NaNoWriMo is upon us once again and lunatics (read: writers) everywhere are gearing up for a crazy, breakneck, 50,000 word month. Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran of the challenge, here’s some tips to help you reach the finish line with a minimal amount of stress and writer’s block.
1. Outline, outline, outline
While it might be easy to wing it the first few days of November, unless you’re a world-class pantser, you’re likely going to run smack dab into a black hole if you haven’t given some thought about where you’re headed with your novel. While everyone varies in their degrees of plotting, even writing simple bullet points for each major scene in your story will make a big difference. It’s much easier to face the dreaded blank screen when you know where you’re headed. Make no mistake, Nanowrimo is a race against time and test of your writing ability — it’s a heck of a lot easier to stay confident and reach the finish line when you know where you’re headed. On top of that, you’ll have a better book overall.
2. Write with Scrivener
If you aren’t already using it, chances are you’ve heard of the mythical word processor for writers that we mortals call Scrivener. Although it won’t write your novel for you, Scrivener’s handy features do just about everything else. I’m not going to get into a lot of details here because the time for learning how to get fancy is in December, when your rough draft is done. There IS an awesome little feature called project targets that allows you to set an overall word count goal as well as a goal for each writing session, that I would highly recommend. It’s always nice to see that little word count bar grow. After Nanowrimo is over and you’re moving into the editing and revising stages of your novel, you’ll be glad to know that Scrivener makes swapping scenes, compiling ebooks and formatting manuscripts a breeze. Don’t want to commit until you’ve taken a test drive? No problem. Scrivener offers a free 30 day trial period. Best of all, the trial is based on 30 uses, not days. Do yourself a favor and give Scrivener a try. You won’t regret it.
3. Sit down and WRITE
This may seem pretty obvious, but no matter how great your outline or writing program is, you won’t get anywhere if you can’t be disciplined enough to sit down in your chair and do work. Set a realistic daily goal, break your writing periods down into manageable chunks and then get to it. Know ahead of time that distractions, emergencies and days when you don’t feel like you can string a sentence together are unavoidable. Don’t despair — this happens to all of us at every stage of the game. Successful writers get over it and don’t worry about how bad the rough draft reads. Is your time limited? Squeeze in little writing blocks whenever you can make a few uninterrupted minutes — even if you aren’t a morning person, getting up early and writing while the world is quiet can make a world of difference. Most important, however, is to not look back. Even if you’re a neat freak, save those typos, punctuation mistakes and run on sentences for next month. All that matters is getting words on the page.
What writing tactics do you use to conquer Nanowrimo? Share below!
Derek Alan Siddoway ( D_Sidd) always thought he wanted to be a paperback writer. Instead, he broke into the self-publishing world in 2013 when he realized there had to be a better use of his time than writing queries to agents. Converted by the fellowship of indie authors, he never looked back. Now, he’s the Founding Father of Undaunted Publishing, a hybrid publishing house combining the best of traditional and self publishing, and the author of Teutevar Saga, an epic/historical fantasy series with a “medieval western” twist. Learn more at derekalansiddoway.com.