NaNoWriMo Day 30 – AAAAAAAHHHH!!!

NaNoWriMo Day 30 – AAAAAAAHHHH!!!

last day of nanowrimo

You made it to Day 30! Give yourself a round of applause! You should be so proud of yourself.  

Just taking part in NaNoWriMo makes you a winner! If you made it to 50,000 words then that’s awesome! If you didn’t make it all the way, then don’t worry! You should still be immensely proud of yourself for taking part in NaNoWriMo. Whatever your final word count, November was a massive step forward. You started writing your novel and you got a whole whack of it written.

Take today and celebrate! You got through the pressure of NaNoWriMo without losing all your marbles!

However, just because November is over, it doesn’t mean that you can just forget about your novel. NaNoWriMo is just the beginning. There is a lot more to do!

All your hard work and sweat throughout NaNoWriMo happened for a purpose and that purpose is the eventual publication of your novel.

Unfortunately, the hard work isn’t quite over. On the other hand, you’ve already done the hardest part. You’ve written a good chunk of your first draft. Now that you’re out of the pressure cooker that is NaNoWriMo, you can take you time over the next few stages as you finish your manuscript and start to edit it. We’ll be there to help. Keep an eye out for some upcoming pieces on how to take your manuscript to the next stage.

For all of our NaNoWriMo posts and tips, click here.

NaNoWriMo – Day 29 – Show, Don’t Tell!

On the penultimate day of NaNoWriMo you’ve probably already heard this phrase: Show, Don’t Tell. It’s one of those phrases that gets thrown around a lot.

What exactly does it mean though? You should strive to give your readers all the information they need to infer a fact, rather than flat out stating that fact. Here is an example from author Richard Price that neatly sums up this technique:

“You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying in the road.” ― Richard Price

Alright, why are we talking about this today, at the end of NaNoWriMo?

If you’re struggling to get to your word count then this is a useful technique to bear in mind. Showing the reader, rather than bluntly stating facts, takes a lot more words!

These last few days of NaNoWriMo can feel like a grind, as you desperately try and pump out as much as possible. Showing, instead of telling is not an easy thing. It takes time and practice, but this a great time to start that practice!

Here are some tips to get started using this technique:

Demonstrate what your character feels by their reactions. Instead of telling the reader that they are angry, show them clenching their fist.

Remember that every one of your characters has five sense, they feel sensations, they hear things, they can smell things.

This way of writing immerses your readers into your world. It makes it more fun to read…and it takes a lot more words to get these ideas across. So, if you’re struggling to write more today, try going back over your manuscript and seeing if there are any bits where you bluntly told the reader how things were.

Keep writing! You’ve got this.

For all of our NaNoWriMo posts and tips, click here.

NaNoWriMo – Day 28 – Contraction Distractions (or how to cheat at NaNoWriMo)

Alright this is a NaNoWriMo tip that probably would have been useful earlier in the month, but we’ve only just learned that some NaNoWriMo competitors are doing this and we felt we had to say something.

To win NaNoWriMo you have to write 50,000 words. No-one checks what exactly those words. All that matters is that you have 50,000 collections of letters. If you want to cheat and just write 50,000 pieces of gobbledygook then you can. Ultimately you’d only be cheating yourself out of your novel.

Another way, that isn’t exactly cheating but certainly is not in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, is to avoid using contractions. For example, the word ‘Don’t’ counts as one word, whereas writing ‘Do Not’ counts as two words. Thus, if a person was inclined, they could slightly up their word count by never using contractions in their novel.

We feel that this is a pretty dubious thing to do (to say the least!). When someone wins NaNoWriMo that’s something to be celebrated. If someone could only win by using these kinds of cheats, then it kinda cheapens that win.

Aside from the unfairness aspect, it is a little silly to avoid contractions. It’s pretty much shooting yourself in the foot.

Contractions are necessary, they help written English flow and sound natural! Just as, sometimes, contractions are to be avoided in order to help flow, or to emphasise/stress something. The point is, if a manuscript doesn’t have any contractions in it then it is going to be fiendishly difficult to edit. Literally hours and hours of work. It is not a simple matter of ‘Find and Replace’ for each instance. Every single sentence is going to have to be read through and edited appropriately.

Please use contractions! It’s not worth winning NaNoWriMo if you have to resort to underhanded means!

Keep writing! You’ve got this.

For all of our NaNoWriMo posts and tips, click here.

NaNoWriMo – Day 27 – The Final Countdown!

The finish line is in sight. We’re on the final stretch. After today, you only have two more days to get to your NaNoWriMo goal (eeek!!). How you feel about that probably depends on what your current wordcount is and how much you still have to write until you get to 50,000 words!

For some of us, these last few days are going to be a lot of work, stretching ourselves to get to 50,000.

