Monday, October 26, 2015

5 Tips to NaNo Success

From last week's post, I've convinced you to do the National Novel Writing Month challenge- 1,667 words a day for a whole month. (Or, you already knew you were going to do it, but wanted confirmation. You got it.)

Now before you go boasting about your intentions, shut up and take the following 5 steps to help guarantee that success.
  • Go into battle with a plan. One does not simply sit down to write the Great Novel. Know how your story starts, one or more incidents in the middle, and one incident toward the end. Beginnings, middles, and endings may change (that's called changing your mind or revisions) but for now you need solid starting points.
  • Get over it and get going. If you don't make your word count one day, don't quit. Write as much as you can. Some days it's a struggle, but that doesn't mean the challenge is over and that you've failed. You may have a day where all you do is write as fast as you can and you make up for the shortage. Even if you don't, keep going. There are no NaNo police. The purpose of NaNo is to create a writing routine, to build your confidence, to work through a bump in the writing road.
  • Go ahead, cheat. Before November 1st, write notes, character sketches, outlines. You can do this before you start or even during the challenge. Maybe you're having a tough time figuring out a scene. By writing a character sketch, you become more intimate with your character's flaws and talents. And it's writing, so if you do this during the challenge, that's writing and it counts. (Do you really think you're going to keep every word you've written once you start revising? *laughs like crazy.)
  • Hook up. Looking for someone special? Someone who shares your secret desire...? Sign up at the official NaNoWriMo site and connect with others. You'll get support, advice, friendship and opportunities to meet with others. This doesn't have to be a lonely endeavor (save that for the revision process). I'll make it easy for you, here's the link: NaNoWriMo
  • Learn a lesson! About your writing, your routine, your weaknesses, your strengths. You have to be honest with yourself- you hate teen angst, so why are you writing a Young Adult novel? Research is so not you, so don't start a crime drama. You have a flair for romantic comedy. Go with it! You have a full time job--but you can squeeze in a couple of hundred words while the kid is at soccer practice, the baby sleeps, or at 5 am (no one said writing was easy). Learn what works best for you.
Those are my five tips for before you start. If you're still unsure, there are 'write-ins' where you gather with others to do some fast and furious writing, encourage each other, maybe help suggest fixes for plots that stall. And if that isn't enough, I'll be giving a free workshop at the Somerset County Library on Vogt Lane in Bridgewater, NJ on Wednesday, Nov 4th from 6:30 to 8:30. Just click here: NJ SCBWI NaNo Event for info. (Although I'm presenting as a member of the NJ Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, you don't have to write for kids/teens. If you want to write for adults, this presentation works just as well.)

Good writing, and good luck!


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