Friday, November 1, 2013

My Five NaNo Writing Tips

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo and while I'm not participating this year, I thought I'd share some of the things that have helped me in the past.

The one thing that always ups my word count is to have an idea of where I'm going.  This is how I do it.

Tip #1 Know Where You're Going

I do a one sentence chapter outline.  Like this one I did for Ashes Ashes

 It's very basic as you can see, just one sentence about the main event that's going to happen in that chapter.

Then, I flesh it out a bit more and write a paragraph about what else is going to happen in that chapter, like this one I did for Ribbon of Darkness.

Once I have those things in place, I can sit down at the computer and flesh it out.  I know the main event, I know the supporting incidents and players, and that's what keeps the words flowing onto the page for me. It's a loose and flexible outline, that inevitably changes as I write, but it gives me direction and that's the important thing.

Tip #2  Suppress your inner editor

This is a hard one for me because I itch to go back and edit things and tell myself I'll just smooth it over really quick.  But it's like quicksand.  If I "smooth over" one thing, then I need to fix another and then I get caught up in editing and don't add to my word count.  Don't fall into the trap! You'll have all of December, January, February, however long it takes to edit.  Just get the story out right now.

#3 Do word sprints

Word sprints are so motivating to me, that's why I do them on Wednesday nights here on the blog.  I block out that one hour to just sit and write, write, write.  Checking in every fifteen minutes with my friends pushes me harder and by the end of the hour I have 1000 new words to work with!  It's always worth my time to do a word sprint. (And I will be doing them every Wednesday on the blog throughout the month of November.)

#4 Set aside time every day

Even if you can only do half an hour in the morning and half an hour at night, set aside time every day for writing and guard it.  Don't let other things take precedence over it and be able to say no to any extra stuff at least for this month.  You need that precious writing time and while NaNo takes some planning, you'll be glad you did in the end.

#5 Go take a bath 

Take a bath or a long shower, go swimming, or sit by a lake or other body of water.  It sounds silly I know, but I read a study once that said whenever you are near water your creative part of the brain is more alert and I believe that's true. (And it might not be, who really knows?) But I get a lot of great ideas for my books while I'm near/in water.  Plus, it's relaxing and what writer doesn't need a little relaxation once in a while? (Maybe that's why the creative brain is more alert, because we're relaxed and able to tune in, you know?)

NaNo is always so exciting and stressful, but I know you can do it.  If you have any writing tips you'd like to share for NaNo please let me know in the comment trail.  I'm sure we can use all the help we can get.  

I hope you have a great writing run this month.  Go get 'em!  


Aubrey said...

I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to do NaNo this year or not. I know... talk about waiting until the last minute! But your tips were great. Thanks! :)

Aubrey said...

I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to do NaNo this year or not. I know... talk about waiting until the last minute! But your tips were great. Thanks! :)

Debra Erfert said...

I'm not doing NaNo this year. Although I did participate last year, and I finished that book earlier this year, and am submitting it to publishers/agents. Not much luck, yet. I'll give it a little while longer before I indie publish it. While you may not get a publishable manuscript in a short 30 days, you certainly can get a great rough draft.

Loved our view of your outlining, Julie.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

Love your outlining method. I still haven't found one that works for me. though I keep looking and trying different things. I think I make it too comlicated. I'm going to give this a try.

Janice Sperry said...

I'm trying ywriter for outlining. It's free. I've done tiny outlines, but nothing this detailed before. I wrote the entire first chapter today. It's terrible, but it's done. I just keep telling myself I can make it better next month when it's all done. Getting the rough draft finished is the hardest part for me.

Thanks for your tips. I actually get a lot of ideas while I'm in the shower. lol. I think I'll read through my little paragraph for chapter two before I shower next time so I can get the wheels rolling. :)

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Thanks, Aubrey and Debra!

Stephanie, you should definitely try a bunch of different things until you find what works for you. I hope I helped a bit!

Janice, you can do it! And definitely try the shower thing, it almost always works for me. :)

Jon Spell said...

Just thought I'd pop in and say that it was really cool to see pics of your outlines. It's just neat. =)

I'm kind of pantsing this one after having done an outline last time. I really just have a situation that I've thrown my character into and I'm working my way through it. I have a really rudimentary plot and some situations I want to explore, but really, I have no idea where it'll end up.

It will probably turn out horribly, but I just barely crested 5000 words after 4 days, so if the month were 40 days long, I'd be on track to finish it!