06/07/2014

NaNoWriting


Happy Sunday to all and to all a happy Sunday!

For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, where aspiring writers join once a year to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. It's exciting, fun and you get to meet a lot of fun, lovely people in exactly the same boat as you. Together, you share writer's block, feelings and conversations that you wouldn't be able to share if you're writing alone.

I'm not sure whether it happened before, but this year NaNoWriMo introduced CAMP NaNo, two extra months (April and July) where you can write in the same environment but under a more relaxed atmosphere.

It wasn't until this month's camp that I've managed to score just under 10,000 words in a week. You know why?

I got myself a writing buddy.

This is a great tip for you aspiring writers out there. My buddy, Inge (I've mentioned her before in previous posts) has been an angel in disguise. She's pushed and pushed and pushed at me to write more, get it done, think about it later! Just write! And thanks to her, I'm feeling more positive about this month's NaNo than I have ever felt before.

So today, I'm going to give you guys a couple of tips in not letting the workload get on top of you, and hopefully if you haven't joined this month's, you'll join next months!

Tips:

Get yourself a buddy.

It could be a friend you know IRL, someone with the same goals as you online, or just someone you feel comfortable writing with. A buddy can do you wonders, and you can easily swap chapters with each other. Your buddy will help you improve and give you the nudge you need to run the last hurdle. He/she will be your saviour, and you will be theirs.

The best part about Camp is that you are assigned to a cabin with up to 11 other people, all going through the same ups and downs as you. You can even adjust the cabin settings before choosing so you can add people you know. This year, I'm in a cabin with Inge and a bunch of other people who are all so lovely and fun, it's given me that extra zest to rev up my writing.


Chill out!

Don't let it get on top of you. You're not the only one who works full time/goes to school/has exams/other things that take priority over writing. Even if you write a couple of sentences on your phone or in a notebook, it all goes towards your word count. Whatever you write, it adds to the score, so chill out! There is no point in letting stress getting the best of you. Life first, writing later! 

I work full time, Monday to Friday, 9-5. At first, I was worried I wouldn't be able to get this month done, but I worked out a timetable. Whenever I have a break, whether it be a fifteen minute break or full hour for lunch, I either jot done what I want to happen next in my story, or I write a quick paragraph. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it still counts! If you can spare an hour a day, you'll be surprised by how much you can get done in a week.


Don't stress.

Whatever you do, don't panic. Don't let the stress dictate how much you write, when and how. As mentioned above, you have a lot going on in your life. Writing is supposed to be your escape, not your punishment. So if you're having a particularly bad day and can't write anything, don't worry about it -- you will make it up somewhere else.

If 50,000 words seem to big a number to aim for, even if you're already halfway through with the month, you can always change your word goal. That's not cheating. If on the 1st you thought you could easily get 50,000 done, great! But if this has been a busy month, change it to a number that is more doable. It doesn't matter. It's supposed to be fun, remember that!


Rough drafts are always going to suck.

One lesson I've learned the hard way is do not look at your draft before you've finished. You will hate yourself and it may lead you to scrapping that idea altogether.

Editing month starts the month after Camp. If your story is finished, take a month out to just read through it and note what you need/want to change. Your first draft is going to suck and that's normal. You're writing in the heat of the moment, and not everyone plans their story word for word -- I certainly don't. I ride the wave, write whatever I feel like writing and I like to be surprised by how the story turns out.

There is no doubt that when Editing Month rolls round, I'll be an emotional mess and Inge will probably have to talk me out of literary suicide. I'll go from "I can handle this!" to "Oh my God, what the HELL was I thinking, this sucks, I HATE THE WORLD!" and that's okay. That is totally acceptable. Whatever happens, don't give up, because at one point, this story was your baby. Treat it like your child! Give it love and attention and it will turn from a shocking rough draft to a little gem you won't be able to stop polishing.


Get yourself a playlist.

I've found that when I'm writing a poignant scene, I can't get into it emotionally, so I rack up a list of songs that make me feel sad and suddenly, it's like I'm the characters, feeling what they're feeling, seeing what they're seeing. It might surprise you what a good playlist can do to your writing.

A lot of people don't like listening to music with lyrics because it distracts them. Get something without words and concentrate on the music. If you feel something whilst listening to it and writing, chances are your readers can feel it too. 


Swap!

If you've found yourself a buddy, what's stopping you from sharing what you've written with them, and vice versa? It's a great feeling, having someone read your work and say, "I don't like that, try it from this angle," or "That's awesome! When can I read more?" 

It'll boost your confidence (and theirs) and you're already getting word out that you're writing.


If you don't have a buddy, don't worry! Places like WattPad are great if you're writing for NaNo. Ask your cabin mates if they have accounts, add them and that way you can all read each other's work and give each other tips.


Remember, it's not a competition.

It's not a competition, guys. Don't look at your mate's word count and think s/he will be done way before me! If you think like that, you'll panic and panic is the first step to writer's block. It's not a race. It's meant to be fun. Look at it as a competition and you'll find yourself in a bad place. If someone has done more than you, chances are they've got more time/have had the idea stewing for a while/have planned in detail. Just because you haven't, it doesn't mean you're a bad writer. Remember, life first, writing second.


Damn, I didn't complete!

Again, don't worry if you didn't complete your word challenge. It doesn't matter. Again, it's only a bit of fun. But look how much you've written this month! You've probably written more than if you hadn't taken part. Right? Right? Chill. There are other months, more challenges and NaNoWriMo sends you pep-talks throughout the writing month and the editing month. If you didn't complete, it's not a big deal. If you want to wait to continue it until the official NaNo in November, that's fine! You're that much closer to completing than you were when you started out. 


So guys, remember! Write, but don't let it rule your life. It's fun. It's a game. 

And it's great.

Happy writing!