NaNoWriMo Survival Guide
So you signed up for Nanowrimo… good job!
There are a lot of guides out there, so I’m just going to tell you what works for me, take of it what you will.
First things first – Nano isn’t hard… for a vetran writer. Stephen King says write 2k a day, well you only have to write 1667 for Nano.
And you can do that two ways;
Panster – someone who just sits and writes as it comes to them
Plotter – someone who outlines what they are going to write before they do it
Generally, I’m a panster but I’ve normally seen the 3D movie version of the story inside my head beforehand… well, at least the scenes that would make it to the trailer for the film.
But for Nano I do a bit of plotting, and its because Nano day in day out can get hard. I normally ask for a week of leave off work just to do it. When you work full time that leave is precious, and I cant think of anywhere I’d rather spend it! This year I can’t do it, so I’m plotting. That way, when I sit at a computer to write, I know exactly what I should be working on.
How do you plot Nano?
It devolves down to outlines. I write novellas for Nano. 50k words on a novella is great, and with a prologue and epilogue it leaves me with 16 chapters at 3k a chapter (18 if you aren’t a fan of the prologue epilogue). If you like smaller chapters you can break it down further. So a table for those feeling intimidated;
34 Chapters @ 1500 words per chapter
25 Chapters @ 2000 words per chapter
18 Chapters @ 3000 words per chapter
Anything longer than this can get intimidating and basically be a bit of a time suck that doesn’t evolve into anything useful. You want to keep the general story short, punchy and interesting enough so you can rewrite the scenes with more detail when its done.
How do you keep going?
ITS ONLY 1667 WORDS A DAY!
Break it down.
Make it up.
Stretch it out.
Fill it up.
Nano is about writing on weekends and busting out 10, 15, 20k words over a weekend. Its about writing 500 words at lunch, first thing before work in the morning, and putting aside TV/gaming binge time to write. With an outline, you put on the write tunes (ahaha… I’m so punny), and you write as much of the scene as possible. That’s what its there for, it’s a guide, and then a ladder, and then when you invariably fall off, (we all do), a crutch towards the end of the month. Sure the story might deviate, but it does keep you focused on writing.
But I have writers block!
No, you don’t.
Writers block is a big fat self-doubt lie!
Realistically, characters only have a couple of choices. Think of your story, if you will, as a choose your own adventure book. If you were watching a movie, and someone paused it, and asked you what happened next, you’d probably take a stab in the dark about it, wouldn’t you? Well, getting past writers block is the same. Take a stab at it… literally or figuratively, whataever works for you.
Here is another cool way to do, to make the outcome random, fun and interesting!
Work out what the choices are, and the make one even and one odd, and then roll a dice. Trust me, this works. If you aren’t certain, treat the dice (even/odd) like an eight ball;
“Do they go down the passage? Even = yes, odd = no.”
“When they get to the end of the passage, do the get lost (odd) or find their way (even)?”
“If they are lost, do they figure a way out (even), or do the need to be rescued (odd)?”
“If they are rescued, is it by an ally (odd), or a enemy (even)?”
This may not work exactly the way you had it in mind… but it does promise to at least shake the story up enough for you to keep going.
I am finding it hard to find time to write…
No you aren’t, you aren’t making time to write.
Sit down and schedule your day.
What time do you get up?
Can you get up earlier?
What are you doing at lunch? Can you type or write in a notebook?
What do you do when you get home?
IS there an activity you are doing which is basically a brain reset, like gaming or watching TV?
Doing those “relaxing” activities are fine, but break it up. So do half an hour of writing, 15 mins of TV or gaming, and pace yourself. All of a sudden you have your daily quota, and you can spend the rest of the time relaxing for the day.
You can make up writing time but also give yourself credit!
Some people don’t count, but if you’re dead set on 50k words then do count, but only at the end of the day, last thing before bed.
If you’re happy and making plans don’t worry.
If you aren’t, ask yourself this; did I do all I could to make writing time, and if the answer is yes, then do me a favour. Congratulate yourself. Finding time to write while working full time, especially with kids, absolutely sucks. If you can do it you are an amazingly hard working writer.
If you’ve given up for the day, and fallen a little behind schedule, make it up over the weekend.
But most importantly, if you love writing, and want to prove that you can do this, for yourself, make time to just do one very important thing.
Love the story, fall into its arms.
Let yourself go and see where the muse’s hand takes you.
You never know how far you’ll go…