Monday, October 24, 2011

How To Gear Up For NaNoWriMo

Dude, so I've done NaNo for a few years now. And, as an immersion writer, 50K in a few weeks doesn't bother me. I'd almost say it wasn't even a challenge... but some of you might start throwing Coke cans.

But it's true. Some friends and I decided at the end of September that we'd write two more books by the end of the year. For me, that meant a personal goal of one book in October, and one in November.

I am a bit behind on this lofty goal, but I've only written for something like 13 days (maybe 14) and have just under 40,000 words. My goal is still to finish one book by next Monday and turn around and start another on Tuesday, November 1.

Here's how I gear up for NaNo, which I realize probably doesn't apply to any of you, but you never know.

1. I sit on my story idea for a while. I don't allow myself to jump right in. I need words, after all.

Some of you might outline at this point, or take some notes or something. Since I'm opposed to those things, I just sit on my story idea, stewing about it.

2. I name stuff. This sounds very technical, I know, and it sort of sounds like note-taking too. You have to understand that usually when I write, if I don't know a character's name, I simply put AAA or XXX and move on. Sometimes I make up a placeholder name and use that, fully intending to change it later.

But for NaNo, I actually think this through first. I may or may not write it down, depending on when I think of it and where I am.

3. I think of titles. Lame, I know, but it helps me to name my book for the NaNo site, and to have something to reference in my nightly emails.

Which brings me to the most important part of NaNo (and for all writing for me)...

4. I gather the troops. Let's face it: I'm useless by myself. I can set all kinds of goals and whatever whatever, but if I don't have someone I have to report to...fail.

So I get a few people who are going to be writing (or NaNo-ing) too, and we commit to emailing each other each night with two things. 1. Word count for the day and 2. Last line written.

I like this. Scratch that. I LOVE THIS. It helps me make writing connections with my friends, and it reminds me that in this business of writing where it's so easy to feel isolated and alone, that I'm not that isolated or alone.

I have used the NaNo site for this in the past, but I like the intimacy of the emails more.

Then when November 1 hits, I 5. Write like crazy.

And that's the method to my madness. It's a little bit like the Tasmanian devil, but hey, it works for me.

What do you do to get ready to NaNo?

53 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm not participating. I haven't finished planning my next novel (I HAVE to plan before I write the first draft), I'm still deep in edits with my wip, and I'm going away for a week in November. That week is a huge amount of lost writing time.

Good luck, Elana!

salarsenッ said...

I really like your suggestion of emailing each other and sharing those two daily goals. That's a great way to stay focused. I'm still not sure if I'm participating this year. I have a bit more planning to do with my next novel and life is crazy at the moment. :) Best of luck!!

LynnRush said...

I do a quick mind-map. I finished mine up the other day so I'm chomping at the bit to start Nano so I can start writing the story now :)

Oh, and I'm with you on #5 there. :)

Miranda Hardy said...

I've written the outline and have a good general direction of where I want to go. This will be my first year, so I'm excited. The timing was perfect.

Christine Rains said...

That's an awesome way to get ready for NaNo! I've been doing it since 2003. I love the creative rush. I've completed the challenge every year except last year. Babies take up so much time! I even pushed myself one year and did the 50,000 in ten days. It can be done. This year, I'm doing something different and trying to outline before it starts. I'm a pantser, so this is hard for me. Yet I only have a limited amount of time to write, so I want to get a little organization before the crazy fun starts!

Jen Daiker said...

You and I seem to work the same! Like you, I can write extra fast, my novels are normally written in under two weeks, after plotting has happened (anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks -- before there was only pantsing).

I'm passing on NaNoWriMo this year. With a holiday mixed in and a week long vacation I'm struggling just to keep the blog posts up to date! Where do all the ideas go???

Kelly Polark said...

I love that idea of emailing the word count and last line written. Very motivating!
I'm nanoing for the first time. I scared to death! But I am excited to get so much done!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

One of these years I'll try it. I wrote 200,000 words in six months once, so I know I could do it. Just in the middle of editing right now...

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I love the idea of emailing not just the word count but the last line written too. Brilliant.

