It’s just past the second week of NaNoWriMo and things are getting tough. I’ve been seeing it everywhere; the lack of sleep is finally taking a toll on people, plots are failing and jobs and children are screaming for attention.
I’ve seen this happen every time I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and so for this year I decided I’ll share with you my top four tricks to finishing a successful NaNoWriMo.
These tricks are easy and simple and in fact I would call most of them habits instead of tricks but the main thing you need to understand before I share them with you is that they are ultimately successful when paired with the right set of mind. I’ll explain this for each trick so let’s get to it.
Trick number one – flashcards.
Often times you go sit in front of your computer (or other writing instrument) and you just have nothing to write. Your story might have come across a problem such as having a flat middle or perhaps you’re actually reaching the end of your novel even though you’re still far from 50 000 words. Now you suddenly have a mindset problem because you don’t know what to write, and you don’t feel like doing that whole free writing thing because face it sometimes free writing sucks sometimes, and you want to be certain that you’re writing something good. So you simply don’t write anything and you fall a day or two behind.
So your mindset here is I have nothing to write so I’m not going to write.
This has a very simple fix and that is my flash card method.
Take a pile of empty note cards (just cut up some paper) and on the first five cards write down a simple description of the previous five scenes you wrote. Now it’s time to brainstorm and ask yourself what you want to add to this story. Perhaps it’s a side plot about redemption or more scenes that shows the dynamics of your characters or… whatever really.
Break this down into scenes and write down one scene per card for the rest of the flash cards.
The reason I wanted you to write down the previous five scenes you wrote is because often when we review what we’ve written then ideas start coming in for what we want to write.
Now you have a couple more ideas right there with you to keep you going when you are running out of writing juice and you can know what you’re going to write next. The trick about the flash card method is to be constantly adding to your pile of flash cards. If you get an idea write it on a flash card and add it to the pile.
Trick number two – write in the morning.
You’ve probably heard this advice before: write in the morning because that’s when your mind is freshest… I think that’s nonsense because I really take very long to fully wake up but this advice does hold for a different reason.
The morning is your only real set time of day. It doesn’t matter if you have the best schedule ever things in everyday life goes slightly off course all the time. Perhaps your mother tells you to study more in the afternoon or for a different example your children’s school runs a little late or even just the traffic that day isn’t great. All of this is potential threats to your writing. All of this is trying to stop you from reaching your word goal.
In the morning though there isn’t anything in your day yet to throw you off course and the chances that something will disturb you is much smaller.
Why this has to do with mindset, is because all those other things are often an excuse to not write as you tell yourself that today you can’t – and so you won’t. In the morning though you’re willpower is at its strongest and there isn’t a good reason to not write.
Trick three – Word sprint without spell-check.
A word sprint for those of you who don’t know is when you set a timer and try to write as fast as possible in that time.
The real part of this trick though is to turn off your spellchecker.
You see I have a lot of trouble ignoring words that have a red line under them. I also have a grammar check and that is just as bad because I constantly go back and fix what I’m writing as I’m writing.
It’s not really a horrible thing to do in most cases and I have never heard of anyone completely stopping with their writing because of spell-check, but for NaNoWriMo we’re pressed for speed and it almost certainly is slowing you down.
So turn it off. Write for fifteen minutes without your spell-check (I like typing with my eyes closed) and then when the time is up turn it back on and do a quick fix – which means no deleting any sentences and focusing on grammar and spelling.
Trick four – Carry a notebook everywhere.
I know that men don’t carry handbags like women so for the male writer this one might be a little tougher but if possible I really suggest carrying a physical notebook with you during NaNoWriMo. ( A phone will suffice but I like real paper for this more.)
Why I suggest this is because to stay excited for your novel you need a reminder of it with you when you are not in front of a computer. A notebook is good for this because that way you can write down your ideas and everything, which will keep your mind excited for your novel until you can, once again, return to a computer.
As I said these tricks are more habits than anything else and is really simple to implement into everyday life. (Something that NaNoWriMo isn’t always)
I haven’t done a post like this in a while but I hope it helps with the rest of the month.
Now share with me, what tricks do you use during NaNoWriMo to keep you going? Is there something similar to the tricks I mentioned or is it something completely different?
All comments welcome!