Writing Tips

Two years running, I've managed to meet the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.  Of course, I have to make it clear that although I write 50,000 words, generally speaking my manuscripts are 90,000-95,000 words, so this is really only about 2/3 of the way through and not really completely finished in 30 days.


If you're interested in participating, NaNoWriMo occurs every November and you can find information, join, and participate at:  http://www.nanowrimo.org

One of the most important things about NaNoWriMo is learning to write.  Just write.  If you're going to be a writer, you have to work on your craft and just like a singer going through the scales, just writing will make you a better writer.  That is the real benefit of NaNoWriMo.  Practicing your craft and seeing just how much you can really do.

To meet this challenge, I've developed some habits which are fairly effective.  A few other winning NaNoWriMo participants have indicated they also do similar things in order to hit that goal.  So what is this magic?

  1. Write every day, no matter how you feel.  In fact, don't think about how you feel or whether you really are in the mood to write or not.  Moods are immaterial.  Given the least encouragement, your moods will decide you'd much rather be sitting on the sofa eating Fritos (my personal favorite--you can have whatever you want) and watching the latest Freddie/Jason/Predator/Alien movie.
  2. Plan the next day's work lying in bed, right before you go to sleep.  This way, you're relaxed, so ideas will flow, and the next day, you'll know exactly what you want to write and just have to type it (or write it out longhand, if you prefer).
  3. Change of venue.  Okay, for NaNoWriMo, I can't really recommend writing long hand because you do want to get credit, and you'll just have to type it into the computer anyway, but if you can change where you write, that often helps creativity.  Shockingly enough, writing in a public location, be it a coffee shop, library, or my personal favorite, the airport, really does help.  Somehow, all that hustle-bustle makes you get down to work.  I do like to write long hand when I'm stuck or my mood to write is flagging, because that does seem to inspire me, particularly using pretty colored inks in different pens, but this may not be effective if you're really going for that NaNoWriMo certificate.  I generally only do that at other times of the year, particularly the summer, when it's hard to write at all because of all that enervating heat.
  4. Write anything at all.  This is really only for NaNoWriMo.  If you're stuck, or your plot is not working out, just write any old junk.  Treat it as a blog.  Put in your opinions about life, the universe, and everything.  I've never done this, but I know other participants who have, and it does work to hike up the word count.  Remember, the goal is to write.  Any writing is good writing--the more you write, the better a writer you will be--it doesn't much matter what you write, as long as you write.  If you're a serious writer and want to actually do something with the output, then at least try to stick to whatever plotline you have going for you, knowing that you can always cut the junk out later and add more relevant parts.  I find that killing off a character is a wonderful plot device, although maybe that's because I really like mysteries and think any genre could use a few dead bodies to keep the reader's attention straddling that razor's edge.  Ouch.
  5. More.  I just can't think of them at the moment because my cat just leapt into my lap and attacked the keyboard.
Books by Amy Corwin
The Dead Man's View