This is my first year of participating with an idea I've had for longer than a month or so, so I'm hoping this will be the year I'm finally a winner!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I participated last year. That's when I wrote CassaFire. Didn't name any but the main characters though. Just left a blank until I had time to go back and brainstorm!

Christine Fonseca said...

Dude! Our process sounds the same ;)

Slamdunk said...

I like your ideas Elana.

Gathering the troops for peer pressure seems essential in the committment required for NaNo.

Nicole Zoltack said...

I figuring out which story idea I want to write and that's about it. I think I'll try to come up with character names before November, since that can sometimes trip me up.

Kelly Lyman said...

I was thinking of doing it this year. It is the first time where I haven't been in the middle of already drafting a novel. Do you actually "sign up' on the website or do you just commit to writing the 50k yourself and check in with your friends? I love the idea of having friends to check in with though-

Paul Greci said...

I've written a couple of novels in a NaNo-like fashion but have never actually participated in NaNo.

I love your daily-last-line idea. That sounds like fun!!

Matthew MacNish said...

I don't do Nano, because it takes me years to write a book. Maybe someday. But it sounds like your method is most excellent!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

My novels aren't long enough for NaNo and I'm deep in revisions right now, so . . .no NaNo for me. :-)

Tere Kirkland said...

I need to NaNoFinMo next month. My poor wip needs another 50k and I've been working on it so intermittently these past few months, it deserves a whole 30 days devoted to it.

I do a ton of synopsis work before I NaNo. Makes it easier to just keep writing, and to stay on track.

Good luck, everyone!

GunDiva said...

We have amazing write-ins and they are critical for me. I couldn't "win" NaNo each year without them. There's a level of committment/responsibility that comes with meeting with the same group of people over and over. You can't leave a write-in without having written at least a couple hundred words.

I'm mostly a pantser, but last year I attempted to be a plotter. That didn't work so well, I felt constrained, like I couldn't allow the story or characters to go where they needed to. This year, I don't know what I'm going to do, but with only seven days to go I'd better get it figured out.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Cool!

Carolyn Abiad said...

I love your method!
I've been working on characters, names, etc. I also made a rough outline, because I want an idea of where I should be going.

Carrie said...

This is great. It might sounds silly but I like to clean my house before NaNo and take care of any other projects so I can dedicate myself fully to NaNo.

Heather said...

You are totally my hero.

Creepy Query Girl said...

This will be my very first year! I finished my last book in June and started querying it in august and now I'm waiting back from a couple agents and I've had an idea I've been sitting on these last few weeks that I feel could be 'it' so what better time to write like crazy? I'm excited to say the least- it looks like such a great community!

Peggy Eddleman said...

Haha! That sounds like a fabulous way to attack it! I'm not doing NaNo this year, because I just got my very first revision letter from my agent ('kay. It was so cool to write that). Revisions for me! Not to be left completely behind, I'm doing a NaNoReviMo. :) Working on your #4 right now, because it sounds like the very best part!

Laura Barnes said...

Awesome tips! I love the emailing with a few friends idea. I'll have to try it.

I also like your word "stew". Sometimes that's exactly what I do. I usually use the word "mull". I do lots of mulling over in anticipation.

Liza said...

I love the idea of #4, even though I'm not doing Nano...again. Instead, I've challenged myself to get to 50K before Nano...and I'm at 47k and change right now. (I was at 38K at the beginning of October when I identified the goal!) I have someone "playing" the game with me, and we are updating each other on word counts. It's such a help! Immersion writer? Two books in two months? That's amazing!

Red Boot Pearl said...

oooh super good tip--I like the email with your last line--I will have to do that!

Cherie Reich said...

It'll be my third year with NaNo. I do let my ideas sit in my head for a while before I sit down and outline, take notes, etc. I love the idea of emailing word counts and last lines. It makes you more accountable. :)

Jessie Humphries said...

I am with Peggy...we are doing NaNoREviMo together. #4-gathering the troops.

The Golden Eagle said...

I usually work out the details of the plot/setting/characters, making outlines and character sheets for reference.

