NaNoWriMo 2013 Tips, Tricks and Motivation: Let’s Write!
For those unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and the goal is to write at least 50,000 words. In addition, it creates a frenzy of fast-paced word spewing, while raising money (hopefully) for many of their writing programs. Anyone can join from the seasoned author to the casual writer. Mother/Gamer/Writer is run by a couple of writers who participate in the event – or at least attempt to hone their magic writing skills – each year. Today, we’re here to give you our tips and tricks to make NaNo a fun and successful experience and hopefully encourage you to use this month to rise to your full potential as a writer!
This makes my second attempt at NaNoWriMo. November seems to be a crazy month for anyone to disown their family and sit at a computer day after day to write 50,000 words. Some days, it’s hard for me to write ten words much less the 1,666 (roughly) a day for thirty days to make a coherent body of work by then end of November. But, the 1 Novel in 1 Month Challenge does offer a few wonderful advantages that I can’t get anywhere else: motivation, friendly competition and the chance to write faster with less worry about ‘if this sounds like utter crap” and more focus on getting the words onto the page with wonderful rewards upon completion. And thankfully, this year I’m armed with three important tools I didn’t have my first go around.
Dear Scrivener, where have you been all my life. I will be the first to admit I am Word girl. Microsoft Word has been my trusty friend and advisor for the past five years causing me major headaches and tears of joy while writing – what I consider – my amazing stories. Still, I could tell something was missing, something to make my writer experience more cohesive, easier, and less intimidating. After my attempt (and almost win) of NaNo 2012, I discovered a nifty program that practically EVERYONE was promoting. I googled Scrivener, downloaded it, and my first reaction was…WTF. At the time, the program seemed to swallow me whole. I felt like I was treading water and only managing to sink further down into the blue abyss because my legs couldn’t keep me afloat. With a big sigh, I scrapped the idea of ever using the program. I had enough hardship in my life without trying to use a program I thought I could never comprehend.
Until…I learned it. For 2013, I knew I had an awesome idea I had to get down on paper. And as I began jotting down notes, Word was not cutting it for me anymore. I needed something to contain all my ideas: outline, research notes, pictures, plot points, character arcs, etc. without forcing me to open multiple Word docs to find said information. Like any person who hates feeling defeated, I searched tirelessly for a program to be my all-in-one go-to writing resource. So, I opened my laptop and stared at the little Scrivener icon sitting on my desktop. Needless to say, I haven’t looked back to Word since I opened Scrivener two months ago.
How I Learned Scrivener…
1) Katytastic on YouTube – Kat is not only awesome to watch (I now subscribe and watch her videos religiously), she offers wonderful step-by-step advice on how to make an outline in Scrivener. Without her quirky advice and walkthrough, I’d be dead in the water.
2) Scrivener Basics from Literature & Latte – These are the folks that created the program. Their videos can be rather bland at times…but just turn on some music in the background and get to work learning the ins and outs of the program.
3) The Edited Life – A site with loads of great information to get you started.
4) Practice – You can’t learn anything new without trial and error.
Scrivener is now a program I recommend to all my writerly friends. And if you have ever considered using it but found the program to be a tad bit intrusive, I encourage you to use the above recourses and give it another shot. You’re novel – and sanity – will thank you!
I am such a Panster. I love to just write and see where the words take me. Sometimes, they lead to dead ends and other times, they lead me to (in my mind) writing gold. But for those of us who are participating in NaNo, first time or repeat offenders, outlines can be very helpful and often a godsend. If you are attempting to write a certain number of words a day, you need focus. You should have a clear direction or understanding of where you story is going unless you plan on running into the brick wall of ‘what next”. To avoid the brick wall of NaNo, I HIGHLY recommend completing an outline. It doesn’t have to be elaborate detailed paragraphs of eye color, types of food your characters are munching on, or the types of clothes they wore during specific parts of the day.
But what you do need are a few sentences of who is in the scene, character motivations, what should happen in the scene and maybe a quick note on emotions the characters (or readers) should be experiencing in the chapter. And if you don’t know how to outline or if you’re just afraid to try and have no direction, then please check out this wonderful video featuring Katytastic. She’ll show you how to outline and how to do it on Scrivener! Kill two birds with two EPIC stones! I now live by her 3 Act, 9 Block, 27 Chapter outline. And the great thing about it is, you can add more, use less, or rearrange it to make it work for your novel.
Last But Not Least…Save The Cat!
Before the Fierce Reads Book Tour back in June, I’d never heard of Save The Cat by Blake Snyder. Jessica Brody, one of the fabulous authors on the tour, spoke highly of the book and how it changed her writing life. So, I began doing some research of my own and soon discovered, Save The Cat, can really save you novel. I won’t go into too much detail about how this book can make your novel seem like a movie, but I will tell you that Snyder has a step-by-step beat sheet that will whip your story into shape and help you discover any plot holes before you begin meshing your fingers with the keyboard. His book is fun, informative, and very straightforward.
This year marks my third with NaNoWriMo. I haven’t published a single novel that I’ve written during the time, however, I finished each event.
The common trend for writing in general is panster or planner.
I’m in the middle. My outlines tend to remain brief, and most of what I’ve written was planned. There are exceptions, of course. I don’t feel that either one makes or breaks the writer. It’s all about style and expression.
With writing, it’s about the words, and getting them down. If you spend too much time contemplating whether or not to fly by your seat … well you may never actually write. Try it both ways, or just say go with what works for you. The bottom line of NaNo is to write 50,000 words, not to appease the punster or planner Gods.
Remember an outline doesn’t have to be massive. It can be a single page. You can even do it as you go along, or after you’re finished. Some people do it better when they write it first. Again, it isn’t about what worked for someone else, but what works for your writing. But again, if you’re running into problems, try an outline.
Pen & Paper or electronic?
I’m a typer. I type on my phone. I type on my tablet. I type on my laptop. Type, type, type. I use apps such as evernote and dropbox to synchronize my information. If I’m stuck somewhere, I can pull up a WIP, or an outline. Heck, if I’m inspired, I can track and map ideas.
I don’t write on paper, but, and it’s a big one. All of my outlines have a paper copy. Each book I’ve written has a composition book of outlines, character sheets, and so much more. The Nine Realms series currently has four notebooks filled with my world.
Electronics make it easier to make changes, but for my outlines, I use erasable pens. Actually, I only use Pilot Frison pens, but hey, I’m a bit obsessed with them. Just don’t leave your notebook in the sun … seriously, don’t do it.
That’s it for our NaNoWriMo Prep Session. If you are participating in NaNo this year or just want to cheer us on, then please follow/friend us (leave your links in the comments) and let’s do some WordWars and make these novels happen!