Monday, October 22, 2012

Preparing & Surviving Through NaNoWriMo

Every writer knows what it means when the month of November us just around the corner; the time to write the novel you have been wanting to write for ages, but never having the time to write it! Now is the time to write the story you have been itching to write for such a long time.

Are you a first time writer? Nervous about to do NaNoWriMo for the first time? I know exactly how you feel. When you sit down to write your first novel, it's terrifying. So I've put together a post to help you prepare and get through the month.

1. Have your characters ready
Keep in mind who your characters are. Their physical appearance and their personality. If you have a hard time trying to visualize what they are suppose to look like, use pictures of actors who you would pick for the role in your book if it was made into a film. Once you have your characters and feel their emotions, it's much easier to write them.

2. Write a small synopsis or Outline of the book
Some of my writer friends will write a detailed synopsis about the main plot first which would be around 30,000-40,000 word, then the authors would work their way backwards writing the events leading up to the main plot twist. I find myself sometimes writing the main plot first then working backwards in the story. Do what you think will work for you. 

3. Write, Write, oh and Write
If you have not picked up Stephen King's books for writers, it's highly recommended that you buy copies and read them. King's advice is when writing the first draft, don't look back. That's the key to NaNoWriMo folks, once you begin writing that manuscript, keep writing, don't go back and edit, don't stop until it's complete. Even if you feel like every word you are writing is absolute crap, that's okay, that's what months of editing are for. Spend the entire month of November writing that book until it's complete. There are writers who have to go back and edit as they go complete a chapter, but that takes up too much time and you will soon see yourself already at the end of November before you have even finished your manuscript. You spend so much time perfecting those three opening paragraphs  you will never get to finish the story. Your best bet as a writer is to finish writing the whole manuscript, then that way you can at least say to yourself, "There, I finished my first novel." 

4. Set a word limit.
Most writers I know will set themselves a word limit they will write each day to achieve their final word count. An average goal is to write 1500-5000 words a day. I set myself a goal to write 5500 words a day. Since most of my completed novels finish at roughly 55,000-60,000 words, after months of editing I get to about 80,000 words.

5. Rest your eyes
Once you have completed your manuscript and thrown confetti in celebration. Close the document and do not open it for one month or two. After enough time has passed, open the document and edit. You will see the manuscript with fresh eyes, and you will be amazed at how much needs to be corrected. You may be grossed out looking at it, but I promise, take one month and fight to prevent yourself from opening the document. After a month, open the document and edit it away. The time spent away from your manuscript will also give you some different ideas as to what to throw into the story. A literary agent once said "Sometimes you have to force yourself to close that document and not look at it for a while."

With NaNoWriMo coming up I hope some of these advice and tips will help you. I use this advice and it helped me write my first novel last year complete at 55,000 words by writing each day 5,000 words. NaNoWriMo is the perfect way for a new author to get their foot into the writing door! Hopefully some of these tips work for you!