Thursday, November 10, 2011

NaNoWriMo—Keeping it Moving Along

In a few days, November will be half over. How are you progressing on your word count for NaNoWriMo? Are you geared up to hit that 25K mark by the end of the day on 11-15?

Regardless of where you are on word count—behind, ahead, or right on track—if you’re like me and other writers I know who are cranking through this month of writing, you’re facing some kind of challenge regarding your story. Here are some thoughts on ways to keep your writing on track.

Find a Writing Buddy

I wasn’t going to participate in NaNo this year, but my daughter’s school is encouraging students to give it a go. My daughter jumped all over this project, and is now in a fiercely competitive word count race with her teacher. And with me. So far it looks like I’m getting my ass kicked by both of them. But it was her decision to get involved that made me decide to go ahead and do some serious work on an idea I’ve had poking at me for a while. And our friendly—well, mostly friendly—competition has lit a fire under both of us. We even decided on prizes for when we reach certain goals. And on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, we read excerpts to each other. It’s a much more entertaining and motivating way to participate in NaNo than anything I’ve ever done before. So give it a try. If you like having an exercise buddy or a dieting buddy, you might like having a writing buddy as well.

Take Notes

As you’re toodling along, you’re going to be making spur-of-the-moment decisions about your story. These could be as simple as a character’s eye color or more complex, such as a fundamental element of your worldbuilding. As you make these decisions, write them down or type them into a separate document (or into a “Research” folder in your Scrivener project). This way, the next time you need to remember what color Declan’s eyes are, or what kind of weather is prominent in the Northern Continent of Madeupavonia during the fall months, you don’t have to page through your draft to find the information. It’s right there at your fingertips.

You can also keep notes regarding bits you need to research or scenes you forgot to include. Instead of stopping to look up data on the life cycle of the Siberian mudskipper, just make a note in the manuscript. You can look it up later and adjust your text as necessary. If you realize you need another scene before the one you just finished to make the flow work, make a note. Then you can either come back and write it after NaNo, or write that scene to make tomorrow’s word count.

What are some other strategies to keep you momentum going? Feel free to share in the comments below. I’d like to hear about how you’re doing and the path you’re taking to get there.