Oct 31 2009

Beat your writer’s block, NaNoWriMo authors!

Published by at 5:25 pm under Writer's Block,Writing Articles

If you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month, here are some tips you might find helpful.

1.  Don’t ever tell yourself “that isn’t good enough.” You’re only writing a draft.  It doesn’t need to be perfect, or even readable– it’s just a draft!  Forget “that isn’t good enough.”  Let “save it for rewrite” be your mantra.

2.  Don’t get hung up on research.  In fact, I’d recommend against doing any research during the first draft of most fiction.  (If you’re writing historical fiction for publication, that’s definitely an exception).

3.  Remove any distractions from your writing space.  If you find that the computer itself is a distraction, try writing by hand.

4.  Set aside a time for writing. For example, set a timer for an hour every day and use that time only for writing.  The boredom of being able to do nothing else will make you productive.  Or severely deranged.  However, my experiences suggest that productivity is the more likely outcome.

5.  Some writers respond well to daily page quotas. For example, “I’m going to write at least two pages every day” or whatever.   To complete NaNoWriMo, you need to write 1700 words (~6 pages) a day.  Year-round, I’d recommend that aspiring authors write at least a page a day.  That’ll give you a draft of a comic book script in a month or a novel manuscript in a year.

6.  I wouldn’t recommend having people review your work. You’re writing a draft!  The more you think of this as a finalized product that needs to be fit for public consumption, the harder it will be to finish your pages.

7.  However, you may find it useful to ask for plot suggestions. How can I get from event A to event B?  What are some other ways I might introduce characters A and B?  What are some plausible explanations for Dr. Nefario’s burning hatred of jellybeans?

24 responses so far

24 Responses to “Beat your writer’s block, NaNoWriMo authors!”

  1. Wingson 31 Oct 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Thank. You.

    *hands enormous plate of cookies*

    – Wings, the Officially Terrified One

  2. B. Macon 31 Oct 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Don’t let NNWM terrify you! Deadlines are only deadlines when money or teammates are involved. 😉

  3. Holliequon 31 Oct 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Remember, the folks at the NaNo forums are always willing to help out with plot problems (we are too, come to think of it!)

    And, if all else fails, have something explode. That will keep you going for a few more pages.

    ~Hollie, 2.5k and counting.

  4. Luna Jamniaon 31 Oct 2009 at 7:45 pm

    Oh golly … thank you so much for this, B. Mac! ^^
    I love encouragement and good tips.

  5. Marissaon 31 Oct 2009 at 8:53 pm

    1667 per day, actually. I memorized the whole calender, and can list the word counts needed for each of the thirty days. Ahh, boredom in college.

    Meanwhile, I’ve got something like 12k to write per day to hit my goal. Wish me luck!

  6. Wingson 01 Nov 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Meep…I’ll get to work…

    *stares at computer*

    – Wings

  7. Wingson 01 Nov 2009 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve done it!

    *gestures madly at the Novel Info on http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/514025 *

    707 words in maybe half an hour…It doesn’t sound like much, but for me that’s one (albeit short) complete chapter!

    Excuse me…Having a moment here…*sniffle*

    – Wings

  8. Roon 01 Nov 2009 at 5:36 pm

    How much does this program charge? or is it free?

  9. Wingson 01 Nov 2009 at 5:38 pm

    It’s free, but it does require a lot of time.

    – Wings

  10. Roon 01 Nov 2009 at 6:09 pm

    I think I’ll get in on it next time.

  11. Wingson 02 Nov 2009 at 3:33 pm

    1602 words yesterday…my typing program refuses to cooperate today though…curses…

    – Wings

  12. Beccaon 08 Nov 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Grrr… I was away for the first five days of NaNo so now I have ~5000 words when I should have 13000 today. Time to despair. But even if I don’t finish in 30 days, I can keep going. I just won’t get another shiny badge on the NaNo website 🙁

  13. Wingson 08 Nov 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I feel you, Becca. Only have about 6000 words. Curse my controlling parents…

    – Wings

  14. Merideson 08 Nov 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Found this site THROUGH Nano, so it’s a wonderful thing… I feel miserable today, though, and may not make my wordcount. 17.k and counting!

