Tip of the Day: Try a 15-minute sprint and write as fast as you can for 15 minutes in your work in progress. Don’t stop to second guess yourself. You’ll be surprised what you can produce “going for speed.”
Yay, it’s November! I love November. The kids are used to their school schedules, the holidays are around the corner but still manageable, and people’s minds turn to new writing projects. November is National Novel Writing Month, when writers voluntarily commit themselves to writing 50,000 words before December 1. (Check out the website at http://www.nanowrimo.org/.)
I’m not “NaNo-ing” this year due to prior commitments and I’m feeling a little left out, although last year was the first year I participated. I managed to write 37,000 words of a middle grade novel that consisted of 0 words in October—so basically, almost a whole draft of a book in one month! (Unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to properly run it past my critiquers yet but it’s coming so soon, my friends, insert evil chuckle here.)
I loved the camaraderie of NaNo: running a word count before I shut down my PC for the night and emailing it to my NaNo buddies in the morning; naming a secondary character in my book after a NaNo buddy who wrote the most words in a given weekend; meeting at a bagel place with our laptops to type as much as we could in a family-free hour. Definitely, there were a lot of unneeded words in my NaNo draft to up the word count (oh, the comparisons I used, and the described characters who never appear in a scene in person) but you’d be surprised how fast it moved. Because I have a short attention span. When I write a little a day, I can stay in the same scene forever. But sitting and writing it all at once, I was like, “This is boring. I’m bored. How could they still be in the basement? I’m making them climb out the window.”
I feel like I got the most out of NaNo, so here’s what I learned:
1. Have some partners in crime. It adds a level of fun to check in with your friends that can keep you going when you feel like watching TV instead.
2. Make an outline. You don’t have to stick to it, but it stops you from staring at the screen when you’re stuck. You need to be typing, baby! Pick something off that outline and get going.
3. When you get home from work or when you wake up, open up your word processing program immediately and leave it open until you go to bed. You can get an amazing amount done in ten minutes here and there, especially towards the end when you might lose your ability to sit still for hours.
4. Office supply mania! Carry index cards, pens, journals, whatever. If you sit down to the keyboard armed with notes from random times and places during the day, you’ll find the process much quicker and easier than starting all over every night.
5. You will have to give something up. Probably TV or reading or whatever else you did in your spare time, but as a writer, you probably don’t have much spare time to spare. So it’s best to face it right off: you will have to give something up in order to get more writing time. You know that. You live it every day. NaNo is your excuse to do it. If you give up sleep, exercise, or eating right, you’ll pay the price, but you know that too, don’t you? Still … something will have to give. And NaNo’s only once a year.
I’ll be doing a Fast Draft January with some friends who are also booked this November because I just can’t stay away for a whole year! For those of you participating now, I salute you, and I look forward to joining you again next year. I can’t wait to hear about your 2008 NaNo experience … when you come up for air in December, of course.
-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer