Nanowrimo: Week 1 Check-in

Hey there, Nano participants! It’s been a week. How are you all doing? Racking up the word count? Or are you falling behind and starting to panic?

Writing to a deadline or to a goal can be challenging for a lot of people, even those who have done so before. The key is to tackle the project in small chunks and try not to get overwhelmed by the big picture. If you start looking at how many words you have left to write, or the number of days remaining in November, it’s all too easy to give it up as an impossible task. But it’s not impossible, as you can see from all the first-time novelists who finish Nanowrimo each year.

So, a few more ideas to keep you going:

~ Squeeze writing time in where you can over the course of the day. Don’t think you have to sit down and churn out all 1,667 words in one session. If your day is busy, try to get down 250 words here or 500 words there. Take a notebook with you on your lunch break or when you’re waiting for your car to go through the car wash. You can always type those scribbled paragraphs up later when you can get back to your computer.

~ You should be done with the introductory section of your novel and into the middle, so remember to throw challenges at your protagonist. Keep them hopping! That will not only help you add words, but it will keep your story moving and interesting. You want your readers to turn those pages, anxious to find out what happens next.

~ Remember to keep motivations in mind as you write. That goes for both your protagonist and your other characters as well. Everyone has their own agenda and it’s not always going to match up to your hero’s or heroine’s goals. In fact, better if there are some collisions along the way.

~ Don’t forget to engage the senses. If your word count is low, it’s possibly because you’re focusing so hard on what happens next that you’re not taking time to envision the scene in your mind and translate that to the paper. You don’t want to describe every single detail, but some visuals as well as sounds, smells and so on will go a long way toward putting your reader into the middle of the action with your characters — and toward bumping up that word count.

~ If you’re really stuck on something — a scene, plot point, character — skip that section and keep moving. Just remember to put a placeholder into the text so you remember to address the issue later. Something as simple as [To Come] or [TK] will be easy to search for when you figure out how to solve your problem.

If you’re way behind on your word count, don’t sweat it. Just keep plugging away, and know that you’re not alone. Many participants take a while to get into their story before they’re able to write large blocks of text each day. Try to set aside an afternoon over next weekend or an evening one day this week when you can really sit down and get some writing accomplished. Be sure to stock up on snacks and your favorite beverage beforehand, to eliminate some excuses to walk away from the keyboard. If you need encouragement, be sure to check out the Nanowrimo site for write-ins or other participants near you. A cheering section is always a good motivator.

Whether you’re working on a Nano novel or just your latest project, good luck and happy writing!