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3 Writing Tips to Crush NaNoWriMo

Are you ready to be off and writing? NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month–which challenges a writer to draft a book in a month–begins next week and so before you begin furiously writing your story, I have three tips to ensure your story keeps moving forward for NaNoWriMo success.

1. Before You Start

Prewrite. Over this weekend, consider jotting down an outline for your story. It can be as simple as setting up your Scrivener files and filling your Corkboard with all the ideas you have brimming around inside of you! You’ll find as you fill out your story, more ideas will come to you and by the time November 1st arrives, you’ll have a great roadmap to follow.

Another way to get organized is to use the Levenger Circa system. I LOVE these notebooks for my working pages and notes–because unlike a three ring notebook, you can just pop the pages out and put them back in wherever you want. These notebooks are great for drafting and editing and keeping notes while you are writing. I especially love the colored lined filler pages for different storylines. Be careful–Levenger products are addictive. But in a good way.

Then, each day, I know this sort of sounds crazy, but some time during the day before you sit down at the keyboard, think about where you want to begin and sketch it out with a pencil/pen and paper. This will more often than not give you the sort of creative jump start that can lead to more words on a whole, quicker and with less drama.

Do it first thing in the morning, at lunch, or on the bus. Whenever you have a spare 15 minutes. I am always amazed at how this simple exercise fills the creative tank.

Because by drafting the ideas you have, or just playing around with your story for a bit of time before you start writing allows you to plant yourself in the right spot and you’ll be ready to write when you get to the keyboard.

Can’t think of what to write? Jot down dialogue–no tags, no descriptors, just the dialogue. Sketch out the setting. Write down what your characters WANT out of the next scene or scenes. I like to do to do this the night before I write, just to give the ideas a bit of time to ping around in the imagination. Then when you sit down to write, just start transcribing your notes and before you know it, the scene begins to unfold before you.

2. When You Get Stuck

Brainstorm. When you get stuck, (which you will, but no sweat) make a List of 20 things. Anything. Again, get out the paper and pencil, and start tossing out anything and everything. And when I say everything, I mean it, no matter how crazy it is, just get to 20. Trust me, the good stuff comes bubbling up to the surface about numbers 16 and 17. For more on the List of 20, read this post.

Need some prompts: What could happen in the next scene? Where will your characters end up? What will your characters say to each other?

3. Still Stuck?

3) Drive Around the Accidents. Seriously. Accidents happen in writing. Moments when the story detours. Something isn’t working. You can see where you want your story to go–say like in the next scene, but the current scene and your stubborn characters aren’t cooperating.

Sigh. But rather than beat yourself up and despair over your lack of progress, drive around the accident. Put a place marker in your manuscript and skip ahead. I like to just add a “XXX” and then drive around that frustrating roadblock.

And don’t look back until a solution presents itself. When it does, just do a search for the “XX” and fill in that pothole.

After having written 26 books, and driven around my fair share of writing collisions, the solution always comes up eventually. I promise.

Good luck with your NaNoWriMo project! Do you have tips that help you to keep your word count moving? Please share them in the comments section.

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