Sunday, September 20, 2009

Get the Most from NaNoWriMo -- Never Fight Fair

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) presents particpants with a challenging goal: complete a 50,000 word draft in 30 days. We want you to make the best use possible of those 30 days and to create the best draft possible. NaNoWriMo organizers admit "you'll write a lot of crap." Here's our second installment in how create a higher quality draft instead of 50k words worth of--well, you know.

Key to creating a higher quality draft is developing an author's mindset (the first step in the Novelist's Boot Camp Improved Writing Process), and a key part of that mindset is the well-known military principle of "divide and conquer ,"or as we teach in our workshops "never fight fair." You and your imagination and creativity against a 50,000-words-in-month-draft-manuscript goal is fighting fair. You'll have to create characters, story line, plot, setting, action, dialog and so on as you go, and write each scene as well.  You'll come to NaNoWriMo with whatever skill you have naturally and whatever training you've developed along the way.  It will be a fair and tough fight.

Even if you break down the 50,000 word goal into daily writing goals (about 1700 words a day) or hourly writing goals (about a typed, double spaced page an hour in an eight hour day), those are still challenging goals. Remember, those are writing goals, not dreaming up characters, setting, story line, action, and so on.

But we don't want to fight fair--we want your imagination and creativity to overpower the tasks or goals. We can't make your imagination and creativity bigger in the time provided, but we can make the tasks smaller.  The first way we'll do so is by dividing the tasks in NaNoWriMo (and the tasks in creating a quality draft) into much smaller chunks.  How small? Small enough that your imagination and creativity will have no problem accomplishing them. Small enough that you'll have lots of creative power left in reserve. Small enough that you'll gloat at how easy accomplishing those goals were, and small enough that you'll grow confident in your ability to easily accomplish the next goal.

So let's begin. In the next few days, write down the following and fill in the blanks.

1. "My book is a genre" (Romance? Romantic suspense? Science Fiction novel? Work of Historical Fiction? Mystery?)
2. "The things I really enjoy when I read my book's genre are: ________________, ____________, ...)"  What is you like about the genre? The description of the time and place, the characters' complex personalities, the forensic detail of police procedurals, what? List these.
3. "in my book's genre readers expect: _________________, ______________, ..." What are readers' expectations of your genre? For example, in romances we expect happy or emotionally satisfying endings, in mysteries we expect the detective and the criminal to have a one-on-one confrontation, in Science Fiction we expect the futuristic worlds and technology to impact every scene.  List these.

What if you get stuck?  Don't re-double your efforts; make the goal smaller!

Can't decide on a genre? Make your goal smaller--eliminate one genre you don't want to write.  Then eliminate one more, then one more, and so on.  Can't list all the things you like about the genre your book will be in?  List one, then put your work away. Come back later to list another, later for one more, and so on.
Take a few days to accomplish these tasks. When you do, you'll have focused your creativity on what you want to write, have in your subconscious mind (and your conscious mind) what needs to go into that book to make it enjoyable and satisfying, set yourself up for success when we create our next building block, and accomplished your first writing goal.


1 comment:

karim said...

A valuable post and it much helpfull to all.Thanks a lot for your post.

Karim - Positive thinking