can be done. But the actual process of doing it – well I’m not going to lie, it takes some serious determination and knuckling down. Below is my list of helpful things for those tackling this year’s NaNoWriMo – whether it be your first time, or tenth, these are all things you occasionally need to remind yourself of when you get into the thick of it all. I’ve also popped a fantastic printable of this list (shortened so it’s quicker to read/glance at) on Book Geek Chic that you can grab for free right HERE.
- Don’t overthink it. Remember this is all about writing a first draft not a perfectly, polished, publishable, piece. So ignore the little hick-ups and just keep writing
- Oh it is just so much fun to be a pantser, especially when the almost paralysing, inevitable writers-block hits. The best way to avoid this? Plot. It doesn’t need to be big, it doesn’t need major, but if you know where your characters are in Chapter One, where they are in the middle of your book, and what the end result is, you’re going to find it a heck of a lot easier to just keep writing
- Writers-block. It’s more about a lack of inspiration, or brain burn out. For both the easiest thing is to take a walk, look at Pinterest, watch a documentary, basically just get your brain off it and give yourself a chance to reboot. Make sure to limit this to 20mins or less, otherwise you’ll lose out on precious writing time. Oh, and just keep writing
- Talk to your characters. When you’re not writing (doing the dishes maybe, or walking to catch the bus, making the bed, doing anything where it’s not likely people are going to be directly listening to you) talk to your characters. Ask them how they feel about where they are in the story, what they’re worried about, what are their likes/dislikes. It sounds outright weird, but this is one of the most helpful exercises to help you just keep writing
- Take inspiration from those around you. Stuck for a quirky protagonist? Take a snippet of a personality of someone near you and shape it into a fully blown character. Say your mother hates the sensation of tennis balls (true story…). Let that create a character who is sharply aware of textures, and how would that influence their thoughts/feelings/actions. With the multiple characters in your life, be they real/literary/screen, you can use this technique to create endless more characters. Which will help you just keep writing
- Turn a cliché on its head. Take a story that makes you roll your eyes in irritation. Rewrite it. Write it the way YOU want to read it. Burn away the irritation by writing the story in a way you’ll love, and just keep writing
- Above all, no matter what, no matter how little, JUST KEEP WRITING
You got this!
Do you have a suggestion you’d add to your own list? Let me know in the comments, after-all, we crazy writers need all the help we can get!