Kira Brady

Nov 2
NaNoWriMo tips and tricks

Happy November, also known as National Novel Writing Month! I’ve signed up, but haven’t had the chance to start on the new project yet. This will be my third NaNo, so as an old hat I’m going to offer some stellar advice for all you solders in the trenches this month.

Signing the contract after polishing and selling my NaNo2008 novel

First off, some inspiration: HEARTS OF DARKNESS, which garnered me an agent and a three book publishing contract, and Publishers Weekly named one of the best books of summer 2012, can trace its humble beginnings to NaNo 2008. I started the book November 1 and finished the month with 55k. The final version is 100k and has taken many different paths from that original fast draft, but that is the nature of writing. Repeat with me: The first draft is quantity. The second draft is quality. Save your perfectionism for editing in December!

Now for the tricks, I offer three software programs that I use to write.

1. WRITE OR DIE: This program is ideal for NaNo, and is free if you use the web edition. The desktop edition is $10. You enter your time or word goal into the program (for NaNo you need to average 1,667 words per day), and start writing. If you stop writing at any point, the program will start to flash red. Keep still, and a siren will start blaring. Still don’t type, the program will start deleting your precious words. This excellent program might sound terrifying at first, but you must remember that your NaNo fast draft is all about quantity over quality. Write or Die will turn off your internal editor so that you can get words on the page. You can worry about fixing those words in December. The blank page is your enemy: go forth and vanquish!

2. FREEDOM: The internet is not your friend. Promo! You might hear. Network with other writers! You might tell yourself. But the truth is that all those social media outlets are leeches on your productivity (and spirit!). You could spend your five minute break writing OR checking facebook. Which will make you happier in the long run? That’s right, writing the damn book. Freedom will give you complete freedom from the temptation of the internet. You turn it on for a specified amount of time, and it cuts you off. Sure, you could turn off your router for the same effect, except it’s pretty easy to turn your router back on oh-so-briefly to check one little thing. Next thing you know, you’ve wasted a half hour looking at lolcat pictures.

3. ANTI-SOCIAL: Maybe you need your online dictionary and thesaurus while you write (not during NaNo you don’t!). Maybe you need Pandora, so you don’t want to shut off the whole internet. Anti-social allows you to just shut off the social parts of the internet, like facebook, twitter, gmail, flickr, and goodreads. I use this a lot.

Armed with your procrastination fighting tools, go forth and discover your destiny, dear writers. I wish you many fruitful pages.

Are you NaNoing? What are you working on? What are your biggest hurdles to writing?

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