In events such as NaNoWriMo and CampNaNo, every word you write adds to your word total. While it would be nice to have all those words adding to the same story, that might not be how your brain works. If you’re a short story writer, 50,000 words might be the working drafts of 10 different stories. Use separate projects if you must. The point behind these programs is not about the story itself, but to develop a habit of writing on a daily basis.
Many who take part in NaNoWriMo tend to get fixated on the word counts. Yes, it is good to have a goal, but NaNoWriMo is also about forming a habit for writing that you can carry with you into December and beyond.
There is something to be said for peer-pressure. If you are surrounded by a group that has their heads down and the fingers pounding the keys of their laptops, guilt will often take over — you should be writing too. Me… I can’t write in the presence of others, I’m too much of a social bunny and want to bounce ideas off of everyone. The solution: virtual write-ins. The organizers of NaNoWriMo and CampNaNo often run virtual write-ins via Twitter and other social media platforms. Check them out. They might provide you with the peer-pressure you need to write, but remove […]
Like all social media, the NaNoWriMo forums can be a massive time sink. Schedule the time that you allot yourself on the forums, and be sure that you don’t waste away your writing time.
Many writers will do a certain amount of editing as they write, restructuring that awkward sentence, working carefully to describe the scene in their minds perfectly, deleting phases that were written at 2 am that really don’t make any sense. While this is a reasonable practice, during events like NaNoWriMo and CampNaNo, one should resist as much as possible to do major editing. The idea behind these programs is to encouraged you to get the first draft of your manuscript out as quickly as possible. You can’t edit a blank page. Just let the extra the go.
For some, there is this urge to rush toward the finish line, pulling all-nighters early in November. Yes, there are some that actually reach the 50,000 word mark within one day. (Don’t ask me how, but I know of some personally that do it.) However, there is a difference between rushing to the finish line and generating something that you can work with. NaNoWriMo is traditionally about writing first drafts, but pace yourself and avoid writing pure dribble. It’s 1667 words a day for a reason.
You will see a significant about of advice out there about how much backstory and other information should be included in a story. These articles are intended for the editing phases of your writing. During that first draft, possibly even during that second draft, include it all. If it comes to your mind, get it on paper. Who cares if it’s irrelevant, just get it down. As a writer, you need to know everything, so info dump like crazy in those early drafts. You will edit this information out and bring it back to the bare essentials later.
If you are self-publishing, don’t be in a hurry to hit the publish button. Yes, the likes of Amazon’s KDP have made it easy to upload revisions should the need arise; however, if you edited correctly in the first place, it wouldn’t be necessary. Mistakes will still slip through — no book is completely error-free, but publishing is a business, so treat it as such. Traditional publishing houses don’t take a published work out of print to edit it, reposting a new version weeks later, so why should you?
When describing a character, don’t give just the visuals about their looks — give us habitual body-language, quirks in their speech patterns, attitudes toward doing the mundane tasks. The best characters in literature have vague descriptions of their actual looks but are so rich in detail on everything else.