Krispy said...

I kind of love your emailing idea. It takes accountability to the next level!

Leslie Rose said...

I love NaNo. It feels so free. Like speeding down the freeway with words flying out your windows. I write about a million bullet points, morph them into a loose plot, and then - Ready...Set...NaNo.

RaShelle Workman said...

Elana - Sounds like a great plan. I like to think of a title and have friends participate with me, too. It's going to be fun.

Laura Pauling said...

I'll be rewriting/revising a bit. The email idea is good. Best of luck! :)

Angela Brown said...

Since I'm prepping for NaNo, and this this is my first time, I admit I'm a bit nervous. But running across prep posts like this has been very helpful.

Bookmarked!

Overdue said...

Nano scares me. I like to come to terms with my writing failures slowly over a period of years, not have them explode in my face in a matter of weeks!

I hope you don't mind but I've included you in a writing related tag on my blog. Hope you'll come check it out!
Emily

Jemi Fraser said...

I love NaNo! I'm not sure about this year though - I've put next to no time into the new story (I know one character name & the initiaing event. Period) because I'm focusing on finishing up another story's edits right now. I usually need that thinking time too. We'll see what happens this year... :)

Jennie Englund said...

Good luck! It sounds like you're well on your way.

WHEN do you write? Night? Day? Day and night?

That's what I need help with...finding (making) time.

siobhan said...

I sit on my NaNo idea and I make notes for it. I just started to outline for it cause last time i didn't even get through one chapter. I still haven't finished my first NaNo idea. I'm still looking for people to talk to through the whole NaNo idea, so if anyone needs someone please drop me a line.

Patti said...

Great suggestions. I'm a sitter as well. I've had an idea percolating for a few months now. NaNo might be the perfect time.

I especially like your last suggestion.

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Goodness you write fast! I've never done NaNo but maybe one year I will. I'm just such a slow writer, but maybe when I've written more books I'll get better at writing a little faster. Good luck!

Amy said...

I've decided to try NaNo this year. We'll see how I do. I'm going to try outlining a little to hopefully help when I get lost on what to say. I love your ideas, I think I'll try some!

Becca said...

First I make sure my lead characters have names, and then I tend to make a cover for my nano-novel.

Then I tend to write a letter to my characters explaining to them the month ahead.

I also read through "No Plot, No Problem." It's kind of a tradition for me.

Emily said...

Elana, I'm a NaNo virgin, so all of this is very useful. I especially like #4. I'm making my crit partners do that. Yes I am.

Thanks for the tips.

Susanne Drazic said...

This is my second year doing NaNoWriMo. Didn't reach my 50,000words last year. Actually didn't plan on doing it this year, but decided to jump on the band wagon and give it another try. I've got an idea, so I'm trying to get an outline done and trying to figure out my characters. Will use the Vision Boarding method I learned about at The Muse Online Writers Conference to help me with that.

Christa said...

I was all set to do this, but then I started early and now I'm deep in revisions and don't think I can pull it off. Is your intent to sell both the books you write or are any of these just for the sake of writing practice? Very curious about this. I sort of just want to write and know I'm never going to do something with it, but part of me feels like that will never work.

Amber Cuadra said...

That sounds a lot like my method of getting ready for NaNo. X) Good luck with your project!

Deb A. Marshall said...

LOL on the technical "I name stuff".

Love the daily email of word count and last line written! Going to see if I can round up a few troop of my own so we can totally copy that! Good luck to you and your troops!

Deb A. Marshall said...

Oh...and this year I have changed my mind back to going with an outlined, character developed, setting and world created novel....was thinking no, no go with seat of pants like usual, cause last time outlining stuff didn't work too well. Then, changed my mind again.

Yeah...in other words I have no plan?

Lesli Muir Lytle said...

What do I do?

I copy whatever Elana J is doing!!! She's brilliant!

kbrebes said...

I'm doing it. I don't have time to do it, but I'm doing it!

Coreena McBurnie said...

Great tips, emailing is a great idea. I have one friend I phone every morning and then we write. It sure helps to have support and be accountable. Thanks.

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