I may not be participating in NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) this year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the beauty of some of the things I learned over the years I did participate (I feel pretty ancient after that statement). Sure, it’s a crazy frenzy of pouring thousands of words straight from your heart to the page (or the screen), but that doesn’t mean it’s all impulse. Here are a few of the things I learned from NaNo.
1) Have a plan. This doesn’t mean you have to have a detailed line-per-scene outline complete with character names, descriptions, and complete family history going back ten generations, but it should probably be more than “Write about apples.” (Why apples? I don’t know. That’s what popped into my head. Thanks, Muse. Such a smart-Alec.) My personal favorite is a brief 2-3 sentence synopsis of the major scenes, plus a mention of anything that pertains to that scene that the Muse might give me (Like, “It would be really funny if the story opened with her tripping and almost falling into the casket in the middle of the funeral. Flashing the audience would be great, too.” Again, thanks, Muse. True story.).
2) Have goals. Goals are pretty important in writing, I’ve found. How else are you going to write 50,000 in 30 days if you don’t know that you need to hit 1,667 words per day? Word count goals no longer work for me (at least not currently). Now I go with pages. My goal may be a paltry 2 pages per week right now, but it’s a goal. (Don’t judge me. I have a lot going on, and my days only have 24 hours in them.).
3) Have friends. By “friends” I mean “fellow writers you can talk to.” Trust me, non-writers do not get it. Just because I’m a writer does not make me a poet. Or a biographer. (The two most common “You should write–” suggestions I get. Why would I want to write about your life? Yes, you’ve done some stupid things, but it’s really better if we don’t publicize them…). If you hit the wall while writing, writing friends are a helpful support group, always available for hand-holding, pep talks, and/or moving the bottle out of your reach.
So, there you go. A few helpful tips Now, back to your keyboards! Those 1,667 words aren’t going to write themselves (probably). I’m off to work on my plan (since the Muse hasn’t seen fit to grace me with one for The Fall yet…).