It’s almost November and for a lot of people that means NaNoWriMo is starting soon!
No idea what I’m talking about? Read THIS blog post where I talk about what NaNoWriMo is.
If you’re participating this year as well, I’ve got some tips for you that might come in handy.
Know what you want to write about
Having at least a vague idea of what you want to write about will help you a lot. If you sit down behind your laptop everyday, you want to actually write and not stare at a wall for at least 20 minutes, trying to come up with something. Don’t plan every detail in advance if that’s not your style, but know what story you want to tell. The first time I participated in NaNoWriMo I was stuck halfway through, because I didn’t really know where my story was headed, and that’s why I couldn’t reach 50.000 words.
Know thy characters
While I was writing, I noticed I forgot about the little details. I kept writing down things like ‘SurnamecharacterA’ and that wasn’t good for my creative flow. For me it was really helpful to make a character sheet. Write down names, nicknames, haircolour, personality types, style, etc. You can alway complete this list while writing. It saves you a lot of editing later and it makes it easier to search for things in your file.
Get in the writing flow
I think one of the best ways to get in the writing flow is with prompts. Prompts give you a scene or a sentence you have to work with. For example: Your character wakes up in the middle of a busy street in their most childish pyjamas. You’ll probably never use that in a story, but you will get in the flow and you’ll get to know your character better. How will your character react, what kind of language do they use, how do they feel, etc. Prompts can be found everywhere on the internet, so Google and you shall find.
Make a moodboard
Let’s say you only have time to write when you just get home from work. If you get behind your laptop, it’s very likely your brain is still busy with work. Especially if you’re in the middle of a fantasy story and you just got out of a boring office. That’s why it can be useful to make a moodboard. Make a moodboard for the world your story takes place in, your main character’s house, or your main character’s clothing style. Anything can help. Moodboards are very helpful to visualize things more clearly. When you can picture something in your mind because of your moodboard, it will be easier to describe it. Because if you don’t see it, readers certainly won’t. Moodboards are also a fun thing to add to your character sheets.
Do your research
If you know beforehand your character has an illness, you’re writing historical fiction, your story takes place in another country, your character has to appear in court, etc, you need to get your facts straight. Do your research before November 1 so you don’t waste your precious time. Most of the time doing research makes you even more excited to start writing.
Be like Dory. Just keep swimming. I mean, writing. If you can’t get a scene right, just move on. I also advice you to not use the backspace button too often. Don’t be too harsh on yourself and just write. Editing should be done once you’ve finished the first draft.
It’s 2:55, and you tell yourself you’re just going to check Instagram for 5 minutes and then you’ll start writing at 3. But then it’s “suddenly” 3:07… Ugh, your tea got cold as well. So you get up and make new tea. And when you sit down again, you realize you want cookies as well. And you get up again. Maybe you should quickly check your email before you start. And then your laptop needs to update.
When I was still in high school, I often heard the tip to promise yourself a reward after you’ve finished your homework. Maybe that works for you. It definitely didn’t work for me. (Me: I can eat a cookie after I’ve finished this chapter. My brain: Or… you could just eat a cookie now?) I now use an app called ‘Forest’ to help me focus. You plant a tree and while you’re working, your tree grows. If you leave the app to check social media, your tree dies. So rewards don’t work for me, but guilt towards a fictional tree does, haha. Also tell people around you you’re going to write and ask them to leave you alone for a while.
For those who participate in NaNoWriMo (again) this year: I wish you good luck and lots of inspiration!