As I said previously, Nanwrimo is approaching fast and everyone involved is doing nearly everything they can to make sure they get and stay prepared. Though, within the chaos, there are two ways to prepare that most Nanowrimoers use:
- Pantser: noun; someone with the ability to “wing it.” These people can dive right into their novel and come out with something extraordinary.
- Plotter: noun; a nano participant who takes the weeks (or even months) in advance to Nanowrimo to create characters and their development, outline the overarching plot, and shape their story so when the starting gun goes off, there is no stopping the word flow.
I wish I could say I was a pantser. I wish I could look at a blank piece of paper and be able to create a story with no rough draft. Unfortunately, my brain does not like the idea of “rough draft= final copy” (thanks dad for that one) in the case of writing something very important to me, a.k.a. a novel. It is meticulous. I like having the little itty bitty details in my writing that all tie back together and make the story that much better. I am unable to accomplish that with only a single draft for each chapter.
Now, with that being said, I am one to turn to journals and index cards. The journal was my idea. The index cards, my sister’s. I like to write down names, print out pictures of colors of hair and eyes, and even write down some basic questions that are going to build my world and the plot in it. With this, I can let my inner nerd shine and use as many sticky notes as I want and color coordinate and tape everything and make everything look pretty and yes my cat does help me with this. Referring to the index cards, my sister gave me this idea a few months back when working on plotting another project of mine. She told me to write down every scene I had though of and every detail that might be important to the story each on their own individual index card. From there I can rearrange each chapter if something further down the line isn’t working. And if something isn’t working and I can’t seem to figure out why, I can easily switch around my ideas and the problems become more accessible to solving.
Along with the actual writing preparations, there are also mental and physical preparations needed before November to ensure success. Physical being daily finger stretches (refrain from popping), and letting your hand hang out the window of a moving car and shifting your index and middle fingers back and forth so they look like they’re running. Even hands need their exercise too.
But, in all seriousness, keeping motivated mentally is a hard thing to do. You can train your fingers to type any word you want out of any combination of letters, but if your mind, or more so your heart isn’t in it, what’s the point? Now, I’m not saying there isn’t going to be lulls because, BELIEVE ME, there will be lulls. You’ll get bored of a scene or not have any idea what to do with a misfit character, but you shouldn’t let these obstructions in your writing keep you from participating in something you love. In saying this, here is the best advice I can give to someone losing their excitement in a project:
- Eat something. This might sound like a stupid thing to start with, but it works. Your brain needs food to function and function properly and it offers your fingers a few minutes to do something other than bang away at your key board. Also, who doesn’t like food?
- Read. We get all of our stories and writing styles from a mixture of books we have read and words we have had the privilege of entering. Find your favorite book (or one you wouldn’t mind skimming over again) and let yourself get lost in the reason everyone started writing: love for the written word, even if only for a little while.
- Talk about it. Whether it be to your best friend, dog, or yourself, talk about your ideas…aloud. I find it a bit harder to really get a whole lot of ideas quickly when talking to my friends who know nothing about my book, but if you include them from the beginning and secretly acknowledge them as your idea fountain of youth or just writing buddy (you do you), you can get some amazing ideas from an outside perspective who is not as attached to your characters or story as you are. Saying them out loud is also an easy way to see how you might sound to a reader. Both of these can really alter some of your ideas you wouldn’t have thought of in the first place.
- Take a step back. When the slump hits, you can pound through and just keep typing, but I find that if you have truly lost your spark with the piece you are working on, just take a second and see what the matter is. It can be a day or a week or two weeks, but sometimes letting the frustration subside will let you get new ideas and (hopefully) reduce stress.
- Set it aside. There isn’t a Nanowrimo fire alarm on your laptop going off if you decide to work on something else. The whole idea of Nanowrimo is to have a group of people, all on their own writing journey, to help and support you with whatever project you decide. You can change it. You can edit. You can do whatever you feel is going to benefit you. That’s the point of this whole organization
I hope some of these ideas helped you, and I pray that you are well on your way to winning Nanowrimo this year.
“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”-Oscar Wilde