Thousands of writers have joined the chaos of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) with the goal to write 50,000 words during the month of November. NaNo can be a great motivator, as we all cheer each other on and watch our word count increase. I’ve completed two books during NaNo and will be finishing a third this year, so it can help our writing.
But NaNo doesn’t always work well. We might:
If this describes you, you’re not alone. We’ve probably all been stymied by these problems at some point, so that means help is out there. *smile* We’re just at the beginning of NaNo, so the time to fix these issues is now—before we’re too far behind to reach our goal.
That can be a trick question for some of us. Sometimes we think we don’t have the time or brainpower to write, and really the problem is procrastination. There’s a difference between real obstacles to writing (new babies, new jobs, and new stresses) and obstacles that let us make excuses.
In other words, do we have to solve our external conflict (rearranging our obligations to fit in writing time)? Or do we have solve our internal conflict (fixing our lack of motivation—which the group aspect of NaNo can help with)?
Either way, we won’t know what’s holding us back until we analyze our situation. Once we have a better understanding of what’s keeping us busy, we’ll know what to attack. As writers, we often suffer from self-doubt, and that means we often walk a fine line between setting realistic goals and feeling guilty because we can’t do everything we think we should.
These four tips I discovered the first time I did NaNo might help us either way:
Don’t worry about winning or what others are doing. I’ve seen friends jump out of the gate on November 1 like the hare in the fable, and sometimes they burn out before the end. We each need to find what works for us and repeat the mantra: “Some words are better than no words.” *smile*
It’s not always as simple as just wanting an answer to making it pop into our head. Brainstorming often happens when we’re not at our computer. When our mind wanders, that’s often when our subconscious can mull ideas and let us know what it’s been doing for us in the background. But that’s not the only way to come up with answers.
Here’s a list of ways we can trigger our muse:
The fast pace of NaNo sometimes means that we might put words on a page that we know we’ll have to delete later. Maybe we’re going off on a tangent, or maybe our story just isn’t making sense. Let’s take a look at how to make sure our story doesn’t end up a “hot mess.”
Hot Mess: A story with no overall arc; feels like random bits and pieces thrown together; plot events happen for no rhyme or reason; characters don’t grow; story themes undermine the story’s goals, etc. (i.e. a revision nightmare).
Before we get too deep into that mess of a story, let’s see if we can fix our idea with a bit of planning—at least of the kind of planning that will help us the most.
Need Plot Help?
If we’re better at making up characters as we go along, we might want to plan some of the main story turning points.
We can plan a lot more, obviously, but that gives us a starting point and an ending point. That Point A and Point B will give us a direction as we write.
Need Character Help?
On the other hand, if we’re better at making up scenes and plot points as we go along, we might want to plan the character arc. That means we have to know the character’s Point A and Point B.
Some people find character arcs harder to “see” because they’re more mental than physical. But in character terms, Point A and Point B means we have to know their destination (what they want) and their beginning (what’s holding them back).
Hopefully with those tips, we’ll all be able to make progress in our writing this month. Happy writing!
Are you doing NaNo? How have the first couple of days gone for you? If you’ve struggled, do these tips give you any ideas? Is there something else holding you back that wasn’t covered here?
After triggering the vampire/werewolf feud with an errant typo, Jami Gold moved to Arizona and decided to become a writer, where she could put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fortunately, her muse, an arrogant male who delights in making her sound as insane as possible, rewards her with unique and rich story ideas.
Fueled by chocolate, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales that range from dark to humorous, but one thing remains the same: Normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.
About Ironclad Devotion:
A faerie princess evading her fate…
Earth is no place for a faerie, but Kira can’t go home without dooming her people. Desperate to avoid the pull of her homeland, she fosters an abandoned girl, the child’s joy a source of much-needed energy.
A blacksmith with something to prove…
When Zachary Chase discovers he has a daughter, he’s determined to be part of his child’s life and not repeat his mother’s neglect. But to open the little girl’s heart, he must earn her foster mother’s trust.
One night is never enough…
Despite their rivalry, Kira and Zac’s desires tempt them into one no-consequences night. Yet the more passion flares between them, the more Kira risks destroying the life she’s carved out on Earth—and endangering those she cares about in both worlds.
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