Only two days until National Novel Writing Month! I have compiled a few of my favourite tips and tricks for getting through 50,000 words in a single month. Hopefully these will help you get started.
Quantity not Quality
The number one piece of advice I have for NaNo is to remember the goal of the challenge. The goal is to write an obscene (for the average writer) number of words in a single month. Fifty thousand words a month, or 1,667 words per day. Like most NaNo participants I am not a full time writer. I work and have a family. I can’t spend hours and hours each day working on getting a wonderful, amazing, beautiful 1,667 words. For me NaNo is quick and dirty. I get my word count each day, but it is rough and unpolished. Some days it is words for the sake of making the arbitrary goal of 1,667 words.
Do not edit
This actually relates to my first point. If you start editing your previous days work you can easily get sucked into the always editing, never moving forward, trap. If you absolutely must edit or you won’t be able to move forward then set a time limit. Take ten minutes to reread the previous session’s work but no more. During NaNo I employ a strict no looking policy for previously written words. I don’t want to see how bad they are or I might lose heart and give up writing completely. I know there will be plenty of editing to do, and after November I can take as much time as I need to get it done.
Do not delete scenes
Even if you know with 100% certainty a scene will never be part of the final novel do not delete it. You wrote those words, and at the end of the month you may need every one of them to cross the finish line. If you absolutely can’t stand to look at the scene either move it to a ‘deleted scenes’ folder if you are using scrivener, or turn the text white if you are using a word processor. Either way you want those words to count toward your word count.
Don’t over think it
You are here to write a rough draft. Don’t get caught up in word choice and all the other minutiae of writing. Have horrid grammar? Don’t worry about it you can fix it all later. Trust me grammar is my nemesis. Don’t know what to name a character? Pick the name of your best friend from grade school and get typing. You can always do a find and replace on the name once you know what you actually want to use. Can’t think of the right term for something? Make something up and highlight it to come back and fix later. Keep your momentum as much as possible. This is a time to let your fingers fly.
Have you always wanted to write a story with a dragon who takes the bus? Now is your time to give it a go. Be brave, take risks, and let strange things happen. If you get stuck have your characters do something unexpected. Channel Joss Whedon and kill someone off, or send your characters off to the moon in a spaceship made of cheese. Write in a genre that has always interested you but you haven’t been brave enough to attempt. Most likely any novel you churn out in a single month isn’t going to be the best work you have ever done straight out of the gate. Take advantage of that and try something new without all the pressure of getting it just right.
Do you have a detailed outline for your novel this year or are you pantsing it? Are you ready for the insanity that can be NaNoWriMo?