There is nothing better than finding people who share your passion and doing something together. That is what National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is all about. I participated last November and pulled off over 90,000 words of Surviving the Stillness’s rough draft. It was exhilarating. The goal of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This is no small feat for any writer. It takes discipline and commitment. So last year, I went in blind and wrote my heart out. But this year, I am preparing to go in and pull of another first draft, but this time I want to come out with a much more solid product. So here are the 10 ways I’m preparing for NaNo this month.
1. I am taking advice from Writing.com and using October to think about the details of my book. This is where I went wrong last year. All I had when I started were four characters stuck in a Catholic orphanage and a basic idea of how they encountered one another. So when I sat down to write each day, I spent most of my time thinking about what should happen next instead of writing. PLANNING is key to having productive writing time.
2. I am using SCRIVENER instead of MS Word. I cannot tell you how much time in the past year I’ve spent highlighting and creating new documents to rearrange content in Word. When you have 90k words and you decide that something on page 200 needs to go back to page 30, you have to cut and paste, and then work the content into the new scene placement. It is hard to remember where any particular scene is and you end up scrolling or using the find feature constantly. Among other features, Scrivener lets you write individual scenes and look at them in either a note card or outline format. Instead of 200 pages you have 30-60 short scene titles to browse through. You can even color code them for easier identification and label them with which stage they’re in (rough draft, 2nd draft, etc). Oh and did I mention this fantastic program is only $40?
3. I’m using K.M. Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel and her Scrivener template that goes along with it. Having a good PLOT STRUCTURE thought out beforehand is like laying tracks for a train. If you don’t have to keep stopping to build tracks you can keep up momentum. I’m putting all of the things Writing.com suggests right into her template in Scrivener. These 3 things work very seamlessly together. *If you are a writer and aren’t familiar with Weiland’s website, there is a wealth of information that can help you perfect your craft.*
4. I’m doing RESEARCH. As a historical fiction writer I have to know my history, but every genre has something that needs research. I use Pinterest to find visual aids for scenes, characters, setting. While I often Google subjects, I also rely heavily on my library for biographies and non-fiction books on a range of topics that are in my work.
6. I’m READING other author’s work. As a writer you have to be a reader. You have to know what good and bad stories sound like. I am attempting to read 10 novels in 30 days each by a different author in my genre. Not only does this let me see what readers that are likely to read my book are reading but it also lets me get an ear and a mindset for what works and doesn’t work.
7. I have a WRITING JAR to keep me motivated. This was actually something my 5th grade teacher used to use. She’d take a big old handful of Hershey Kisses when we were good and put them in a jar. When the jar was full she split them among the students. I mentioned the idea on our writers group and it took off, thanks to my fellow writer Vickie Miller. You can more about how we are rewarding ourselves for writing in her article, Writing Jar, and join us on FB and Twitter with #WriteJar.
8. I have WRITING BUDDIES on NaNo. I belong to two writing groups and between them, I’ve found people to buddy up with during NaNo. There is nothing like accountability to keep you writing. Not only that, but there are local groups that regularly meet up and encourage each other to write through writing events or challenges.
9. I’m committing to putting up finished scenes/chapters up on Scribophile. Scribophile is a critique forum. Through my writing group, I can get regular FEEDBACK on what is working and not working. By doing this during NaNo, I can catch weak characters or scenes that don’t progress the story before I’ve finished the first draft.
10. I am DEDICATING TIME. This is the true key to success in NaNo. You can’t write if you don’t reserve time to do it. So I will be getting up at 5:00 so I have two hours of uninterrupted writing time.
Are you doing NaNo? If so what are you doing to prepare?