Here are some techniques I use when actually writing my NaNo piece.
8. DO NOT DELETE
Ha! Of course you wouldn’t delete some of your magic words. Would you?
Yes. I’ve seen it done (or at least, I’ve been told about it on the forums). Someone deleted several chapters because they didn’t fit in with how the book was developing. Err … hello? This challenge is all about writing words, and is all about the word count at the end of the month. By all means, delete stuff on December 1st. Delete the whole damned novel if you wish. But for now, leave all those nice, and not-so-nice words where they are. You wrote ‘em, you should have ‘em counted.
9. Interact, but not too much
There’s writing, and then there’s writing about writing.
Don’t spend too much time on the forums, or in Facebook groups. The NaNoWriMo forums are a great place to find inspiration, discover great software, ask and answer questions, or just shoot the breeze. It’s lovely to talk to other people who are going through exactly what you are. But do that after you’ve completed your word count for the day. Don’t start by checking the forums, because half an hour (500 words) disappears in a flash. Write first, chat later. This is also a RULE.
There is, as with most rules, an exception. Which is: sprints / word wars / call them what you will. These abound on the forums and in Facebook groups. What will happen is that a number of NaNos will agree to start writing at, say, 20 past the hour for 15 minutes. So, at the agreed time, someone types “go”, and everyone disappears off the forum for the 15 minutes, and comes back and tells everyone how many words they typed. There’s no prizes, there’s no shame, it’s fun. No, really it is. And it really does work to get words into your manuscript.
10. Turn off the internet
This is a bit drastic. But try just closing the browser window for an hour. The world won’t end, the government will still be in power, and the earth will continue to spin while you’re not surfing the web. But it’s amazing just how much difference that simple act can make. As I write this, I have my browser open behind the document, and I can see Facebook updates happening, which is a terrible distraction. Fortunately, I’m loving doing what I’m doing, and I’ve already completed my wordcount for the day.
There are a number of dark screen programmes around, which will make the rest of your desktop disappear whilst you’re typing. Scrivener has this facility too, which I do find actually works. I make it all disappear, write write write, and by the time I come up for air, there’s another 350 words in the document.
We can’t all have writing studios to shut ourselves away, but try and get used to writing with distractions – TV on, kids playing, wife / husband / partner moaning about the lack of food in the house. Try to get used to writing in non-ideal situations.
10a. Back up your data
Oh yes. This is a favourite of mine. And yes, I do know we’ve already had 10 tips. I planned to write 10 tips, but my plans changed as I wrote (see what I did there?)
Please, please, please back up your data. You are going to spend at least (I’m guessing) 50 hours of your valuable time writing. Are you going to trust this cargo of words to that collection of metal, plastic and magnetic whirring disc platters, without having a copy somewhere?
Of course you’re not, because you’re a sensible writer.
Copy your data to yourself in an email, use Dropbox (other online storage options are available), copy the files to a thumb / stick drive, or a USB hard drive. Just do something to make sure that if the worst happens (and don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be a catastrophic failure – some nefarious scroat could come and nick your computer, or someone could inadvertently spill beer / coffee / wine / champagne / perfume / nasty stuff all over it. Back your wonderful words up once a day. That’s right, once per day. Without fail. I shall be checking.
10b. Don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself
And finally, my 10+2th tip (think of it like 20% extra for free), – enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be, at least a little bit, enjoyable. Write what you want to write. Write in first person, third person, second person, fifth person, whatever. Write in rhyming couplets, write without any punctuation, write stories about great fables and legends, about naughty nannies and creepy car mechanics, write about a writer who does this stupid writing challenge every November, write about the birds and the bees, the fruits and the trees, write about nice people, nasty people, friendly people, weird people, mad people, people who all look like Tim Jones, people who talk in stilted form and add a ‘hic’ to the end of every sentence, write about pilots, sailors, astronauts, drug dealers, cops, robbers, cowboys, lathe operators. WRITE WHAT THE HELL YOU LIKE. It’s your novel, it’s your NaNoWriMo, enjoy it 🙂
And that’s it! I hope you find these tips useful, and that they help propel you through November and come out at the end with a novel to show everyone!