Write-Ins – Countdown to National Novel Writing Month

Writing can be more fun when other people are there to share the experience with you.  Like writing sprints, write-ins can be a great way to keep yourself moving forward toward that awesome goal of 50k words.

If you’ve started an account at nanowrimo.org, you’ll find a tab toward the top of the page that says “Region.”  If you select “Home Region” from the drop down menu, you can usually find people who live in your area that are planning write-ins locally in the forums at the bottom of the page.

I live in a rural area, in Wyoming, so there are not a lot of write-ins in my area.  But, this is the age of the internet, so I rely on virtual spaces to fill needs when my physical spaces do not provide them.  As I mentioned in my last Nano post, you can look for writing groups online.  I have a group I sprint within email, but I also attend virtual write-ins in SecondLife.

Write-ins are a great way to connect with other writers, and not feel so alone as you are hammering away at your keyboard.

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Writing Sprints – Countdown to National Novel Writing Month

I actually did a lot of writing sprints before I  knew what they were.  A friend and I would find a writing prompt, usually a word or a song lyric we liked, and then we would write for a set amount of time and swap what stories came out of those sprints.  Writing sprints are very commonly used by NaNo participants to bolster their word counts.

A writing sprint is where you write for a set amount of time.  Generally, you do not edit during this time, you just hunker down and get those words on the page.  During NaNoWriMo, these sprints can be essential to ensuring you get your word count.  I personally like sprints that are 20-30 minutes long, but you can do sprints that are 10 minutes or 15.  I’ve seen some people even do 45 minute sprints.

Sprint with friends!  Hop on twitter, email a friend, invite them over.  When I sprint with friends, I find I’m more motivated to get that word count going.  We will usually share our word counts when the sprint is over.  I am the competitive type, so it often has me typing like crazy to try and get the most words on the page for that sprint.  There are also apps you can use like wordWar by Dr. Wicked.  You can join competitions in progress, or get a Pro account and start your own “word war” with friends.

Twitters sprints!  You can check out NaNoWordSprints throughout November to sprint along with others working on their NaNo Novels. You can also check hashtags like #wordsprints or #writingsprint to find others on websites like Twitter and Tumblr, who are sprinting.

If you need a sprinting buddy for November, please let me know, and I will give you my email for sprinting.  Or check me out on twitter @TamingTheMuse.  I will definitely be doing some sprints next month!

 

Plotter or Pantser – Countdown to National Novel Writing Month

The first time I “won” NaNoWriMo was in 2013.  I read No Plot?  No Problem, created characters, and did my best to create a semi-coherent sci-fi book.  It was called “Equilibrium” and it was a meandering mess.  It was not a total failure though, I learned my first baby steps to writing a full-length novel that year.  I also learned I was a planner, not a “pantser.”

What is a Pantser?

A pantser is a writer who flies by the seat of their pants.  They don’t need an outline, they just write what comes next.  They start their journey at the beginning and they sail on until they meet their destination.

Even though I’m a planner, I do have pantser moments, where the characters go left instead of right, and I have to figure it out as I go.

What is a Plotter?

A plotter is someone who plans their story out in advance.  They might write it chronologically, or they might skip around, because they have an outline.  I love a good outline.  I like to know where my story is headed and what I need to write next to get it there.  There are lots of ways to outline a book, I tend to use Scrivener to do mine, and go scene by scene.  I try to hit major plot points, like the inciting incident, pinch points, midpoint and finally the climax, as I plot.

This year I’m going to try to plot out my story by “beats.”  It’s very similar to the way I’ve outlined in the past, and you can find lots of “beat sheets” online that give you an idea of when to hit what points in your story.

So, are you a pantser or a plotter?  Have you tried both, or only one?  

Intro to NaNoWrimo – Countdown to National Novel Writing Month

The moment October 1st hit, the thought “You need to start planning for NaNoWriMo” hopped into my mind, because it confirmed that November is just around the corner.

If you are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, this post is a quick introduction to get you up to speed.  I decided I would post a blog each Monday this month to give my readers tips and tricks about participating in this event, based on what I’ve learned over the last three years.

I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, since November 2013.  NaNoWriMo is an annual event where writers commit to write 50,000 words in a single month.

First of all, head on over to nanowrimo.org and sign up!  The great thing about the website, is it will give you a place to keep track of your novel’s details and word count.  You can also add friends (aka Writing Buddies) who are participating and track each other’s progress once November starts.  I tend to be a competitive person, so if I am falling behind and my friend is killing it, seeing their word count grow motivates me to keep working on mine.  My screenname on nanowrimo.org is freudianslipped, feel free to add me if you are participating this year!

Every Monday for the next month, I’ll be covering topics related to NaNoWrimo, and here is what I’ll cover:

Oct. 10  – Plotter or Pantser?  Do you like to outline, or would you prefer to fly by the seat of your pants and make it up as you go?

