NaNo time!

Alright, so there’s more to go on The Foundling story, but I’ve left it in a convenient place at the end of a halfway-ish arc. Next time we’ll be kicking off with some background to Colutis, but I’m afraid you’re gonna have to hold on for that till December.

Because it’s NaNoWriMo time!It’s been a few years, but I tell you it’s amazing how fast it comes back.

Here’s how I work:

1) A vague idea for a story, plus some decently fleshed-out characters (the characters drive the story, for me, so they’re the most important).

2) Setting my targets at 2k words a day – thus giving me some leeway around work and life and such.

3) Stocking up on things to drink and snack on to keep me going. This is always coffee, squash and beer on the drink side. Each ahs their place in my routine and depending on where my brain is at the time, each helps me to write. On the snacks side, I have banned myself from sugary snacks and crisps, so we’re talking nuts and dried fruit, fresh fruit and veg, that sort of thing – tasty, and much better for my overall energy and health levels!

4) Decide on legal distractions that I’m allowed to use whilst writing, when my attention wanders and I need a break, or I’m working out a plot point, or whatever. Taking a walk is a good one especially when stuck, I always choose a couple of games (with easy and logical cut-off points) I’m allowed to play… That sort of thing. Something that gives my writing brain a rest for a bit, but is finite in length. No other things are allowed till my word count is hit (incidentally, this is also pretty much how I organised readings and assignments through Uni).

5) Get a good start by grabbing a nap before midnight, and hitting the first 2k before I go to sleep. Then sleep, write at least another 2k – 3 if possible – before day one is up. That gives me a solid foundation, and a feeling of accomplishment to take with me into day 2. It also helps give me leeway during the mid-month slump, if I don’t hit my targets for a few days.

6) Schedule EVERYTHING! Have a vague idea of how long I’m likely to take to hit target, and schedule everything else around it. Schedule when I wake up, when I work out, when I do go out and be social, when I do other media stuff for the film company I work with, when I go to do my night shifts at other work, when I get to kick back and do something else, how much time I need to cook… I pretty much schedule everything into blocks – some flexible, some not – of time, and stick to it as best I can. But I will sacrifice time in a flexible block if I need to extend the writing, or I’m extra tired and need a bit more sleep, etc.

7) Writing sprints and Word Wars. I would never finish anything without these. Sometimes with friends, sometimes with strangers, doesn’t matter – during November there are always sprints and wars to join in on, and always other people doing them. Give me 5mins, half an hour, an hour, whatever, and watch me raise smoke from the keyboard. Screw spelling, screw formatting, screw grammar and actually making any sense – that can b fixed later. Getting the damn words on the damn page is the point.

8) It helps me if I can break my story down into sections for NaNo. There’s a bigger plot, but if I’m able to break it down into something not unlike shorter stories within the bigger story, that helps me immensely. Making slightly more bitesize points out of the much bigger target helps keep my focused in the right place.

9) If I’m stuck, head to any place where there’s a group of people (twitter, facebook or the NaNo forums, generally), and ask for suggestions. Doesn’t really matter what 0 ask for an idiosyncrasy for a new character, or the start of a sentence… One of my old faves is asking for 5 random objects, which must then be turned into a dream sequence which somehow furthers the plot. It really doesn’t matter, just something which will give me a bit of inspiration when stuck.
It also stops me getting bored, and forces me to move forwards. And usually results in some seriously ridiculous stuff, which keeps me happy :)

10) If I can’t write the book, I’ll write about writing the book, or I’ll start fleshing out backstory or I’ll spend half an hour worldbuilding stuff I might not ever need to know. I often get ideas when writing around things, cos I’m still circling them but I’m not banging my head against them.

And I reckon that’s enough for now. Time to go get that nap before midnight!

  • Michelle Connor

    Yay :) someone I actually know in RL doing NaNoWriMo, this will be my first time though, so I am bricking it.

    • Lee Hulme

      Ah, you’ll be fine πŸ˜‰ Biggest thing is just getting the words down – turning off the inner editor takes some practice but makes things much easier. You’re not expecting to hit December 1st with a masterpiece, the achievement is in writing all those words.