It generally takes me about a week to quiet my inner editor during NaNoWriMo. For the first week, I fight with her a lot. She tends to want me to go back and fix plot ideas, weird sentences and anything else she can think of. I have learned one thing from her, listening to her is the quickest way to stop myself from getting my writing done. I’ve also watched a lot of friends become crippled by their inner editor, so they don’t make their daily word counts and end up quitting before they make that one week mark in NaNoWriMo.
So I decided to share a few handy tools to circumvent your inner editor.
Ilys is a great website that even lets you test drive their software. When using their software, you set a word count goal and then it brings you to a screen where you can only see single letters as you type them. You cannot see if you have made errors and you cannot go back and fix them if you did until you hit your word count goal. This is a great way to set a word count goal and just go for it. It basically forces you to complete your writing without any sort of editing. You also cannot see the errors, so it may make you less anxious about making them.
The trial account allows you to write up to 10,000 words before signing up for a member account. When I looked into a paid account, it was only about 10 dollars a month.
Write or Die
Write or die is a program that sometimes scares me. When I first used it, the program would actually delete everything you had written if you waited too long to keep writing. Write or die now comes with several different options, and you can also try out the service to see if it is the kind of app that will motivate you.
You can still set the app to erase your writing if you pause for too long. You can also ask it to provide negative reinforcement. When I stopped writing, the app played horrible, off-key violin music until I started writing again. You can also set it to reward you, if you buy the program, and it will provide positive feedback as you hit your writing goals.
Both of the apps are great ways to break things up and force yourself to write! Are there any other tools you use to get yourself writing?
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.
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!
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?