Friday, November 03, 2006

How To Thrive in the Month of NaNoWriMo

It's National Novel Writing Month and participants have one goal and one goal only: to write 50,000 words before midnight of Nov. 30th. If you want my advice, here it is:

1. Write in the voice that God gave you. Forget about grammatically correct sentences that would please your seventh grade English teacher (it worked for Dalton Trumbo). Forget about writing the Great American Novel (there is no such thing). But how do you know what your own voice sounds like? Well if you had a really juicy bit of gossip, how would you write it in email?

2. It's not about writing about what will be good enough to sell; it's about getting under the skin of your characters and finding out what they'll do next. Trust me, the cool thing about being an unpublished author is that no one has any expectations. You don't have to worry about deadlines, what your agent or editor will think, orders and sales numbers. You have complete creative freedom. I'm grateful for my success and all the challenges that come with it. But I'm telling ya, enjoy the freedom while it lasts.

Then again, if you're Stephen King you can do whatever the hell you want.

3. Do not banish a new idea that comes out of left field. That's a sign that your characters are taking over the book and that is when it starts to get juicy. To read my personal experience, go here.

4. TiVo or video tape your favorite shows. You'll need something to get you through re-runs in December anyway.

5. Keep up the momentum. Writing can be like exercise: when you skip one workout, it takes a month to go back.

6. If you commute to work, carry a tape recorder or notebook to capture those bursts of inspiration. I wrote an estimated one-eighth of Hot Tamara in my reporter's notebook while working for the LA Times.

7. Remember NaNoWriMo's motto: quantity over quality! Just write. Don't go back and agonize over every word. Tell your inner editor and critic to shut up and let the storyteller in you thrive.


Girl*wander said...

Great tips. I can appreciate your advice to use TiVo for my favorite shows - that damn TV seems to suck me in night after night.

Unknown said...

Hi Mary! Love your suggestions.

I decided to go back to writing long-hand to participate in NaNoWriMo. It makes counting words and pages nearly impossible, but it has given me complete freedom from the urge to edit.

Though archaic, it's my own form of "automatic writing." Transcribing my handwritten pages into the computer becomes my second draft. However, I can't wait too long to do this. If it's not fresh in my head, I can't make sense of my hastily scrawled chicken scratches. ggg

Bethany Hiitola said...

Have any tips for catching up on 12,000 words? ;-)