Thursday, October 26, 2017

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: One Final Trick

November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. It's an entire month dedicated to writing, or, more specifically, to amassing fifty thousand words on an original novel. Last year, over 400,000 writers from around the world participated. The NaNo website helps you track your word count, provides regional support and chat boards, and allows you to "win" when you hit your 50,000-word goal. Every November, bookstores, coffee shops, and 24-hour diners fill up with writers - you can practically feel the creativity in the air! NaNo provides a great community, and it's a great motivation for starting or continuing a novel project. 2017 will be my seventh year tackling NaNo, and I can't wait to get started!

That said, there are a few ways to set yourself up in advance for NaNo success. We'll explore these each Thursday in October, so you'll be ready to hit the ground running on November 1st!

Writing every day for a month (or for long stretches of time over several days during the month) can be really tough. A lot of writers drop out of NaNo part-way through - the time commitment is nothing to sneeze at. And it can also feel disheartening when a project you started on November 1st begins getting bogged down around the middle. You might encounter writer's block, or just feel like your time could be better spent doing something else. You might open that Word doc, or your notebook, and get queasy at the idea of spending an hour or more working on your book.

But before you close that document or notebook, I want to give you one tip to help you keep writing when you really, really don't want to. It's a very simple tip, but it nearly always works.

End your day's writing in the middle of a sentence.

That's it. It doesn't even have to be an exciting, eventful sentence, though that never hurts. But it's so much easier to start writing each day when you know all you *have* to do is finish that darn sentence from the day before. Chances are, you'll do that, and then you'll keep going. Let's try it:

1) Katya couldn't believe her ears: had Emilio really professed his love for her? That's a complete thought. Where do you go from there? When you pick up the book the next day, you have to stay within the confines of Emilio's confession, whether you want to or not.

2) Katya couldn't believe That's an incomplete sentence and it can go a lot of different places. Maybe she couldn't believe her luck, or what had just happened, or in some aspect of her religion, or a million other things. The point is, when you're greeted with this sentence fragment on a new writing day, you have to get your creativity flowing right away to figure out what Katya couldn't believe. It's not hard to finish a sentence. And once you do, then you're already writing! You might as well keep going, right?

What do you do on days when you really just don't feel like writing?

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