Thursday, October 31, 2013

So, You Wanna NaNo?

Are you NaNoWriMo-ing Tomorrow?

What's NaNoWriMo you ask? Check out my post from a year ago then come back here.

Now that we're on the same page, and since this is my second year at this (and therefore an expert, thank you very much), there are a few thoughts that I'd like to share with you.


Please, this is about using an excuse to focus on writing for one month. Friends want to go to the Justin Beiber concert? First, get new friends. Second, tell them, "I'm on a deadline. I made a commitment!"

Second: Get into your story world

I won't bother to tell you that you need to nail your concept, know your characters, plot it out or pants it in -- you are NaNoWriMo-ing, you understand this stuff.

But what you need to do in preparation of your daily writing session is get into the world/universe you've created for this story. Feel it, see it, hear them. Make it vivid and the stakes will become vivid.

I have a writing journal where I write out, what happened, what will happen next, and why do they matter.

Three headings, bullets underneath each. Remember that what happens next must have a reason for happening. As Jim Scott Bell says, happy people in happy land does not make for a compelling story.

Spend 15 minutes on this and your writing will get an octane boost.

Third: Don't stop until you're done

That means don't go back and reread what you wrote. Don't revise now. Stop that. All you're doing is stalling the creative process.

I know the pain, I've been there. You're well into the second act then you realize, "Holy Bat Juice, Batman, if I made Bobby a woman, then I can add this very cool plot twist." But it's more than changing the name, it's changing some of the interactions, the dialogue, it's, it's.... STOP I tell you.

Get a post it, on it write "Bobby = Barbie" then stick it on your table, your monitor, your forehead (scratch that). When you are DONE with the first draft, you will have to revise -- none of us are good enough to write perfect first drafts -- at least no one that reads this blog.

The desire to go back and revise is your inner child saying you're not good enough. The universe will conspire against you. Don't get hooked by it. You are a writer. Do what you do -- tell the story before your characters decide to leave you.

Fourth: Write

It's that simple. Just Write.

It doesn't matter if it's crap. You can't fix what hasn't been written. I am a better reviser than a first drafter. But I know that when I put the story on paper, the world becomes real and my characters become three dimensional -- they become vested in the outcome of their story. They can't do that if I am navel-gazing wondering if the first responder would be the Highway Patrol or the Sheriff. Who cares?

Write it now, fix it later.

You are a story teller. Your medium is writing. Now go and do it and let me know how you're doing.

Fight the good fight!


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