It’s NaNoWriMo season again and yes, I’m going to give it a go. Last year I managed 10k – which is more than I expected but much less than a novel. That story still sits on my laptop waiting to be finished. I’m not ashamed that I haven’t finished it – I’m proud that I even tried. Besides, it was very fun to write and I look forward to picking up the story again.
This time round I am going into NaNoWriMo with no plan, no outline of a story, nothing. Last night I managed around 900+ words of just free-flow. I have no idea where it’s going or what I’m going to write tonight. All that I’m going to do is use this month of writing for 30 days to do exactly that – write everyday for 30 days. If I end up creating something that could be a novel, then that’ll be brilliant! If I end up creating a bunch of short stories then that’s great too! It doesn’t matter to me as long as I try.
So with that in mind, I thought some writing tips would be of use to those who are taking part in NaNoWriMo or who are passionate about writing in general.
1. Keep a notebook and pen with you all the time
Whenever I go out I take my notebook with me. Even if I’m not planning on doing any writing whilst I’m running errands or meeting up with somebody, you never really know how your day will pan out and whether or not you’ll get the urge to write something down. Plus it makes you feel like you have the option without having to use your phone (which doesn’t feel the same to me).
2. Try different methods, different locations and different times
If you’re not sure when, where or how you write best, try out different scenarios. For example, I tend to feel creative sitting on the floor or on the bed, with my laptop, notebook, a cup of coffee and my craft box surrounding me. I write best in the morning or the evening, and I find it hardest to write in the early to mid afternoon. Others might feel most creative in a busy environment or sitting at a desk – it’s personal preference and depends on how your creative brain works. You just have to experiment a bit to see what works best for you.
3. Consciously make an effort to squeeze in whatever writing you can
Whether it’s a diary entry, a blog post or a scribble of a song lyric that is stuck in your head, it really doesn’t matter what you write as long as you write something. Getting the words out of your head will help to get you in the right mental space for writing and will clear your mind of anything that seems to be in the way of your creative process.
4. Turn off distractions
Leave your phone in another room or turn it off altogether. Put your laptop on flight mode or use one of those handy apps that removes distractions like Poe or Simply Write. The less tabs you have open the more likely you’re going to fill that blank page with words.
5. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect
The first draft is the best and worst draft in that it is a collection of your thoughts at the time. It’ll be rough around the edges with the possibility of poor grammar choices and sentence structure. There’ll be bits that don’t quite make sense or that aren’t even necessary to whatever it is you’re writing – but it doesn’t matter as long as you are getting out those words. The polishing up comes later, so try to focus on the creative flow rather than the editing. It’s only a first draft after all, and a first draft is better than having no draft.
6. Write something everyday
I get that it can feel like there is not enough time in the day when there’s work, chores to do, cooking, exercising, socialising and relaxing. But you can try to sneak in a few words every single day. If you work best in the morning, wake up half hour earlier. If you work better in the evening, write something in between watching TV and going to bed. Better yet, watch less TV and write instead. It’ll make you feel good for completing even a little bit of writing each day.
7. Read, read, read
Reading helps solve a writer’s problems. Whether you are facing a lack of inspiration or you’re not quite sure how to move on from one point of the story to the next, reading a good book will help.
8. Write whatever comes to mind
If I feel completely blocked with writing I try to write whatever it is that I’m thinking about at the time. Sometimes it is utter nonsense, sometimes it’s a sentence, sometimes it’s a paragraph – once it was even a poem. Lots of this stuff remains in my drafts folder or in my notebook. It might get published one day and it might not. The main thing is that it at least got me writing.
9. Everything is a draft
Nothing is finished until you say so. You can edit anything you have written, as long as you have written something in the first place. As Nora Roberts once said; “You can always fix a bad page, but you cannot fix a blank one.”
Have you got any tips that I’ve missed out? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Be sure to leave a comment below!