I’m not quite sure how many nanowrimos I’ve done. I first heard of the fun crazy challenge in 2002 or 2003 from a friend in London. I’ve done at least four, I can remember.
My profile is from my days as a closet writer and apparently you can’t change your profile name. So find me under madolescent.
Nanowrimo taught me how to vomit draft.
Now I don’t get writer’s block, I keep on writing and writing. Filling the page with words even though it’s rubbish and sometimes it feels like I’m only typing.
But this way, the words get down and somehow in amongst the rabid typing, the magic happens.
Are you in?
Tips on writing and quotes from famous writers are everywhere. I think most advice boils down to “sit there and write. Every day.”
But that’s easier than it sounds, it’s like “eat less, move more.” Easy in theory, but a different story when it’s chocolate o’clock. Writing challenges help me with discipline and build my daily writing habit.
I started with Nanowrimo – write a 50,000 word novel in November. This initially helped me to get into the habit of “vomit drafting”, just blurting it all out, writing without the inner critic and getting those words and thoughts down on the page. But a target of 1,667 per day is not sustainable in the long term for me. Nowadays Nanowrimo is not just for November, there are regular challenges throughout the year and for other forms. I’ve written four novels in Nanowrimos.
My current favourite is Monthly Writing Twitter Challenge with a target of 500 words per day or 1 hour editing. This is an achievable target without feeling overwhelming. And over the month, even with the minimum 500 words, I can amass at least 15,000 words. It’s a simple challenge with a great supportive community on Twitter and it was originally inspired by Dr Who! Join us and sign up for March!
The challenges keep me accountable, motivated and give me a sense of achievement.
What are your tips for building writing discipline?
It’s almost the half way point of Nanowrimo. Can you hear the constant clatter of fingers on keys and foreheads banging against desks?
Time for a bit of reflection. What have I learnt from Nanowrimo this time round?
- Writing takes priority. I don’t have time for the community stuff.
I’d like to get to know my fellow Nano-ers, visit the message boards and attend the local events, but I’ve got a full-time job and only a limited time to squeeze in my 1667 words per day. There’s no room left for the community stuff. Sorry.
- Some days are hard
And in other breaking news, the sky is blue and the sea is made of water. Everyone knows it’s hard. Some days, it’s all picnics, unicorns and rainbows. Other days, as I tweeted, it’s like extracting an oddly shaped nobbly object from my arse. The lesson is persistence.
- Knowing your characters saves time
My Nanowrimo project is book 2 of my Monolith series. So, I already know my main characters and my world inside out. This saves time, I don’t need to stop to think how they react or their motivations. I’m visiting old friends. This feels a bit like cheating, but in a good smug way.
- If I can write in the midst of a house renovation, I can write anywhere anytime
There’s drilling, sawing and tradesmen all around me. I’m writing from a space at the end of the kitchen counter next to the fridge. If I can write in this mess, I can write anywhere. Headphones are a wonderful device. I don’t need a perfectly decorated writing room with the inspirational view to get my project out.
What have you learnt from your Nanowrimo so far?
It’s the last few days of October. This means it’s almost Nanowrimo time!
I can’t even remember when I first started Nanowrimo (at least 10 years ago) and I have won at least twice. But done nothing with it (see previous post).
For me, a successful Nanowrimo is all about the discipline. Not the fun kind with riding crops, but the boring kind.
Here are my 7 uncool tips for a successful Nanowrimo vomit draft.
- Consistency – yes, discipline is boring and unsexy but you can’t get around it. Commit to your 1667 words per day. Do it every day for a month.
- Be a hermit/shut-in – what’s more important, giving birth to your awesome novel or going out for drinks with people you don’t really like to places you hate? Tell your friends you’ll see them in December.
- Unplug – the TV, the internet… out out damned distraction. Do you really need to see another video of a quirky cat or a teenage boy cracking his knackers on a stair rail?
- Go with the flow – if you are having a good writing day, just let it keep going. Weekends (if you are M-F 9-5 like me) are great to get bulk words down. This gets you ahead for the days when life gets in the way
- Preparation – I’m a plotter. I do love a spreadsheet or a Gantt chart. My tip is plot as much as you can now. Then if you get stuck or have exhausted a storyline, you’ve got somewhere to go.
- Just keep writing – you get a mental blank spot, just keep writing. Even if it’s garbage, a story will appear as you keep typing. Sometimes it’s your best idea ever.
- Don’t reread your previous work – don’t look down, just keep going. You can reread and edit in December. November is about quantity not quality.
- Be kind to yourself – there’s always December. Or 2015.
Hope this helps you and Happy Nano-ing!