The leaves are beginning to fall and build up into a pile at the front door, which can only mean we're heading into Autumn, which also means that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is looming.
a 50,000 word novel during the month of November! No small task.1667
words per day, every day for 30 days. The key to success is planning,
Now, some authors don't like planning
or outlining, and I'm certainly not one to tell you how to write! But,
if you know roughly where your story is supposed to be going each time
you sit down, you're much more likely to hit that word count target each
day, and it's a key component of a lot of the books out there that will
try to help you hit the lofty heights of thousands of words per day.
are of course limited by your typing speed for one thing - and that can
be made a lot more difficult on the virtual keyboard of something like
an iPad or other tablet.
I'm firmly in the camp of
quality over quantity - so I don't want to just hammer out 2000 words of
nonsense just to tick off the day's word count, so for me, there's a
balance to be struck, and NaNoWriMo is a very good, focused exercise to
help you increase the number of words you're writing per day, while
keeping an eye on the quality as well as the end goal.
So, here are some thoughts about how you might approach a NaNoWriMo project this November: -
Plan an outline of the novel before the start of November
a balance here as well - if you plan in too much detail, you run the
risk of losing the enthusiasm, that spark of creativity that makes you
want to write the story in the first place. However, if you can get a
one or two sentence per scene outline down of the novel, you've got
something to work with each time you sit down. One of the hardest thing
you can face as a writer, is that completely blank page staring back at
you, so swing things in your favour: don't start with a blank page.
Write when you can, as often as you can
may think you don't have time to write - maybe you don't have a couple
of hours free to devote to writing in the evenings, plenty of people
have work and family commitments that keep them from their writing. But,
you've surely got 15 minutes spare sometime in the morning? Get up 15
minutes earlier, and do 15 minutes of writing there and then. Take 15
minutes less for eating lunch, and use that 15 minutes to write. Do the
same around dinner time, and go to bed 15 minutes later, using that time
That's an hour of time there - in 15
minute blocks - and if you can leave each session's writing at a point
where you know how you're going to carry on, then you can pick up in the
next session and just get straight on with it. No staring at the page,
no procrastination, just 15 minutes of you and the story.
Supress your inner editor
goal for NaNoWriMo is not to produce a finished novel. The goal is to
produce the first draft of a novel. So if you change the profession of
your heroine half-way through the story, don't worry about going back
and changing every mention of it in what you've already written. Make a
note of it in a separate document, and just carry on with the writing -
you're going to be changing and editing things in the story well into
December and beyond. You can even leave the spelling mistakes - you can
sort them out later. Now if you're like me, you won't stand for that,
and will end up going back over what you've written, so don't beat
yourself up for doing that - just remember: sort the spelling out, but
don't start looking at what you've written with your critical, editing
eye! That's for later. Keep your eye firmly on the goal of getting the
first draft finished by the end of November.
Above all else, enjoy it!
is one of the most enjoyable things you can do - you're adding to the
collective story-telling legacy of the human race - that's amazing. So
don't worry about "is it good enough", or "who's ever going to read
this" - every author worries about those things, so try to brush it
aside. Concentrate on telling the story you want to tell, and
concentrate on enjoying the creative process as you do so. Argue with
your characters, interview them, ask them what they think of the events
that have shaped their story so far. Take a trip out to a location
that's similar to a location in your story (if you can!) Do whatever you
can to make sure that when you sit down to write, you've got a smile on
There are plenty of tools and programs out
there to help you with your writing, whether it's for planning it,
writing it, or editing it afterwards, and I have quite a few of my own
that I've written for my own use, as well as for sale
- but you don't actually need anything to write, other than something
to write on, and something to write with. There are some free word
processors available (LibreOffice for example), so you don't need to spend anything to get started.
This article is also posted at my software blog.