NaNoWriMo

If you haven’t heard about it by now I have no idea where you’ve been. NaNoWriMo is in full swing and only has 9 days left to go. I have friends who are currently trying to knock out a finished product in time.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. For the month of November writers who desire a challenge attempt to write an entire novel in just this one month. I’ve actually never participated though I might one year… maybe.

The co-leader of my homeschool group and I decided that this year we were going to have the kids get a taste of writing. We only have two meetings in November and why not use them to facilitate a love of writing? Our first meeting was explaining what NaNoWriMo was and assigning a fun writing prompt.

Normally I hate writing prompts I simply don’t work that way but one type I do find fun is the one word prompt. We gave them the word ‘plant’ then explained that they had to write a short story that was either about plants or used the word plant in it. Our second meeting was the word animal.

Needless to say we encountered some… interesting stories as a result.

While NaNoWriMo inspires a lot of people I have to say I’m kinda jealous. I simply can’t do the ‘techniques’ writing workshops tell you to use. I’m very impulsive with my writing so attempting to write a book in a month is almost guaranteed to fail. Here are some techniques I’ve been told to use over the years.

“Even if you don’t write stare at your computer screen for fifteen minues everyday”. Er, no, I’m far to busy to waste fifteen minutes staring at nothing.Not to mention that sounds insanely discouraging.

“Make sure to write an outline so you know what you’re doing.’ Um, no, if I write an outline I feel as if it’s finished and get bored. I’ve NEVER succeed in finishing a story that has an outline.

“Use a venn diagram or use a brainstorming chart.” Ugh, if I wanted to be bored I’d find a more interesting way to achieve it. Not to mention that I fail to see how random words will help me write a book.

While these techniques don’t work for me that doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. If they do great, if they don’t that doesn’t mean you’ll never pump out a book. I refuse to force myself to write 2,500 words a day when there’s a high chance it won’t flow with the rest of the book or I’ll delete it.

Here are some techniques that do work for me.

  1. Write when the mood strikes. Have some way to write anywhere. For my 1st book I carried a two inch three ring binder. Whenever I had a moment I reread where I stopped and added to it. I wrote while waiting in line, waiting for my turn on the bowling league, in the car, ect. For my 2nd book I used my iPad.
  2. Don’t force it. You can always tell when someone forced themselves to write. The story goes from reading smoothly to strained as if the author forgot what they were doing, or as if they were just filling in required words.
  3. Scene Breaks. This is an odd technique I use quite frequently. Sometimes what I write doesn’t have a home just yet. It’s a bit like the brainstorming technique but instead of a word it’s anywhere from one sentence to several pages. Write down what pops into your head and set it aside. You may find that those three pages you wrote have a home at the end of the book. I add mine to the end of a doc and use the words “Scene break” to let me know that it’s there for future reference if I can use it. Normally I can use it by changing a few words around to make it fit the scene I’m putting it in to. Sometimes I need to delete or change whole sections.
  4. Don’t feel guilty. If you haven’t written in four months, well, that’s pretty average for me. I know it’s there and I’ll get to it, eventually. I also tend to write several things at once. I find it allows me to keep the creative juices going, and I’m pretty sure I’m ADD where writing is concerned but hey it works for me.

Writing is less about following the ‘rules’ and more about a creative outlet. NaNoWriMo is a great way to challenge yourself with that. Can you write a novel in an entire month? Which techniques work for you? And most importantly; was it fun?

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About Marcia Young

I’m the wife of an NCO and the mother of one, home schooled, special needs child. I have won several people’s choice awards for my fanfiction under the moniker MLMonty. All of my current published works can be found via Smashwords and other retailers under my nom de plume Marcia Young. I am currently open to finding a new literary agent and publisher.
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