How To Survive NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, happens in November and is when people commit to  writing 1,667 words a day with the end goal being that they have written 50,000 words by the end of the month. It is a block of time where people try their hardest to get a novel written with many succeeding and many not succeeding.  I completed my first NaNo last year and did it successfully, which was a huge yay moment for me. So here are my tips to get  through NaNo as successfully as you can.

woody and buzz

If you think of NaNo like this it can be intimidating.

  1. Sign up as early as possible. This way NaNo HQ will send you emails full of hints and tips to prepare for November. They’ve been doing it for a long time, they know their stuff.
  2. Be realistic. Know yourself and how much you can write in a day. If you currently write nothing, don’t expect to suddenly be able to write over 1,000 words everyday for 30 days, it ain’t going to happen. Set a goal that is reasonable for you and get it done. The habit of writing everyday that NaNo gives you is far more valuable than the actual word count.
  3. Don’t stress. If you miss a day or don’t hit your word count for that day, don’t worry about it. Easy to say not so easy to do. Still, if it happens, try not to stress. All stressing does is make it harder to get the words out (unless you are one of those weird and wonderful people who thrive under pressure, in that case go ahead).
  4. Start writing ahead of time. If you have the time and really want to hit that 50,000 word target, start writing before November. It will ease the pressure slightly, even if it isn’t completely what NaNo is about.
  5. Block out time. Like anything important, set aside a certain time of the day to get your writing done. I like to do it first thing in the morning before anyone else is up. Other people like to do it late at night. Find what suits you best and block it out.
  6. Tell people. Let those closest to you know what you are doing, odds are that they will support you. This can take the form of bringing you drinks and snacks or doing your housework. It all helps.
  7. Take breaks. Don’t stay tied to the computer, it will stunt your creativity and that doesn’t help you reach your goal. Taking a break reinvigorates you, so take them.
  8. Connect with others. Either through the NaNo site or social media, talking to others doing NaNo helps you to get perspective and they also are awesome at offering support and helping when you are stuck with your novel. They are there for you.

Ultimately NaNo can be stressful but it can be an awesome sense of accomplishment, whether you hit the 50,000 goal and win or not. Remember, it’s for 30 days, not life and however many words you get written, you didn’t have them down before and that’s the real win.

mountain-success

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Can Doing Nothing Lead To Something?

This past week has been a real balancing act between writing and other aspects of my life. Although I managed it, with varying degrees of success, I got to the end of the week and I was tired and disheartened. It sucked.

balance

The week felt like a balancing act and any moment I’d fall, drenching myself and failing.

It’s at times like this that I take it back to basics. I didn’t write at all yesterday, mainly because of a massive headache, but the break was needed. My commitment to writing a minimum of 900 words a day no matter what went out the window and instead I snuggled on the couch watching re-runs of Project Runway on low. It. Was. Awesome.

For a while I simply thought of nothing, completely zoned out. Then I started thinking about my characters for my current work in progress (WIP) and about the magical element in my story. Although I didn’t write anything down, I took the pressure off and actually accomplished a lot in the way of getting my mind sorted in regards to some of the mechanics of my story. This led to a fantastic brain storming session first thing this morning, despite a lack of sleep thanks to my youngest child.

galaxy

After a break, my mind felt like it could see everything and led to a great brainstorming session.

And that is the heart of the matter, in doing nothing I actually did something. Were my goals for the day met? No, but today I’m smashing it out of the park and also, I’m not stressing myself out. This creative path is not a straight one and I honestly think that the journey, in all its dips and curves, is marvelous. Even if I need reminding of that on occasion.   Hope you are enjoying your journey, wherever it is taking you.

Handwriting or Computer Typing?

So this post’s topic was born out of laziness on my part. I needed to write my blog, but I couldn’t be bothered getting my computer. My notepad was near by so I figured it was easier to locate a pen and jot down notes and type later. WRONG!

computer-typing

Blog’s are internet based and really I should have just typed the freaking the post.

When I went back later to type it I realized my fatal error, I was double handling my work. Not only that, but I had missed words while writing and some of what I had written didn’t make sense. My lazy solution had only made my life harder later. But it did get me thinking. I know people who swear by hand writing their first draft. They claim that it makes them slow down and consider what they write.

After this little exercise, there is no way on earth you could get me to write a story by hand. If there is a computer or tablet, something like that, I’m using it.

But what about writing other things? I write lists so I can get things done. Now these I actually do write by hand and have no hope of converting to a smart phone or tablet. I tried and I just didn’t look at the list. Once again there are people who swear by using their smart phones for list making.

handwriting

I write my lists by hand with no hope of changing to more modern technology.

So really, handwriting and computer typing both have their place, like anything in this world. Doesn’t matter which you prefer, so long as you are creating and getting things done.

Is Preparation Your Key?

I don’t know about anyone else but I’m a real mixed bag when it comes to preparation and writing. Prior to writing A Balance of Secrets, I never planned my stories in anyway. Then I got the idea for Secrets and I actually fleshed out the three main characters to a certain extent and jotted down points for the beginning of the story. Once that was done I happily wrote part of the manuscript.  Then I got to a point where I couldn’t keep track of who had met who so I came up with my spider web which was also great for giving me a visual of my characters and the places they have been or are going to.

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Part of my spider web

Then came the editing process. Suddenly I had plot holes and needed a way to keep track of them. Enter the whiteboard. I say whiteboard, but in reality it’s a large picture frame that I’ve turned into one. This suits me really well because it’s not too big for my creative space and I got to make it more colourful than white. I adore colour.

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My picture frame turned whiteboard

I have NEVER prepared like that before and I have to say it has made it easier. What I liked about it the most though was that it was all organic. I didn’t plan every last detail of my story, but nor did I totally pants it. I guess, at least for me, the answer is that a little bit of preparation is key, but not too much. And that’s the best thing about being creative, you can change your approach  and still get results. Prepare or not, no one but you gets to decide how you create and that’s freaking awesome.