By Kandy Williams
Meeting Recap: October 2015
Don’t know NaNo? No problem. Thanks to our guest, Anne Delekta, local liaison for National Novel Writing Month, you don’t have to stay in the NaNo-unknown. Anne shared with us how NaNo began, as a writing challenge between friends in San Francisco. That endeavor–to write 50, 000 words in 30 days (originally July)–gained a fan base and momentum, and now attracts writers from around the world. Each year during the month of November (because no one was writing much during that first July), people sign up through NaNo’s web site and by so doing commit to hashing out a rough draft of a never-before-written-novel in one month. In order to cross that 50k mark, NaNo encourages participants to write approximately 1, 667 words a day. Daily emails are sent to cheer and prod writers along the way, and various in-person events (such as write-ins) are held throughout the month.
Chris Baty, NaNo’s founder, also utilized the format of NaNo to write No Plot? No Problem. [From Amazon] “Chris Baty, founder of the wildly successful literary marathon known as National Novel Writing Month, has completely revised and expanded his definitive handbook for extreme noveling. Chris pulls from over 15 years of results-oriented writing experience to pack this compendium with new tips and tricks, ranging from week-by-week quick reference guides to encouraging advice from authors, and much more. His motivating mix of fearless optimism and practical solutions to common excuses gives both first-time novelists and results-oriented writers the kick-start they need to embark on an exhilarating creative adventure.” For more info on the book / kit, visit here
His primary advice? “Hush your inner editor and get it out.” Basically, give yourself permission to do nothing but WRITE for 30 days. Let it be as awful as possible, especially if that means you’ll have a (crappy) draft to work with later on.
Anne, our speaker and 12 year NaNo-participant, realizes (both from personal experience and from talking to other writers) that following that advice is challenging. Many people start off strong and often peter out 2 weeks in. But here are a few methods and pieces of helpful advice she’s picked up over the years:
*It’s best to start with a brand new concept. Your LOVE for the new characters and story can be powerful and help propel that word count, especially early on. This can even give you a little padding with that daily word count requirement. Meaning, if you have several days of strong writing and find yourself ahead, then you’re better able to handle stressful days, writer’s block, and so forth, because you’ll have a chance to regroup.
*Leave notes for yourself each day on what you’re going to write. Having an idea about the next chapter or scene keeps those creative juices flowing and might make you eager to get your butt in the chair.
*Stop writing mid-scene or even mid-sentence. Forget leaving the reader hanging; leave the author hanging. Of course you won’t be able to leave it like that, and in fact, you may zoom to your desk each day in anticipation what typing what you’ve got planned next.
*Try Beat Sheets. These are used by screenwriters. Since screenwriting is a bare-bone type of writing, this might be just the prompt you need to keep your story moving without getting bogged down into details.
*Try the Snowflake Method. Crafted by Randy Ingermanson, his book, How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method, outlines “ten battle-tested steps that jump-start your creativity and help you quickly map out your story.” [Amazon] Having read and applied this myself, I also give it a thumbs-ups!
*Mindmapping. Like Post-It notes and seeing bullet points of each of your scenes laid out? This could be a method that works for you, keeps you on track, and motivated.
*Group brainstorming. Gather together your writing buddies and discuss plot points where you’re stuck. Fresh ideas are their own muse.
These are only a sample of the techniques and methods anyone can try to keep them focused and writing for the month of NaNo. Here at SiCCO, we’re discussing ideas for helping you make the most of your writing time, whether it’s November or anytime of year.
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