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Some tips for NaNoWriMo

While I'm writing this with specifically National Novel Writing Month in mind (NaNoWriMo), these suggestions can certainly be adapted for other types of marathon/big bang/challenge writing. In fact, I'm writing this in part to remind myself of ideas as I take part in octoberwriting, which is itself gonna be a "warm-up" for NaNo.

- Turn off your inner editor. This was probably the most important tip I took from Chris Baty's book and it most certainly has been the best lesson I learned. If you must, go back to edit your day's writing only *after* you have finished your word count for the day.

- Word Sprints (and/or Write or Die) are your friends. Word wars also work. This is the perfect time to practice that "ignore that bitchy voice that is your inner editor." The point of word sprints/wars is to write as much as you can within a set time period. This is about getting words on the page. This does not have to be coherent or fully make sense. This could include your inner monologue as you comment on your own story. Does not matter, just get writing! Follow @NaNoWordSprints. They're already doing multiple sprints during the evenings (US times).

- Get yourself a "bag of tricks Here are some of the examples of what I have:
+ A text file of my favorite lines from fanfic. (Can apply to any literature, lyric, or poem.)
+ (Multiple) file(s) of favorite quotes
+ Files of favorite/appealing/applicable prompts, etc. from NaNoWriMo forum "adopt a..." threads. If you want copies of the adoptable threads from 2009, I have them html saves of the pages. The website is about to be overhauled in prep for this Nov.
+ Collecting every fortune from fortune cookies

What am I supposed to do with this? In the case of the fortunes, I literally will put these in a bag. (I also write a sentence or poem stanza or anything else short on a piece of paper, and this is added to the bag.) When I'm stuck and can't think of how to get my word count of the day met, I draw from the bag. Whatever I get, I use that at my prompt. I only get two other chances to decide, this isn't about digging for what's appropriate. I might be writing a realistic drama and draw a "wild card" that mentions zombies. Somehow I need to get zombies into the story, it can be a dialogue snippet - whatever. As with everything else: the point is to just keep writing!

- Limit the number of stories you're working on. In fact, kick those other projects out the door. For 30 days - trust me, it goes by fast - you are going to work on this project and get it done. It's too easy to get off-track, so make yourself work only on your NaNo fiction. Your only acceptable excuse is if you have to write fiction for some assignment or work.

- JUST. KEEP. WRITING. Not kidding about this.
+ Write every single day of NaNo. If you can't always meet your word count goal, don't stress too much, but be damn sure you have at least a sentence down on the page. It could be as simple as "And the night got stormy and dark." Could be you have a character recite his/her/your favorite quote.
+ Kick your inner-editor out of your process. You won't get very far if you let it hinder your progress.
+ After the month is over, you can cut out whatever you want. What you're writing this month? No one else on the planet has to see it. But do not delete anything. Feel free to have multiple files for your story, maybe one contains only the parts you're willing to work with in the future?

- BACKUP YOUR WORK. SAVE ALL THE DAMN TIME. I cannot tell you how terrified I am of losing my writing. I've lost a couple stories over the years because of corrupted data files. I've lost parts of and entire reports. This is your worst nightmare and if you lose your story while you're writing... well, I wouldn't blame you for running into a corner and crying the rest of the month. Some suggestions and options:
+ E-mail yourself every day what you've written
+ Save a copy to GoogleDocs
+ Save not only on your hardrive, but also on a USB device or external hardrive.

Some more misc.
+ Your story can change completely at any moment, let it go, don't worry. You may have more than one "beginning" to your story. In the week of writing I did this month? I have five beginnings with basically three completely different setups. It happens, let the muses and characters go as they like.

+ Join your regional board and meet your ML & fellow writers in the area. If you can, get to the write-ins and meet-ups. I wrote a good third of my novel last year going to those meetings. It's how I got hooked on word sprints.

+ If you like music while you write, make (multiple!) playlists before the month of writing. If you're like me, you're apt to get completely sidetracked and distracted with sorting through your music - you don't want this to cut into your precious writing time.

+ Get excited! I'm serious about this, getting excited to participate is key to keeping up the motivation. Have fun looking through communities and websites to get NaNo graphics! I have a ton of NaNo icons from last year and I continue to use them because they are simply awesome! Grab some banners and let people know how cool and crazy you are!

+ A Write, A Plot, and Details: Take this lesson to heart!

+ Chris Baty suggests in his book that a writer might do well to write a "Magna Carta" (this is mine from last year). This is really a cool idea. Make a list of what you like/love in a story and things that you can't stand. I have additionally made a list of certain things I'd like to address (for example, I knew in last year's story that I wanted to include some Hotch/Reid romance. This year is probably going to be Cho/Jane; I also know I'd like to investigate Cho's social life.)

+ Creating Post Secrets for your characters (a bunch of mine here) can be ridiculously fun. There was a thread on the forums last year and I'm pretty sure there will be another this year. Even if you don't create your own, looking through those by other people can be excellent for inspiration.

I'm here, writing buddies!
Do you want to word war? Do you need some extra encouragement? Do you just want to know someone is writing "with you"? E-mail/message/comment.

I am on Twitter (same username). I have MSN, AIM, gchat, Meebo, and Skype.

That's all.......... for now!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 29th, 2010 01:04 pm (UTC)
Those are some really good suggestions. I did a mini-NaNo last November and made the word count, but the fic has yet to see the light of day. I'd do it again, but I think I'm going to be busy working on my syfybigbang, which is turning into a monster.
Sep. 29th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I've signed up for a variety of BBs in the past year and just have utterly failed. :< So I'm determined to do NaNo (and this octoberwriting thing).

My NaNo fic from last year hasn't been exposed to anyone else's eyes yet. XD It needs a heavy dose of trimming and proofing before it does. Unfortunately that means I have no actual beginning (I think it's like page 12 that the writing finally starts getting to the actual story) and there's gaping plot holes. :p I haven't looked at it for a few months, though, so if I wasn't busy with school work & new writing ventures, I could probably try getting to it again. *shrugs* Then again, it's a Criminal Minds/NCIS fic and I'm not very much into either fandom at the moment so...

I am clearly babbling. XD
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 1st, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
Ooo, awesome! :D Glad I could be of help.

Another recommendation is to not stress about not being sure of names/places. I'm prone to writing in caps now: SOMEPLACE and [ROOMMATE NAME] ;)

Oh the silly things we do...
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 1st, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
*nodnod* And I use brackets around anything I know I'll want to delete in the future. (Because there's no way you want to sacrifice your word count, right?)

So are you doing an original story or fanfic?
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )