Monday, November 16, 2015

5 Tips to Making it Through NaNoWriMo

We're halfway through the month and that means we should be half way through our National Novel Writing Month total or written 25,000 words.  I don't know about the rest of the people taking part in this challenge, but this year I have fallen behind in my count.  I got off to a good start and then attended a retreat that helped get me rejuvenated.  You'd think I'd be farther along.  One of my writing buddies is not only at the halfway mark, she has written 27,000 words.

Now as I turn the corner and begin on the second half of the month I find I need some new inspiration. So what do I suggest now for those others like me who have slowed down to new lows?
Here are 5 tips to get going again or to recommit yourself to finishing and achieving  your goal.

1. Write first thing in the morning.  For the thirty years I was working full time (usually 10-hour days) I always got up and began writing in the morning. Yes, I know some people move slowly at 6am, so I sometimes started with a quick walk. It helped to get my story ideas percolating so that by the time I got back to my desk I was ready to work on the next scene.

2. Start everyday by re-reading copy from the previous day. I know I've suggested that tip before as a way to get started every day with your writing. It can get you quickly back into the scene or if you don't feel like writing, just re-reading what you wrote before might make you want to try a new direction if you think you're going the wrong way.  Actually whenever I don't feel like writing I sit down with my story and take some time just to re-read it. That helps transport me back into that story world.

3.  Start slowly with a writing sprint.  Tell yourself you're only going to write for 15 or 20 minutes -- maybe even 30. Then set a clock so that you know you'll have a reason to stop at that time.  I keep a kitchen timer on my desk so I can do writing sprints anytime I feel like it. I find that knowing I'm only going to write for 15 or 20 minutes can make the writing go faster because I know I can quit at the end. Usually, though, when the timer goes off, I just keep on going.

4.  Go back and check out your character profiles. By now you should be almost half way through the book. Are you ignoring some of the traits you had given to your characters? Are they coming across as the people you wanted them to be?  This isn't the time to go back and reread everything to see if you're heading in the right direction--that can wait until editing, but you should have an idea in your head if you've left things out. Look at including a couple of scenes to fix those problems.

5. Write the ending.  This is one thing I also recommend if  you get stuck halfway through the book. You know how you want it to end, right?  By writing that ending you can start pointing in that direction as you move through the next pages of your book. This is the time to start moving toward that ending. If you are writing a romance, check your conflict to see that it is strong enough to hold you to the end. If you're writing mystery, have you planted enough clues or red herrings to start making some moves toward the bad guy? If you're writing fantasy or science fiction, have  you started pointing at the final battle or discovery that will get the hero and heroine where they need to be for the ending?

One other thing to try might be to take a break for a day or two.  I did that at the end of last week, and while it made me panic this morning when I sat down at the computer I also felt rejuvenated. I was more than ready to get back into my story again and start working.

Now the real trick is to just sit yourself down and start writing. Think of it this way. You're half way through. It's all downhill from here!

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