Thursday, 31 October 2013

Preparing for Nanowrimo (Part 4)

Have you:
  • Written your novel plan?
  • Thought about your first 1667 words tomorrow?
  • Connected with similarly crazy folk on the Nano site to be your writing buddies?
  • Bought enough food for the month?
  • Tidied the house within an inch of its life?
  • Completed the washing and ironing and have enough clothes to last until the end of November?
  • Talked to the dog about the fact that he/she can only use the garden for 30 days?
  • Sent your kids to your in-laws?
  • Set your alarm to get up an hour earlier each day?
  • Told your boss not to expect too much this month?
  • Made a giant casserole that will last you 30 days during November?
  • Cancelled any commitments you had?
  • Told your friends you'll see them in December?
  • Stocked up on beautiful new notebooks?
  • Written down the emergency number of another author - just in case?
  • Downloaded Scrivener or another writing tool for your computer?
  • Disconnected from Facebook, Twitter and any other distracting sites?
  • Turned off the Internet?
  • Put motivational messages around your computer or house?
  • Stocked up on coffee, biscuits and writing snacks?
  • Bought a bumper pack of pens?
  • Tidied your desk or writing space?
  • Phoned the local coffee house to ensure they have enough coffee over the next 30 days?
If you've answered yes to all or some of the above, you're ready or as ready as you'll ever be.

Let the madness begin!

Preparing for Nanowrimo (Part 3)

One of the main purposes of Nanowrimo is to encourage you to get words down on a page and at the end of 30 days to have accomplished at least 50,000 words of your novel. Remember, however, that these words do not have to be perfect. This is your opportunity to write your first draft without worrying too much about whether you've selected an ideal word or sentence to portray what you want to get across. 

You have to be able to switch off your inner editor (which is easier said than done) and focus instead on writing down the words. As Neil Gaiman says:

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It's that easy, and that hard.”

If you let your editor get involved in the Nano process, this can be a real distraction from writing. So in this instance you have to practice letting go. It really is quantity over quality. But how can you let go of your editor if you're always used to him or her looking over your shoulder.  Like a lot of things, it can be as simple as being aware of it. Once you are aware that your editor is present, tell him or her to go away. Advise that they're not needed at this point, but come December, they will be welcome once more. During November, you may even wish to wear a band on your wrist. Each time your editor appears, ping the band to remind you to let go. Or perhaps put a note on your screen or in your notebook that reads: 'Editor - be gone' or whatever appeals to you.

When I successfully completed Nanowrimo back in 2011, my writing was all over the place. There were chapters missing, lots of tell, not show and the final chapter didn't have an ending. But I certainly had fun along the way. I wrote scenes that I enjoyed writing and introduced random characters who aren't in the current version of my novel and ate cakes and drank coffee with other writers at least once a week. And when I reached my target on day 30, writing 10,000 words in the last two days, and the final chapter wasn't finished, I didn't care. I submitted my words and printed off my certificate - proud of what I'd achieved.

So simply throw yourself into Nano. Write without that critical voice reading over your shoulder, write it down, rather than being worried about getting it right. Here's your opportunity to write with absolute abandon and most importantly enjoy it and have some fun along the way.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Preparing for Nanowrimo (Part 2)

Right let's get straight to the point - the Nanowrimo site is a fabulous resource during the month of November. There are genre specific forums on which you can ask questions, seek advice and connect with others writing similar material. There are also the regional forums in which you can liaise with others in your area also undertaking Nano and celebrate your successes on reaching targets or alternatively get a kick up the backside if you're not cutting it. In addition, you will receive updates and motivational messages from Nano HQ. It's all there right at your fingertips. And there in lies the problem, it's right there at your fingertips - rather than your fingertips being on the keyboard typing your manuscript. I think you know what I'm saying.

Then add Twitter into the equation, checking your Facebook page and the time you need to review your emails and suddenly great swathes of time are eaten up and you're wondering why you're behind on word count when surely you've been writing all day.  In fact, no you've not been writing all day, you've been reading about writing all day.

It is a lot of fun being part of this marvellous Nanowrimo community and I found it to be a hugely supportive and encouraging place. But, it is also a massive distraction from writing and if you're like me, it doesn't take much to distract you from the task of writing. Did you just say - biscuit? Oops there I go again...

