I knew I wanted to try to make this my fastest year yet, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to beat my time of 14 - 17 days from past years. It looks like I'll be finished with my new middle-grade novel, My Sister is NOT Human, by the end of this week. Squee! One thing I've done differently this year is participate in multiple word wars. It's amazing to see how much I can get accomplished when I set aside one hour to write, and ignore e-mails, the phone...pretty much everything except my novel. I've hit over 2000 words in many of them (I think my top scoring war was 2400--wow)! Some people ask if all I do is sit and write all day. Well, I think about my novel all day, but some of my most productive days have been full of planning ahead and only around three hours of writing. For example, on November 7th, I participated in three hour long word wars and hit 7,061 words for the day. The planning sessions in between have helped a lot! I have the basic ideas for my plot and characters before NaNo starts, but writing out the highlights of what I think will come next has been a huge help (even though not all of my intended highlights happen, because my characters often surprise me).
How are you doing with your NaNo novels so far? I'll post some tips below, to help you make it to the 50,000 word goal. If you'd like to see even more tips, click on the tag at the bottom of this post.
*As you can see, word wars have been a huge help to me this year! See if you can challenge friends (I've started a few word wars on the Blueboards and love participating in the ones on the Facebook group NaNoWriMo Warriors...and the NaNoWriMo boards have them, too). If you don't have time for a full hour, or haven't been able to connect with other writers at a time that's good for you...then challenge yourself! You can chart your progress in a notebook and time yourself for a half hour, fifteen minutes...whatever works for you. See if you can beat (or match) your word count in your next challenge. If some counts are much higher than others, can you see why? Maybe you planned those chapters a bit better. Or maybe you started off mid scene and it was easier for you to get into the action. It's great to see what makes the words flow for you the most.
* It can be easier to make smaller goals for yourself. Believe it or not, I love watching my word count. No, not every second, or I'd never get any writing done...but if I feel my pace slowing, I'll peek to see how far I have to go until I reach the next hundred. Then see how close I am to the next thousand. Those baby steps add up fast!
*Like I mentioned above, taking a small break and jotting down the highlights of what I think should happen in the next few scenes is a huge help to me. Of course, my characters sometimes have other plans, and I'm happy to sit back and see what they have in mind. Most of the time, I like it even better than my original plans. But I've also decided not to use a few of their ideas. In the past, I've deleted entire paragraphs. Now, if I feel like I'm wandering down the wrong path, I'll highlight that section in yellow so I'll know it should be deleted later, and try another path.
*If you get stuck, try thinking about the worst thing you can possibly do to your character, and see where that leads. It will definitely add more conflict! (The amazing Bruce Coville mentioned this years ago at a conference, and it has always stuck with me.)
*Don't forget to celebrate the milestones! I think it's so important to find ways to celebrate while writing your novel. I still do a happy dance every time I add 10,000 words. And I love all the cheers and support from my writing friends...it really helps keep me going. I'm not sure how I'll reward myself when I reach 50,000 words and the end of my novel...but I'll find some way to celebrate. How are you going to celebrate your progress this month?
If you're sitting around, wishing you had joined NaNoWriMo, but think it's too late...take a deep breath and join me in this amazing challenge. Even if you don't make the full 50,000 words by the end of the month, you'll still make writing an even bigger priority...which means you'll have more accomplished this month than if you hadn't tried this challenge. And think...you just might have the first draft of a novel finished by the end of this month!
- Current Mood: determined