  15. Ragged Boyon 08 Nov 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Unfortunately, I had to drop out before the beginning of the competition. I don’t like November for NanoWriMo, it doesn’t fit well into a high school seniors’ schedule of applying for colleges and writing essays. Maybe next year, though. *Sigh* Would’ve been fun. Enjoy everyone else!

  16. Luna Jamniaon 09 Nov 2009 at 10:51 am

    I’m at a lil’ over 15k but it’s not counting my words right, I have more in Word than when it ‘validates’ my wordcount. And I’ve only been writing 1k a day for a while … because I share this computer with mom and 4 brothers. >.>

    My plot is nonexistent. It’s all drama stuff, when I finally decided to try and force it into the direction it’s supposed to be going; a bro wanted to use the computer so I had to quit.
    It’s so frustrating! Hopefully next year there won’t be so much drama and confusion and the plot will show up when it’s supposed to.

  17. B. Macon 09 Nov 2009 at 2:49 pm

    My sister also shared a computer with four brothers. None of us got on much. 😉

  18. Luna Jamniaon 09 Nov 2009 at 4:16 pm

    It’s making me desperately wish I had a job (shtupid economy) and I miss my laptop very much.
    If it’s not weird to miss an inanimate object.

    Tithe, pay off loan, buy laptop, save! In that order. If I had money.

  19. B. Macon 09 Nov 2009 at 10:39 pm

    If you have US citizenship, a college degree and a willingness to take on a really unglorious position, the government is always hiring…

  20. B. Macon 11 Nov 2009 at 6:50 am

    If the stress of cranking out 200 pages over the course of a month isn’t helping, then I would recommend reverting to a regular writer’s schedule (at least seven pages a week– that’s just one page a day). That pace would give you a first draft of a manuscript within a year. I would recommend thinking of NaNoWriMo as a means to an end (productivity) rather than the end itself. If it isn’t working for you, try something else.

    Also, I wonder why they picked November for NaNoWriMo. I don’t think it suits students well because we have to prepare for finals in December and sometimes midterms in early November. Many (most?) Americans spend at least 3 days traveling or otherwise hanging out with family over Thanksgiving weekend. (I kid you not, I will be the senior staffer in my usually 10-person office on the day after Thanksgiving– everyone else is out with family but I’ve already used my off days). The only type of people that really benefit from it being in November are campaign staff– most US elections are held on the first Tuesday of November, giving them most of the month to celebrate (or drown their sorrows) after months of 60-80 hour weeks. I’d much rather do NNWM in July– that gives students and teachers a better opportunity to participate. (And, with all due respect to campaign staff, there are a lot more students and teachers).

  21. Wingson 12 Nov 2009 at 5:36 pm

    I’m on a computer ban and can only get on at school. 🙁

  22. B. Macon 12 Nov 2009 at 11:26 pm

    Hmm. I could think of three ways to do NNWM without the ability to type at home.

    1) You could write on paper and then type it up when you’re at school. That’d be a hassle, though.

    2) Go to a library? I can sort of understand why parents would be really strict about limiting computer time at home, but I suspect they’d be okay with taking you to the library.

    3) Do all your writing on paper and participate only in spirit.

  23. Wingson 13 Nov 2009 at 10:24 am

    Sigh…I can only get into the computer lab between classes, and due to the ridiculously long login time, that’s maybe 5 minutes. Maybe I could bribe my fellow carpooler to stay longer after classes…Or just skip my last class, but that’s a bit difficult at a small school where everyone knows everyone. 🙂

    Library could work, but at the nearest one I’m almost entirely sure that you have to pay to use it, and I am broke as usual. Curse my allowance!

    Hmm…when I have to do homework, the computer’s all mine…I shall embrace this rare opportunity! Sayonara!

    – Wings

  24. Beccaon 13 Nov 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Yay, I somehow managed to write 4k today, and now I’m only 2k behind the target! So I think I need to write like, 1800 words a day to make it to 50k by the 30th. I’m finding NaNo surprisingly easy this year, at least the fitting it into my schedule part. Last year I did it while I was in my last year of high school, but it was a very, very low-stress school, so even that was easy. But this year I devote all my non-working time to NaNo. Fun, fun, fun.

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