Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NaNoWriMo: Tips and Tricks

After, "How much should I plan?" the second most common question I get is, "How do you do it?" Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is, after all, not an every day (or every month) accomplishment for most of us. Those who are lucky enough to write full time might tell a different story, but the average Wrimo also holds either a full time job or is a full time student. Adding a novel on top of that can be daunting.

Here's the first thing to remember: You are not writing 50,000 words in one day. The daily total to stay on track is 1,667 words. That comes out to about 5-6 pages, depending on font. On a normal day, it takes me about an hour of actually writing (read: not looking at the internet) to finish the day's word count. Most of us can carve one hour out of our day to dedicate to writing.

That brings me to the second tip: Turn off your internet. You can do this in a variety of ways. On my old PC, I would actually switch the wi-fi receptor off. Now that I'm using Scrivener on my Mac, I've fallen in love with full-screen mode. It blocks everything out, including those applications down in the dock that always call out for my attention. If you need to do research, set a timer and look for the one piece of information you need before you get back to writing. Do not get sucked into the Wiki Trail!

One more thing. Writing a novel in a month means write, don't edit.  Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, puts it like this. "Make no mistake, you will be writing a lot of crap." There is no way you can write 50,000 words in 30 days and have every one be perfect. Oh, there will be some passages that just sing... but an equal amount that just suck. Do not edit! There will be time for that in December and beyond. The point of NaNoWriMo is that until you actually get the rough draft down, there is nothing to edit.

So there you have it. Of course, if you check the website, there's a whole forum devoted to little cheats you can use to reach 50K. I admit to using a few, like the no contractions rules (though since my novel is historical, I have an excuse), but here I wanted to give you some advice on how you could honestly reach 50,000 words.

One more thing: If you haven't checked in with your local region, I highly recommend it. There's nothing like meeting up with a few other crazies like-minded individuals to keep you going throughout the month.

Good luck!