Friday, October 28, 2011

Polly's 21 tips to NaNoWriMo success

I promised I'd do it a couple of days ago, and with 3 days until the event begins, here's my almighty successful advice.

  1. Keep writing. If you had an off day, you don't know what you're doing, you hate all of your characters and you want to kill everything, you just don't feel like writing, do not, under any circumstances, stop writing. It will be difficult. You may not know where the story is. Don't stop writing.
  2. Go with it. If one of your characters keeps telling you repeatedly to burn down the house, but you know that you plot really needs the house, but your character is very insistent that the house needs to be burned down, BURN THE HOUSE DOWN. You have now murdered your entire plot. Go with it.
  3. Don't get too attached to your plot or your characters. Things will change. If you are too attached, you will get stuck, and not want to write. One of the best scenes from my last year's NaNo novel was a creepy torture scene that I ended up writing because I didn't want to pick up the main plot again.
  4. Speaking of which, double plots. They may happen. If you don't know what's going on with one character, switch to another character's point of view and tell the same story that just happened. It earns you words, and you can edit it out in December.
  5. Make a sticky note that says, "I can edit it out in December." Save it. Love it.
  6. Wrist braces: Get some. If you're typing all day, unless you have magical wrists or the best posture ever, you are probably at risk for Carpal Tunnel or RSI (I've given myself both. Carpal Tunnel is when your pinkies go numb. RSI is where it feels like someone stabbed you every time you try to type). Get some typing braces today. Start typing with them, so that you can get back up to your normal typing speed with them on.
  7. Do not delete anything. You had a new idea that requires revising a previous part? Go with it. Don't revise your previous part. Just pretend you already did that. You can fix continuity errors later.
  8. Have some really spectacular success days. Did you write 5000 words in a day? You can!
  9. Get ahead while you can. In the beginning, try to write at least 3K every day. Then you're ahead, and you won't die, and may earn some days off.
  10. Don't take a day off. If you're about to fall asleep at 2 AM, I don't care. Open up your computer, pull out your notebook, write a sentence, and log it. 0's are bigger motivation killers than 12's. Scientific fact.
  11. Don't think it will be easy. You will miss out on things you really wanted to do. You will feel incredibly stressed and hate all of your characters and want to burn down their building. You will probably cry and scream and tear out your hair and that is okay and that means you're doing things right.
  12. Write in the mornings. Pick a time (Last year, my time was 5:45 AM. This year, it's 8:00 AM), set your alarm for that, and when it goes off, open computer, type. You may not be awake enough to do this well. That is okay. Write words. You can edit it out in December.
  13. Shower. You stuck on your plot? don't know where this character is taking you? Take a shower. Things appear to magically work themselves out in your mind in the shower (it's something to do with the fact that you can't write them down and distinctly feel like it's not as good when you get it on paper. Don't worry about that. It's fine).
  14. Tangents. Go on them. Your character is walking through the park, and you realize that the homeless man she always walks past has a really interesting backstory. WRITE THAT. I don't care if it isn't relevant to the plot. DECEMBER IS FOR EDITING.
  15. Writing sprints. Do them. Go on the Twitter, the forum, Skype, anything, and find someone to word war with. It is helpful.
  16. Write in coffee shops. Let the people think you're crazy.
  17. At some point, you will realize that you cannot write a good novel in this amount of time. That is true. The goal is to write a bad novel, then make it good of a period of several months. Fun fact: Without writing a bad novel, you will never write a good novel.
  18. Challenges. Dares. Adopt-a-lines. Do them.
  19. Don't panic. If your novel halfway through wants to become a Glee fanfiction or your pilot turned into River from Firefly, go with it. You don't know where it's going to take you, but you'll be going somewhere.
  20. Write your whole story. If you hit 50K but haven't wrapped up the story, is it still a win?
  21. Just write. Seriously. Just keep writing.

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