Monday, 1 November 2010


Is here! The first day of NaNo has arrived, and around the world thousands of writers are embarking on that one month struggle to write a novel - and surrendering any hope of sanity for thirty days as they do.

Many people chose to make systems in their writing. An example of this is a set word count every day, maybe with flexibilities at weekends or on certain days to match their schedule. This is both good and bad. Good, because it gives you a chance to plan how much you will theoretically get done by the end of the month, and bad, because it's horribly restricting. For first time NaNoers, I would discourage a system like this. Only because it’s harder to struggle for words when you are trying to reach a target, than when you know you're free to write however much or little you want. Freedom is a liberty, and its one first timers usually like to hold onto. This obviously isn't the hard-and-fast rule for everybody; depending on different people, they may in fact find it easier to work towards something. But generally, adding more word counts to that massive one (the seemingly impossible, allusive 50k), can be discouraging.

I myself am using the word count system, only because I know without it, I won't be strict enough in my writing habits to get it all finished before the end of the month. It only took a minute on the calculator to figure out that I needed to write 2500 words a day in order to reach 70,000 in a month (I'm aiming slightly higher than the pre-requisite), with a hundred words or so flexibility of this total. Compare this to the time it’s taking to achieve the first 2500 - I have been going back and forth to it all evening - and you will see that planning and execution are two entirely different things.

Obviously, there are exceptions here. On weekends, naturally with more time I write more. Sometimes, I get within the realms of 8000-10000 in a day. This means I'll have less to write on a particularly tricky day later in the week. But I'll still write. Never let yourself fall out of the pattern of writing during the month of NaNo. It is a luxury you can't afford. Whether you use a word count or not, you must write every day. Whether it’s a sentence, a paragraph, or a whole chapter, it doesn't matter. Just write. Write like there's no tomorrow, write even if every word is the biggest struggle of your life, write even if you're sure it’s the worst thing you've ever written. It can all be improved after NaNo. But you won't get that line to shine if you haven't written it in the first place.

I realise I've given a range of tips here, just to get you kicked off with your novel. So, in summary:
- Words counts have advantages and disadvantages. Use them wisely
- Make writing work around you. It doesn't matter whether you diverge from a schedule if you make the words up later
- Write. Write, write, write, write. Oh, and then write some more.

There will be more NaNo tips in the next few days. Feel free to tell me how your NaNo's going, I'm sure I'll be telling you the trials and tribulations of mine.

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