I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I need to revise a couple of my novels, and this is the busiest time of year for my marketing day job. However, NaNoWriMo’s been in progress for a week, and I’ve had questions from writers who fear they won’t finish.
One writer is very much behind. Another hates her NaNoWriMo novel; she’s got an idea for another she really wants to write. And yet another fears that the novelist’s life isn’t for her, she’s too stressed.
If you have challenges too, the following tips will help you to successfully complete your novel, whether or not you’re doing NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo and your novel: commit to completing your novel
Firstly, commit to finishing your novel, whether you do it in November, or not.
I suggested to the “I hate my novel” writer that she complete it anyway. Moods come and go. Her resistance is trying to tell her something. When she discovers what that is, chances are that she’ll happily ZOOM through her novel. Every author hates their novel at some point. It’s normal. 🙂
Let’s look at the tips which have worked for me, as well as novelists who’ve successfully completed NaNoWriMo.
1. Keep a book journal: your journal is your friend, inspiration, and guide
We’ve discussed the value of a book journal in writing your novel.
Journaling your book helps you to stay in your chair. Before you start writing, write a journal entry. Talk to yourself about the book. Ask questions (more on a questions below.)
No one will ever read your journal, so if you’re having a bad day, it’s a good place to vent.
Not an idea in your head? Need to write a scene which scares you? Journal about your lack of ideas, and your fear. Before you know it, ideas have come to you, and your fear has vanished.
2. Writing flowing like molasses? Create word lists
When your writing just won’t flow, you’ve lost your connection to your creative self. Make a word list. Any words you choose. Just list them across the page. Keep going, until you’re inspired to write a sentence.
You will be inspired… keep listing words. Your words don’t need to have any connection to your novel. This is a simple trick, and it works.
3. Use mind mapping, it’s the only way to take in your complete novel at a glance
It’s impossible to keep the story of your novel in mind as you write, let alone all the ideas, and decisions you’ve made about character and plot.
A quick check of your mind map helps you to take in your story, almost at a glance. I always have one section of a novel’s mind map titled REMEMBER. This is for character attributes (a character has a habit of sniffing, or blinks rapidly when he’s stressed), foreshadowing, sudden ideas for backstory, and so on.
Look on your novel’s mind map as a safety net. 🙂
4. Stuck? Split your daily writing session into three periods
On some days, 1600 word seems like an impossible chore. If you’re having one of those days, when your brain is foggy, or you’re just tired, split up your writing session.
Do a session early in the morning. Complete another session in your lunch hour, and the final session before bed. Chances are that this persistence in the face of your impasse will kick start your creativity and you’ll have a breakthrough.
4. When you lose your connection to your novel, write by hand
Sometimes you’ll lose your connection to your novel. Your characters seem silly, and your plot seems thin. On those days, write by hand. You don’t need to write the complete 1600 words by hand. Just write a couple of pages,
Then transcribe your words (or dictate them) into your manuscript.
Writing by hand inspires my creativity, and I become more invested in the novel. You may discover this too.
Whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo, or are just writing a novel, these tips will help.
Most importantly of all, keep writing. Your moods come and go. You’ll have high energy on some days, but on other days, everything is a chore. Write no matter what. 🙂