As promised, here is my (unsolicited) advice for how you can survive NaNaWriMo next week.
1. Come up with an idea you can follow through on.
This is not the time to try and invent the next Hunger Games, because frankly, you won’t. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I won’t even write the next HG. Instead, focus on something you know. Draw from your past. Read your old journals. Maybe you had a really terrible high school experience-write about that. Maybe you’re an expert on dolphins- make that a part of your plot and your main character saves a beached dolphin. Maybe you read a shit ton of mysteries or romances- so write a damn mystery or romance. They both follow a basic formula. Or write a short story a day if a novel seems like too much work.
2. Meet your word count every day or as much as possible to keep stress minimal.
I know what you’re thinking, “But Danielle, I don’t even know what I’m writing about.” Let me tell you a secret: most of the time, neither do I. I just let the story take me where it wants. I’m merely the vehicle, the words are my driver. Just point and steer and you’ll have something. It’s only 1667 words a day. You can probably crank that out in two hours. Tivo Grey’ Anatomy and watch it only after you meet your word count. Otherwise it’ll be November 29th and you have 40,ooo words left to write and you’re giving yourself a panic attack.
3. If you miss a day or two, don’t sweat it.
1 day =1667 words
2 days = 3334 words
3 days =5001
I once missed six days in a row and then had several days where I managed to write over 5,000 words. Believe me, it’s possible, just break it down into manageable chunks. I know some people who just aim for 2,000 words a day just in case the miss a day a week (or decide to take a day off).
4. When in doubt use dialogue.
Dialogue picks up the pace of the story. It’s also an easy way to cram in a lot of words in a short amount of time. If you’re stuck, make your characters talk it out. You can add filler later if need be. Last year I was stuck and staring at my laptop while my dad and husband were taking tequila shots and watching a college football game. At that point in my story my protagonist was having Thanksgiving dinner with her boyfriend’s family and they were watching football. As my dad and dear husband yelled at the TV, I began to write what they were saying into my novel. Suddenly my characters were yelling at refs and arguing about the calls. Now I know nothing about football, but it was hilarious because they (my family) had no idea (at first) that I was
stealing borrowing their words. That night I totally hit my word count.
5. Borrow from your life.
This ties into #1. Since you’re writing about what you know, feel free to borrow things from your life. In last year’s novel, my characters went skinny dipping at night in a pool only to discover there was a snake in the pool (that happened to me). Also, as I mentioned before, my dog Mae West was having seizures and being diagnosed with epilepsy. Since my brain was already full of vet visits and dog drama, I worked that into my story.
Come back next Wednesday for tips #6-10.
Become my writing buddy on Nanowrimo.org. Find me under DRDSpice.
Go ahead and tack on your NaNoWiMo advice here, too.