Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tips for Week 2: reposted

This blog has been reposted. Some changes have been made to reflect differences occurring over time. The original posting is here.


This is the week where you realize all that is wrong with your novel. This is the week where self-doubt attacks full force. This is the week where everything is dead-ended, stagnant, and so disgustingly awful that you can’t even face yourself.

Some of you were prepared. You wrote a couple double days last week, held an all-nighter, and provided yourself with a nice cushion for the agony of week 2. But if you didn’t prepare and fell behind, you can still recover. It’s part of the process. If you ride it out, I promise, week 3 will feel like magic.

Advice for week 2 comes in a few different categories: Plotting, Productivity, and Mindset. Here are some tips for each of those categories.

Plotting.

- Keep cool. Week 2 dumps you right where your middle begins. For Wrimos, the middle is about realizing how much of what they planned is (or isn’t) working. This is a panicky moment. Instead of freaking out, treat it like a plot problem. Try…

- Brainstorming. Scribble down all the questions you have, and all the problems you’re facing. If you can, try free-writing about one particular problem. Just open up a blank document and spill out all your thoughts. Write letters to your characters, or conduct interviews with them. And take showers! I’ve heard more than one Wrimo say that they come up with great ideas while brainstorming in the shower.

- Story-boarding. This is a method of outlining where you scribble down scene or chapter idea on a Stick-It note, and then paste these notes on a wall or board in linear order. This creates a visual image of your story and simplifies any plot problems you may be having.

Productivity.

- Sprint. In week 2, you’re not going to produce much. There’s no way around it. So change your game plan; for at least a little while, treat your writing session like a series of sprints instead of a marathon. Write for a 15 or 30 minute period, take a 15 minute break, and then write for another 15 minutes. These short bursts give your brain time to recover and maximizes your productivity.

- Compete. Grab a writer buddy or head over to the Nanowrimo forums and challenge someone to a Word War. It’s the same thing as writing in bursts, except when the time is up, everybody posts how much they wrote for comparison. It’s pretty amazing – your inner editor shuts right up when all you care about is how many words you write, not how good they are.

- Write what comes easiest to you. If you’re good at dialogue, but bad at setting, don’t worry about it. Write dialogue. For those of you who could write backstory ‘til the cows come home, go for it. It may suck, but so what? The point is to write any way you can.

Mindset.

- Get rid of distractions. You’ve heard all that stuff about no e-mails, turning off your cellphone and unplugging your internet – do that now. Write at midnight. Write in a café, away from all the distractions of home. Whatever it takes.

- Use goals and charts. Remember last week when I told you not to think too hard about your weekly wordcount? Now is the time to do so. Create a spreadsheet for your daily wordcount and check it before, or after, every writing session. DrWicked.comhas a fun catch-up calculator widget that tells you how many words you’ll need to write every day, if you’re going to finish on time. Make this wordcount your new daily goal.

- Make a commitment. Treat your writing sessions like a literal appointment. You wouldn’t skip a doctor’s appointment to do dishes, would you? How about reading a book instead of picking the kids up from school? Decide when you plan to write. Then do it.

I hope the tips help you all get through this tricky week. Me? Well, we all know I'm not Nanoing this month, but I've continued to write in my WIP, and I've added about a chapter to the wordcount. Plus I finally went out and submitted some of my writing: a piece of flash called "The Eye" to Flash Fiction Online, and a short story entitled "Delirium" to The Pedestal Magazine. These guys are pretty serious. We'll see how I fare! I also interviewed Pam Bachorz about her debut CANDOR, and will be posting that soon, along with continued Nano tips and interview question exercises. (phew)

How are you guys coming?

- Creative A

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