It’s that time of year when many of us plan to write a book because we hate ourselves.
Hello to NaNoWriMo! And if you don’t know what it is (ARE YOU LIVING UNDER A ROCK, SON) it’s basically a month-long challenge in November to write 50,000-words. Writing is hard, okay. This is a truth universally acknowledged. You’re trying to be a bunch of different people ALL AT ONCE in a story that hopefully makes sense by the end. *
Some people take years to write. Other incredibly annoying people take a few days.
Yeah, um that was a massive burn @ me who writes 90K in 3 days quite regularly. But look at my blog title. I’m basically the Fast & Furious and I do use my “fastness” for other purposes, like getting the heck out of there when it’s time to socialise. #Skills
But that’s not what this post is about.
In honour of
the month of trauma NaNoWriMo, I want to give you 10 tips to help write 50K in a month! These are really intelligent writing hacks that you can use all year around. And I wish to doubly underline that they’re intelligent and not at all dangerous.
(Just, um…get an adult when you’re using scissors, a stove, or that bloody meat cleaver, okay?)
OTHER WRITING POSTS YOU MIGHT LIKE:
1. YOU’RE WRITING A FIRST DRAFT, NOT A POLISHED MANUSCRIPT.
Now I can see the panicked sheen of your eyes as you whisper, “Cait, I’m a perfectionist and I can’t help that.” And OK! I am a perfectionist too! BUT NOT DURING 1ST DRAFTS. When it comes to perfectionism, you honestly have to make a deal with yourself. A good way to go about this is:
- Realise you want things perfect OR YOU WANT TO BURN DOWN THE SUN.
- Say that’s ok. Love yourself, satan.
- Make a deal with yourself in that: NO you may not edit while you’re writing in November. But YES you may edit when you’re finish.
- I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH.
- Reward yourself with cookies, cake, the true throne of England — it doesn’t matter. But you WILL get to be a perfectionist, just. not. yet.
I actually nearly quit writing because of perfectionism. I acknowledge that it sabotages my writing and I work with it.
Anyhow I also wrote a FANTASTIC post on how to write a “perfect” (aka gnarly) first draft last year before NaNo. So go reeeead that and bask in my genius. Or, you know. Don’t bask. I can bask alone. I’m my own biggest fan which is very supportive of me.
2. NO CLUE WHAT THE HECK YOU’RE SAYING IN THAT SCENE? JUST KEEP WRITING IN CIRCLES TILL YOU FIGURE IT OUT.
The reason my 1st drafts are usually 100K+ is because (A) I hate myself and wish I was a piece of bread, and (B) I often don’t know what I’m saying in every scene. So I just keep writing until the meaning appears. A LOT of people would edit that as they go, or think, “Woah woah this is a dialogue bunny trail! I need to back up.”
I leave those waffling moments in. Let them argue about cornflakes for a hot second. IT’S OK.
- I’m actually learning more about my characters for every word I write <— super important
- that scene might be dumb now, but it might be useful in rewrites
- DON’T DON’T DON’T GO BACK AND EDIT. ALWAYS GO FORWARD. NO BACKSPACING. Unless you are heinous at spelling like me and need to retype your own characters’ names. I…I would not do that. Ha ha.
Every scene SHOULD have a point, but in 1st drafts? It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. The world is a void and you’re screaming into it and laughing until you fall over.
#We #Love #Writing
3. DON’T BE SCARED TO MAKE HUGE CHANGES MID-DRAFT.
Because if you don’t wish for death while editing, are you even writing`?!? HA HA JUST KIDDING. OH WOW PLEASE SAVE ME FROM MYSELF.
The point is: sometimes I get violently hit with a way to make my book BETTER…and I’ll be 15,000 words in already. I don’t go back and add in that character. I just keep going like that character was always there. It’s OK. You can fix that in edits. Make a little note to yourself if needed.