So, have a think about when you'll visit the Forums and get involved with Twitter. Will you be someone who only connects once you're written the 1667 words per day? Will you discipline yourself to visit only first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Yes, I thought that too, but then it creeps up on you. Perhaps I'll just go on to update my word count, perhaps I'll just check out how my writing buddies are doing and before you know it, you're back in.

My plan this year is to head to my local library to write.  They currently have no Wifi available and so once you're there, you really are committed to writing. The only downside is that there's no coffee or muffins either - darn it!

I understand that there are a variety of Internet and website blocking software packages that you can install which switch off the Internet on your computer for a certain period of time. I've not ever used these. I've always been a bit paranoid that I might not ever be able to switch it back on again, but that probably says more about me than anything else.

So as with most things, it's all about balance. Do use the Nanowrimo site to encourage and support you, particularly as there are likely to be days when you really need that support - usually for me around day 12 once the novelty has worn off. But do remember that you can switch it off too or at least limit your use and participation.

If you want to get more actively involved, head to one of the regional write-ins and actual meet some writers in the same situation as you. That way you can have a coffee, eat cake, discuss your characters and plot issues but most importantly you'll also write while you're there!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Preparing for Nanowrimo (Part1)

They say there's a book in all of us.  Nanowrimo gives us an opportunity to prove that. However, if you've decided to give it a go, this year, there are some things to consider.

Having undertaken Nanowrimo for the past two years, the first year successfully and the second not, there are some things that I have learnt along the way that I thought I'd share with you. And of course if you've done Nano yourself I'd love to hear from you. It would be great if you'd share what worked for you and what didn't. Plus of course I'd love to engage with you generally on this Blog.  So far I've received zero comments.  It's pretty lonely here - come on someone, let me know you're out there and reading this!

Anyway back to the original subject - firstly, remember that committing to writing 1667 words every day for 30 days is manageable. However, you might want to think about what other things you'll  need to sacrifice in order to achieve it, particularly if you are working full-time, running a family, have a life etc. It's a pretty easy equation to work out. In order to say yes to Nano, you may well have to say no to dinner out with a friend one evening.  In order to say yes to a walk on a sunny November afternoon, you may well have to say no to Nano.  See simples!

You might also wish to consider what's the best time of day for you to write. Perhaps getting up an hour earlier each day during the dark mornings of November works for you (it sounds crazy to me but hey everyone's different). Or perhaps you're a night hawk and choose to stay up at night once the rest of the household is in bed.  Give some consideration to when you believe is a good time for you to write. If you can get into a routine, this will help. After all most writers will tell you, the best way to become a prolific writer is to write every day. If you read Stephen King's book 'On Writing', he states:

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut."

Undertaking Nanowrimo at least gets you half way there - well for 30 days anyway.

So that's it for today. To summarise, I think undertaking Nanowrimo is like starting lots of new projects in life. Are you committed fully to it or is it something you hope to slot into your life? Have a think about what's going on for you in November and consider what sacrifices you might need to make whether that be not doing some of the things you usually do or sacrificing an hour in bed each morning to ensure you get up and write.

If you're in, I wish you well and hope to see you here again.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Nanowrimo 2013

So we are only a matter of days away from the start of another month of crazed, edit-free writing as part of Nanowrimo. For those of you who don't know what it is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and it's an opportunity to write 50,000 words of your novel during the month of November. Yes, you did hear me right - 50,000 words. I know it sounds a lot but you can do it and thousands of people do each and every November. Nanowrimo encourages you simply to write 1,667 words each day. It doesn't want you to re-read and edit your work. It doesn't want you to keep going over chapter 1 again and again to ensure that it really is your very best work. No, it just wants you to write each day and tell your internal editor to shut up.

If you sign up to Nanowrimo, you can:
  • add in how many words you've written each day to keep on track (and the site will tell you just how far behind you are should that happen - which it has to me each year), 
  • get distracted from writing by visiting the forums and discussing all sorts of writerly topics 
  • you can also meet up with other writers undertaking the project in your area
There's probably lots more that you can do too, but these tend to have been the three aspects that I've used most on the site.

It is a fantastic opportunity to forget all the rules of writing and just write for the  sheer hell of it and it's also a lot of fun.

I've signed up for another year. Why don't you join me? You can find out all the details by checking out Nanowrimo

Hope to see you on the forums.