During my NaNoWriMo adventure, I learned a few useful tips that will help my writing ongoing. I share them below:
Carry a notepad everywhere:
I find that inspiration strikes at the most random of times, and being unable to write down those ideas was torture, for I would inevitably forget them later.
I therefore learned to keep a notepad by my bed, in my handbag, in the glove compartment of my car. You get the picture.
A list of plot points is my best friend (sorry, Toby!):
When it comes to writing consistently, I learned that having a list of plot points to refer to is a lifesaver.
When I started the challenge at the beginning of November, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to write: a story that I’ve had in mind for over 6 years, ‘Dragonspire.’
Some people work best without a plan. I usually do myself, so I just started writing.
However with NaNoWriMo, I found that, without a plan, I ran out of steam rapidly. I fell into a slump somewhere around week 2, fell behind, and considered giving up.
Then, one day in the park, I scribbled down a list of plot points in my notebook: things that would happen in the story, and the order that they would happen in.
I typed up my list, and I was much more focused after that:
That list of plot points prompted my writing each day, gave me an indication of what I had to write next, and saved my NaNoWriMo from becoming a train wreck.
Word Sprints are fun, and useful: You don’t have to write every day to win!
A word sprint is a timed writing challenge: set a time limit and write until the time is up.
I set 15 minutes, picked one of my plot points, and wrote. I then took a five minute break, usually just enough time to make a cup of tea, before I started another sprint.
A useful timer is here: http://nanowrimo.org/word_sprints
During NaNoWriMo, I did six sprints on the days that I worked on my novel (4 days a week) and usually managed about 500 words a sprint. You don’t have to write every day to win!
I also spent some time at the 15 minute word wars! thread in the forums for NaNoWriMo, where you can write together and motivate each other.
I could probably sit at my desk and sprint all day, although I tend to lose momentum after about 2 hours. Which brings me onto my next point…
Always stop before you lose momentum:
If I force myself to write until I burn out, when I come back to my writing the next day I sometimes can’t find my motivation.
If I stop writing when I am still interested, when I know that I have slowed down a little, but still want to write more, I know that my motivation will be much easier to find again the next day!
This has been one of the biggest lessons that I have learned.
Write. Just write.
Every time I stopped to think about what I had written, or read back over a paragraph, I alternated between hating it, trying to correct it, or getting distracted by reading my own work.
For me, the first draft is strictly for getting ideas down. No editing. No fussing with it.
A first draft will never be perfect. NaNoWriMo has taught me to embrace this and just write!
When I finished my 50000 words, I felt so happy that I had completed the challenge.
I also felt overwhelmed, because now that I had finished, what now? What would I do without the goal of 50000 words in a month hanging around over my shoulder and driving me to write?
First draft? It’s barely half done! (Keep writing)
For me, NaNoWriMo marked the beginning of the journey, not the beginning, middle, and end.
I have barely scratched the surface of what I now have planned for my novel. I have written 56000 words so far, and my main character hasn’t been exiled from his village yet.
My next step is to continue writing until the story is done. I will have my work cut out for me in the editing stage if I continue to write so much for each scene!
Some of you may have finished your story during NaNoWriMo. When mine is done, I plan to take a break, by plotting my next project, and then begin the editing process.
Until the final draft is complete, there is always more work to be done!
Stay connected with other writers. Motivate each other, sprint together, chat together.
If you want news of all free writing events, follow: https://twitter.com/writevent
There are prompts, events, competitions, and more!
If you want to connect with other writers after NaNoWriMo, check out:
Sign up before it closes on the 30th November, midnight PST.
If you want to follow my life after NaNo journey, and see excerpts of my novel as it progresses, feel free to follow my blog, or twitter: https://twitter.com/DragonspireUK
I’m always happy to connect with other writers!
I will be launching a couple of regular writing features soon, but I also blog about The Flash, Arrow, and other TV and games that I love! In fact I think as a reward for winning NaNoWriMo, I may buy Final Fantasy 15!
I salute everyone who has participated in NaNoWriMo, whether you have written one word, or 50000+
What are your top tips? Learned anything interesting during NaNoWriMo? Feel free to share in the comments below 🙂