Otherwise, onwards, son. Stop crying on the floor. Your ancestors were not puddles. Up, UP.
4. SMACKED IN THE FACE WITH JEALOUSY OVER SOMEONE ELSE’S SUCCESS? UNPACK THE REASONS WHY.
Look, it’s hard to see other’s success while you feel like a soggy piece of bread. It sucks. You want to feed yourself to the duckpond.
A good way to work on this is to talk yourself through the situation:
- “They’re writing much faster than me, but does it really MATTER????”
- “I have two favourite professional authors…but do I know how long it takes them to write a draft? Nope. Does it affect my enjoyment of their published books? NOPE.”
- “Maybe they’ve been writing longer than me so have more experience.”
- “Oh that person has been working FOR FAR LESS YEARS than me but has a book deal?? Maybe they’re a marginalised voice that needs to be heard? Maybe it was right-place-right-time. Maybe my book isn’t quite ready yet anyway. Maybe I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes in their journey.”
- “MY TIME IS COMING LIKE THE QUEEN OF THE CONQUERORS.”
- “I support them = they support me.”
- “Their first draft looks SO MUCH BETTER than mine, but does it matter??? Everyone has to edit!”
Mate, it literally matters 0% how you get to the end of a book.
Just GET THERE. And honestly if you actually enjoy yourself and take pride in whatever breadcrumbs you’re putting onto the page? Then you’re going to enjoy this.
5. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS JUST KILL OFF YOUR CHARACTERS.
This is the kind of quality advice you come to me for. Don’t @ me with your questions. I’m not here to make sense.
6. IF YOUR SCENES ARE TOO SHORT, TRY FLESHING OUT WHAT’S ALREADY HAPPENING.
I mean OBVIOUSLY this isn’t a problem for me. (I say while I murder my 100K first drafts.) But if you find your little weedy NaNo book is look like a prune that’s been in the bath too long, instead of a fat plum — you’ll start to panic you won’t hit the 50K because you don’t have enough to say.
HOW TO MAKE FATTER SCENES:
- Feed your scenes small chocolate pastries.
- Not working?
- OK feed them to yourself. Let’s not waste anything here.
- Next look at what’s coming up in your book (ex: they have to steal the ancient cured dagger)…so make something interesting happen on the JOURNEY THERE. Oh! A new scene!
- Make dialogue longer so we get to know characters better.
- Remember to add in snippets of thoughts and feelings.
- ADD THE 5 SENSES INTO YOUR DESCRIPTION DANGIT, JANET, THIS WILL IMPROVE YOUR VISUALS 500%
- Instead of saying “they had a morose dinner” actually describe the morose dinner (and make sure to add in pivotal dialogue or thought processes that’ll impact the novel).
- Feed everyone more chocolate pastries because by this point why not.
7. BUY A REALLY COOL WRITERS MUG AND KEEP IT NEARBY FOR COFFEE OR TO CATCH YOUR TEARS.
I’m sure this is quality advice on this quality blog where I’ve only called you a piece of bread in a duckpond once.
You’re doing fine, sweetie. Keep going.
8. TREAT YOUR WRITING AS SOMETHING IMPORTANT, NOT AS THAT “OH THIS HOBBY WILL NEVER GO ANYWHERE” THING.
Unless you just want it to be a lowkey hobby? Then do what you want, my little Loki.
But otherwise, never never never talk yourself down.
HERE ARE SOME THINGS I NEVER WANT TO HEAR YOU SAY TO YOURSELF:
- My book is dumb.
- I’m not the best writer there is so I’ll never get published.
- I CAN’T FIND MY BRAIN WHAT BOX DID I PUT IT IN.
- If I don’t finish this book, I failed.
- If I can’t write fast then I failed.
- I don’t really deserve to be published because other people work harder than me.
- I’ll never figure out what I’m doing.
HERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD SAY INSTEAD:
- My book sucks right now, sure, but I can make it better.
