Lyla Campbell
I'm now deep into day four of NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, I didn't get that epic start I was hoping for this year. The choir I sing with had a concert the night of Nov. 1 and I was in desperate need of a nap earlier that afternoon. As a result of a slow start out of the gate, coupled with my word count generator being sluggish on Monday, I've had some major catching up to do. Today I had a revelation of sorts about how writing works best for me when I'm in a time crunch. (NaNoWriMo is a time crunch in and of itself even if you're on schedule with your word count. Being behind like I am right now makes it that much crunchier) So if you're in the same boat as I am, trying to make up for the time you lost while you were just hangin around, shootin dice,.The things I've learned about my writing process may be of help to you as well. Hopefully you can take something away from my lessons learned.

Over the past four days of chasing down the elusive daily word count goal, I've discovered short spurts of writing are more productive for me than one long writing binge. Simply put: I have to pace myself. A previous writing instructor of mine said that one of the best ways to pace yourself is set a timer for 15 minutes (give or take a few), write like a fiend until time is up, then take a break, and start the process all over again. Write, Rinse, and Repeat. This method is especially effective for racking up large word counts on the weekends. If I don't pace myself, I'll burn hot and fast on a Saturday morning, but then in the afternoon, no amount of caffeine will revive my motivation.

If the growth rate of your word count starts to slow down even if you're pacing yourself properly, try skipping to another part of your story. Last year I started in the middle of my story line and jumped around day to day. I wrote on whatever piece tickled my fancy that day. Then I spent the last week of NaNoWriMo 2008 connecting the dots between each portion of the plot to finish out the story arc. Remember! Julie Andrews was wrong. Starting at the beginning isn't necessarily the very best place to start. Write the scene you're just dying to get to, the one that inspired the whole story line in the first place. In that same vein, fight the urge to write in a straight line like we were taught in grated school. Writing about what you're in the mood to write about will help the words flow more easily and make NaNoWriMo less stressful. Writing should feel easy, kind of like a monkey driving a speedboat.

If by some miracle I'm able to meet my word count goal for that day, I go back over what I've written so far and I embellish. One thing I've notice about my first drafts is that they read a lot like a screen play with nothing more than dialogue/inner monologue, emotions paired with that dialogue, and actions of the characters. Honestly my prose are a tad bit on the dry narrative side the first time around. But by going back and elaborating on the way something smells, or how candle light changes the appearance of a room, I take the story from black and white to color. The point is to paint a picture, not just innumerate the events on a time line. In the process of adding-on, DELETE NOTING!!! If you delete...you're editing. And editing is not allowed until midnight on Nov. 30th.

Finally, when all else fails, just write something. Write ANYTHING. It doesn't matter how craptastic it is. The NaNoWriMo word count validator will not judge you. Keep that word count coming people!
1 Response
  1. Hey Lyla. I like your advice. I've realized a lot about my writing too. I used to write in short spurts here and there, but it was never enough time for me to keep going. I have to write for at least an hour, and that's worked for me. Not necessarily writing from the beginning is great advice. I've skipped around a bit, and it helps me to get unstuck.
    I also am determined to write at least 2000 words per day. If I get behind, it's not a good thing. I have to keep my morale up and my determination in the front leading this race.

    I did NaNoWriMo back in 2005 (which I talk about at www.thewritingland.com) and I fell flat on my face, but I've learned a lot since then from Larry Brook's www.storyfix, among other things.

    I am ILove2Write on NaNo, so buddy up with me if you like. Keep writing and sharing.


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