At the start of NaNoWriMo it was easy to hit your writing goals. Perhaps you’d been thinking about your plot for a while, so it was easy to finally put down in writing all those ideas that had been swimming around inside your head before NaNoWriMo even started. Perhaps you spent the first few weeks of NaNoWriMo developing some really strong, well-rounded characters and it was easy to know exactly how they were going to behave at the beginning of your novel.

Now though, as we get to the end of NaNoWriMo, you are deep into the meat of your story. This is the hardest part to write. It’s the most intricate and it’s probably not as well planned as the beginning or very end of your novel.

So, here you are, trying to make sure that you hit your final word count, and you’re writing the hardest part of your novel! That’s a recipe for disaster and you have to find a way to make sure that you’re writing doesn’t slow down.

Luckily, there are a couple of solutions. You can try skipping ahead to an easier part of the plot that will be easier to write. Or you can try pushing through, knowing that you might have to come back and rework this part later.

The most important thing is to make sure that you’re working on a part of your novel that you can write quickly. Now is not the time to be writing complex scenes that you’re going to have to agonize over. If it takes you five minutes to write one sentence then something is wrong and it’s time to change up your NaNoWriMo strategy.

Keep writing! You’ve got this.

For all of our NaNoWriMo posts and tips, click here.

NaNoWriMo – Day 26 – Music?

Distractions come in all shapes and sizes. We’ve talked earlier in the month about how tempting it can be to check websites during your NaNoWriMo writing sessions. We didn’t touch on another form of distraction that seems harmless, but can be insidious.

A lot of people nowadays put on music as they work and writers are no exception. Having something playing in the background can make you feel more relaxed and comfortable. It doesn’t feel like a distraction because it take so little mental effort to enjoy listening to music. However, that can be enough to break your concentration and interrupt your writing.

If you want to play background music, but want something that won’t distract then try something that doesn’t have lyrics. Ambient music is energizing and can help you get in a creative mental space, without tempting you to sing along!

This is a playlist of ambient music specifically designed to help you concentrate on writing during NaNoWriMo.

Keep writing! You’ve got this.

For all of our NaNoWriMo posts and tips, click here.

NaNoWriMo – Day 24 – On Rewards

Yesterday we showed you a site that rewards you once you’ve written a few hundred words. It’s a cute site and if you didn’t catch it then we really recommend that you go read yesterday’s post. It’ll be worth it.

However it does introduce a wider topic: should you be rewarding yourself for hitting a certain word count? And if you should be then what makes a good reward?

“Treat yo self” is such a popular mantra that it’s became a catchphrase and a stereotype of overindulgence. However there are psychological reasons why you should reward yourself with fun treats.

The writing habits that you form over NaNoWriMo should be fun. Sure you can struggle and push yourself through a month of writing sessions. But if you want to commit a long term writing routine then it needs to be enjoyable. Habits are formed by doing something every day until it becomes routine. It can be a routine chore or it can be a fun exercise. But it can’t be an unpleasant difficult task. You can force yourself through something that you don’t enjoy every single day, but you’ll never be able to make it part of your routine.

So if you want to continue writing after November then you need to make sure that you enjoy your NaNoWriMo schedule and the easiest way to do that is to reward yourself with treat after or throughout your writing sessions.

Maybe you’ve already made writing daily a part of your routine. Do you still need to treat yourself? Yes! Absolutely! Indulging yourself can make you feel rejuvenated, which in turn helps you avoid the dreaded burnout. Rewards can reduce stress and lift your mood so that it’s easier to stay in a creative mood and keep writing.

Alright, so now that we’ve decided you should be rewarding yourself, what sort of thing counts as a treat? How often should you be treating yourself?

Most of that depends on you and what suits your current situation. If your NaNoWriMo is going well then consider giving yourself some small reward at the end of each writing session. If you are struggling to meet your word count, then try rewarding yourself more often. Try to strike a balance. Obviously you want to avoid stopping after every single sentence.

The way that you treat yourself can vary. It doesn’t have to be the same reward every day. It depends on what you enjoy and what you would feel is a treat. Maybe you get a cookie every 500 words, or maybe you get a nice coffee every 400 words. The most important thing is to choose a reward that feels like a treat. You want to associate the pleasure of a reward with accomplishing a certain amount of writing.

Whatever you decide make sure that you avoid any reward that stops you from writing. You don’t get to stop writing every 100 words. Your treats should be something that you can enjoy briefly, or something that you can savour as you continue writing.

The point of the exercise is making a writing part of your routine: stopping writing can’t be your reward for writing. After all, someone trying to quit smoking wouldn’t reward themselves for a whole smoke-free day with a celebratory cigarette.

Have some fun!

For all of our NaNoWriMo posts and tips, click here.