- I’m not the best writer there is, but I love telling stories so why shouldn’t I tell them??!
- If I don’t finish or like this book later, I’ll write another one.
- OH WOW! THAT’S THE BOX I LEFT MY BRAIN IN HAHA I’M SO GLAD I FOUND IT.
- I don’t have the time/energy/resources to work really really hard at publishing, but if I WANT it super badly, I will make time for it when I can.
- My writing is IMPORTANT. It’s not a hobby.
- I DO HAVE MORE THAN ONE BOOK INSIDE ME. IT’S OK. THEY’LL COME WHEN THEY’RE READY.
- It’s totally fine if I sacrifice my sibling under the full blood moon to aid my writing process.
- The more I write, the better I’ll get.
- I AM A WRITER IF I’VE WRITTEN 50 WORDS OR 50,000 WORDS.
I’m not even joking, it took me till my 21st manuscript to be unashamedly proud of every word I write.
Hopefully it’ll be faster for you. But self-destructive thinking is the WORST. You need to be your #1 fan. And, hey, I acknowledge my writing still sucks a lot! I cry over my mother * that I think my book is dumb and will never nevvvvvver work.
But do you know what? I have a 2-book deal.** I drafted that book and thought it was absolute trash…and then it got better. Look I’ll always get rejections, have to do huge edits, or write something I might not love or that my editor might not love. But I’m telling myself that (A) I love writing and I deserve to be a writer, and (B) the world is over-populated anyway so human sacrifices are fine. ***
* She has an umbrella and raincoat for these days so she’s cool with it.
** BAM HIT ‘EM WITH THE SELF-PROMO AGAIN. PEOPLES, I SWEAR I JUST CAN’T SHUT UP ABOUT IT.
*** Juuuuust kidding. I think. Please don’t look in my freezer.
9. TAKE TIME OFF IF YOU CAN AND TELL YOUR FAMILY YOU’RE DEAD TO THEM.
Obviously not everyone can do this, but IF YOU CAN, try to put aside specific times for writing. I’m lucky enough that I can take 3 days off and put in 8+ hours writing.
But anyway, if your family doesn’t like this idea, get some fake blood and be creative.
Make sacrifices. Writing is important.
You can sacrifice…
- endless scrolling through social media
- sleep (get up earlier!)
- watching TV / movies
- (although make sure if you’re in writing for the LONG HAUL that you refill your creative tank!! don’t work empty!! you will die!!)
- random teenage boys
- your weird cousin (unless you are the weird cousin)
- socialising (don’t cut yourself off forever, but hey this draft will be over sooner the faster you go)
- other hobbies
- eating food, i mean, you can exist on air
10. DO THE BULK OF YOUR WRITING WITHOUT ACTUALLY WRITING A THING.
Isn’t this clever? This is what we go to Hogwarts for. dARK MAGIC.
OK fine. I’ll be specific. If you think about what you want to write BEFORE you sit down to write it, you have way less time panicking at a blank page. I write a ton of my scenes “in my head” while I go for a walk. I also outline pretty intensely as I’ve mentioned to avoid writer’s block.
This is the PERFECT time to ignore reality —-> get sucked into your own world. I personally adore “living” in my own head intensely while I draft. I’m fascinating ok. Super humble too. But don’t be scared to really really think about your book all the time. Don’t forget to like breathe/eat/communicate with humans/work/take breaks…but let yourself be immersed!
This is a super fun exploration. A BEAR HUNT! You’ll probably die via being eaten by a bear, but not before you’ve had fun.
RIGHT. YOU ARE SO PREPARED YOU ARE BASICALLY A PEAR.
I shall shout vague encouragements at you at all times. Especially on twitter. (Actually I’m just kidding, I’ll probably be pithy over there and ask what is wrong with writers.) But it’ll be fun. Join me.
And just remember I’m not doing NaNoWriMo until later in November. So you all have a great chance to beat me. Go for it.