Oct.17 – Writing Sprints.  What are they and how can they help you make that daily word count goal.

Oct.24 – Write-ins.  Whether you are going to a coffee shop, or participating on Twitter, these can be a great way to get writing.

Oct. 31 – Keep Going!  Ways to help you catch up if you fall behind in November.

 

Are you participating in Nano?  Is this your first year or are you an old pro?  I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

Quieting your Inner Editor

In preparation for National Novel Writing Month, I wanted to write about something that serves as a struggle for most writers.  The goal of NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words in a month and if you’re constantly rewriting words, it becomes quite difficult to make that count of 1,667 words a day.

The problem most writers I know face, is that they end up in a never-ending loop of editing.  They write two sentences or a paragraph and go back and fix it over and over again.  This is one of the fastest ways I know to halt your NaNoWriMo progress.  Many of the friends I mentioned have fallen into this trap and only managed to get a thousand or two thousand words out before they gave up altogether.

So here are some tips and tricks to help you get to the finish line this November.

Try ilys.com.  ilys.com is an online word processing program that only allows you to see the letter you type as you type it.  You can’t hit backspace or go back and rewrite any of what you’ve written, until you’ve hit the word count you are aiming for. It forces you to keep writing without editing until you have hit your word count goal.

The sign up process is easy and they give you 10,000 words to as a trial.  Once you’ve hit the trial word count, if you like ilys.com, you have the option of buying the an account for about $10 a month.  I have had friends who have had great success with this program.  The only drawback I find is that it often requires a lot of editing for minor mistakes and typos.

Turn off your monitor.  If you can’t stop yourself from editing and just want to get a bit of writing done, this is another alternative similar to ilys.com.  Set up your preferred word processor and turn off the monitor or cover it if you are on a laptop.  You may even want to step up a timer, so that you have a certain amount of time that you are committed to not looking at what you’ve written.

Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  This technique may sound overly simple, but one of the best ways to quiet your inner editor is to be aware of it and to ignore it when it comes up.  Remind yourself that you will edit the book when it is finished and make notes in a separate notebook or document if you need to.  If you’re writing in Google drive, you can even make comments to remind yourself what to fix later.  I can tell you that getting in the habit of not doing any major edits until after the writing is done, even if it’s just getting that 1,667 words done for the day, will get you closer to your goals as a writer.

I’ve even know friends who just free write constantly and never hit the backspace button.  This isn’t exactly my style, but if you find yourself over editing, it’s a technique that might help.

How about you?  What do you do to keep your inner editor quiet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Getting ready for National Novel Writing Month

If you are a budding writer and finally want to get that book that’s been inside you on paper, now is the time!  November will be here soon enough and it is known to many writers as NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month.  

This will be my third year participating.  Okay, that’s not completely true.  I had said for many years I was going to do NaNo, but didn’t truly commit or make a plan to accomplish it.  Whether you are a planner or a pantser (I’ll explain those terms in just a minute) having a map for the month of November is the best way to give yourself a good start to completing that book.

Failure to plan is a plan to fail.

You definitely don’t have to outline the book you want to write, so don’t think that is what I mean by planning.  In NaNo there are often two kinds of writers.  Planners, who do a lot of work before they write their novel, outlining and perhaps researching their story so they are ready to dive in.  There are also Pansters, who “Fly by the seat of their pants” and write whatever comes to mind.  No matter what camp you fall under, it’s still a good idea to ready yourself for NaNo and plan ahead for a few things.

Are you going to start at midnight October 31st?  A lot of people use that time to gain both momentum and word count.  You won’t be alone, at least online, because other Nano participants will likely be writing as well and tweeting about it.

Set aside time each day to write.  Before you get started, plan a time each day to get those 1,667 words in each day.  You’ll be glad you did, because you will be less likely to fall behind and then feel like it’s going to take forever to catch up.  Plan ahead.  If you know you’re going out of town for Thanksgiving or to see family in November, maybe plan to double your word count for a few days before you go.  You’ll be glad you’re ahead, rather than behind, when you get back to your story.

Find some writing buddies.

Once you’ve signed up on the Nanowrimo.org site, find some buddies.  You can do this by lookin through the forums or adding friends from your real life.  Each year you get to watch as your buddies work toward their word count, and let me tell you, watching them blast their way past you is a great motivator to catch up to them.  It’s not really a competition, but that edge can help me at times to work just a little harder.  If you’d like to add me as a writing buddy on Nanowrimo.org, my screenname is Freudianslipped.

SPRINT

No running shoes required!  A writing sprint is where you buckle down for an allotted set of time and just write.  At the end you check out your word count and give yourself a pat on the back.  If you’re sprinting with friends, you might share word counts and encourage each other.  It’s a great way to shut off the world and get some of your writing done!

So there you go, there are my tips for NaNoWriMo!  Hope you have a fantastic National Novel Writing Month!