It’s almost November, which means it’s almost NaNoWriMo! For those that do not know, November is national novel writing month. It’s a month to set a goal of 50K words written towards your novel and incorporates an amazing community of fellow writers, who are also on an uphill battle of completing a novel. I find having a community of support, with a shared goal, eases the panic of writing, and you can meet some amazing people in the process. It can be easy to let yourself get in the way of writing your story, but when you have committed to doing it, with a community, you have some accountability that forces you to sit and write. That is why it’s such a great month to start writing your novel.
As I’ve been spending these past couple of days prepping my novel for NaNoWriMo, I’ve compiled a list of tips I’ve found helpful in the basics of getting started. They are simple, and something every writer probably already knows, but I love reading writing tips — as they are a lovely reminder that I am in control of this and at the end of the day it’s just fun!
KEEP A NOTEBOOK AND MAKE IT A PART OF YOU
I have a notebook that I keep next to my bed. Whenever I wake up I write down everything that I can remember from my dreams. I find that most of my ideas come from this pocket of time between being asleep and being awake, and I want to make sure everything is written down so I can digest it later when I’ve had my tea and washed the dust from my eyelids. I also bring this notebook with me in my bag wherever I go. Inspiration can hit you at any moment, and you want to be ready when it does. I also like writing down anything that sparks an interest to me. Whether it’s the way someone dresses, walks, talks, or anything else that just catches my attention.
HAVE A WRITING PLAYLIST
I cannot write without music. Unlike most, listening to music with lyrics does not bother me or distract me. It never has. I am however still very particular about the music I listen to when I’m writing, and it really is dependent on my mood and the mood of the arc or scene that I’m working on, so I like to compile a large playlist with a variation of artists and songs, so that I can just skip to something that suits me better in that particular moment. I also have a habit of letting little things like finding music distract me from writing when I get stuck. It’s always subconscious, and it can take quite a while until I wake up from my trance and realized that I’ve been procrastinating. It’s better that I have something ready before I sit down to write.
HAVE A FOCUS APP ON YOUR PHONE OR COMPUTER
I use an app on my phone for when I’m working and want to remain focused. It’s so easy to get lost in “research” when writing that you can lose precious writing time to the depths of the internet or your social media accounts. Whenever I’m ready to start working, I turn my focus app on and it keeps track of time for me. If I use my phone during that focus time, I do not get my plant for my forest. I use the forest app, but other apps have their own goal tracking and consequence markers.
KEEP A MASTER LIST OF THINGS TO RESEARCH
As previously mentioned, I can get lost in a research spiral. I can be working out a character or plot and need to do some more research on a particular topic or characteristic, and I can lose track of time and my momentum in writing, so I like to keep track of things I need to research in the future with a master list. I also keep a list like this for every character and every point in my story. Sometimes I can get stuck and feel like I cannot write any more at this particular point of the story unless I research, and that is when I make an executive decisions, I will either do some research, with a timer on, to remind me to get back to the writing, or I will just work on a different part of the story.
SET UP YOUR WRITING ENVIRONMENT AND HAVE A BACKUP PLACE TO WRITE
This novel writing month I will not be in the comforts of my own home, as I do not have a permanent place to live yet, but as having a space that is mine and provides comfort rather than annoyance is vital to my creative mindset, I have to make the environment I have work for me. It’s always been important that I have a space that is clean, and filled with my stuff, and has soft lighting. That’s where I work best. I also like writing outside, if the weather permits. So I like being by a window — but sometimes writing from home can make it difficult to write, so I like having a coffee shop that is comforting and familiar to write. It’s important that I already have these spaces picked out before I start writing. It’s also important that I have a bottle of water, a pot of tea, and an assortment of snacks on standby, as I do not want my stomach distracting me.
HAVE AN OUTLINE AND YOUR CHARACTERS GOALS AND MOTIVATIONS
Some writers are what we call ‘pantsers’ and they are writers that go into November just writing their story with no plotting or planning. You may be someone that writes like that. I personally cannot do that. I need to have an outline and a list of my characters and bullet points of what their goals are and some of their characteristics. So I like spending a little bit of time working on these before November 1. However, I do not agonize over these. I will always find some of these things changing over time. The more I flesh out the characters and the plot, I can find that what I thought worked previously no longer does. It’s important to not get married to a specific idea and welcome change, but it’s also important to have something to work from and something to refer back to when you get stuck or you lost the goal.
That’s all I have for now, but stay tuned as I share more tips and updates on my writing process during the month of November. You can follow my process with NaNoWriMo here.
Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, link me your profile and we can be buddies!