Monday, October 18, 2010

Ten tips to prep for and survive NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo can be a really great or extremely frustrating experience (my stats: tried 4x finished 2). Here are ten tips to help you prep for and survive NaNoWriMo this November:

Tip #1: Have a plan – it can be as simple as, “Start writing on Nov. 1,” or as detailed as a chapter outline with deadlines for finishing each chapter.

Tip #2: Start with a plot idea or an interesting character (or both) – you don’t have to know everything to start, you just need a spark.

Tip #3: If you get stuck, play, “What If?” – Ask questions like, “What’s the worst thing that could happen to my character right now?” or “What would embarrass my character?” or “What if my character witnessed something really horrible?” and “What did they witness?” (Note: for more “What If” ideas, check out two posts I wrote for NaNo last year on questions to ask your character and questions to ask when you’re stuck.)

Tip #4: Make a new plan (optional) – if your first plan doesn’t work, make a new one that works for you, even if it breaks the official NaNo rules.

Tip #5: No matter what happens, just keep writing.

Tip #6: If you revise as you go, keep two files. One with the revised version, and one for NaNo that has every word you write, because every word counts, revised or not.

Tip #7: Print out your work each day or have a daily writing file – it helps you to realize how much progress you’re making.

Tip #8: If you’re stuck, write yourself into a scene and ask your characters what should happen next. Or, bring in a character from another story to tell your characters what should happen (so you can get back to writing their book). It could help your narrative or just be fun to write while your subconscious is working on the real plot. Best of all, it counts towards your 50k goal.

Tip #9: If you need a break, take it, whether it’s for family (hello Thanksgiving), laundry (you have to do it sometime), or to save your sanity (chocolate and ice cream can help with that too).

Tip #10: Use NaNo to your benefit – if that means writing 50k of a new idea, great. If it means finishing a project or writing 50 easy reader books, that’s great too. Use NaNo in a way that’s beneficial to your writing. Nobody is going to call the NaNo Police on you if you don’t follow all the rules.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If you are: Good Luck!

Am I? Yes, sort of. I’m rewriting a book for NaNo. It’s got a new plot and a different MC, so it’s technically a new novel. I have already started, but since I’m getting ready for a portfolio review, I won’t have much done before NaNo starts. That brings me to a final tip:

Tip #11: Start when you’re ready to write. It doesn’t have to be November 1st.

Happy Writing Everyone!

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