As Nanowrimo approaches, there is a lot of buzz going around. I’ve read blog posts on things you need to do to accomplish writing your 50,000 words. That has ranged in everything from where you write and what you eat to mapping out your plot and working on your character development. I’ve also read posts on how anxious people are about hitting that word-goal. It takes a lot of time and dedication to get it done and is most definitely daunting!
Personally, I’ve done Nanowrimo four times and was a winner three of them because I ditched one year’s project to work on something else. I’ve also done the Nanorwimo style of writing (50,000 words in one month) to write three other books (not in November).
This isn’t to brag. It’s simply to let you know that the Nanowrimo style of writing has worked for me.
And there’s really only two things I’ve followed each time: the first is to focus on the word count; the second is to have fun.
It seems simple enough. And I honestly believe that it is.
Ultimately, the goal of Nanowrimo is 50,000 words, not a publishable book. It’s not even about writing a coherent book (no matter how much we would like that). It’s about getting the words down. Nothing more. And the best way to do that is to write down anything and everything that comes to us and to enjoy it while we do.
There are some simple tips and tricks to use to get the most out of your word count.
You could describe every little detail in a scene. And I mean EVERY LITTLE DETAIL. You could talk about the cracks in the paint on the walls, the dust gathering in the corner of a room, even what’s in drawers or cupboards.
You can have your characters reiterate things they say or ask for clarification. Those characters can then give lengthy answers or run off on tangents.
Or, and this is the one I’d suggest most, you can write about something happening in that world that might have nothing to do with your story line.
I used to do that a lot while I was writing Glory (my story of the apocalypse where 98% of the population turn into crazed killers), usually at those times when I didn’t know where the story was going or when I was simply tired and needed a change of scenery.
I looked at them as “snippets” and had no intention of using them in my book. Though, admittedly, I did use some of the ideas from those scenes. And, in one particular case, one person I wrote about became a major character in my book.
I remember it clearly. I had been sitting at my usual Starbucks in Korea (while I lived there), struggling to move on with my characters’ story, when the idea of writing about a woman running through the forest being chased by her crazed brother came to me.
After I wrote that scene, I was curious to see what was going to happen to her so I kept writing.
In the end, she took the story into a pretty dark direction (of the criticisms I’ve received, it’s what happens to her that seems to bother people the most). But she pushed the story forward in many ways.
Writing about her introduced new possibilities (tragedy and how to cope with it, forming friendships, a love interest) to the story. It also gave me the break I needed from the characters I had been writing about (the ones I had grown stale with). When I got further into her story (her name is Claire), I grew curious again to find out what was happening to the others (Adam and Jane). I had the energy to get back to them.
Yet, even if nothing had happened with Claire, writing those snippets always helped.
In addition to snippets, you can write from different perspectives.
Last night, I was speaking to my friend who wasn’t sure how she should approach her story. She has one character she’d like the plot to follow, but she’d like to know more about what the other characters thought. I told her to write from ALL of the perspectives she wants. It doesn’t mean that she’ll need to keep all of these perspectives when she publishes her book. She won’t even need to keep them in her first rewrite. It’ll simply give her better understanding into her story AND help her reach her word count.
Ultimately, the goal is the word count. 50,000 words in one month is a lot. So if we can find little ways to make that easier, we should. And, to me, the easiest ways are to write, write, write, and have fun (with very few expectations) while you’re doing it.
Let me know if there are any other tips and tricks you have for reaching the 50,000 word goal. And follow me on Nanowrimo so we can check out each other’s progress as November moves on. My ID is miomc. Or you can follow me here.