On Day 8 of #NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month — I’m still fulfilling my commitment to spend two hours every day working on my new novel, The Romantics. NaNoWriMo is a marathon, an endurance test for writers. The official goal of participating is to draft a new novel of at least 50,000 words. Yes, 50,000 words. That divides up into more than 1,600 words a day. Remember having to write essays in school? This is an essay every single day.
My self-determined goal is not to count words this time, but hours, in order to finish last year’s NaNoWriMo creation.ehemoth of a story that needs to be tamed. As you can imagine, it sags in the middle. No, actually, it gets amnesia in the middle — why did I take a day trip to Portofino, and what is that castle doing in my story, and just how is it going to improve my terrible relationship with my only sister?
My primary way is to write for two hours first thing every morning. Just showing up — or #buttinchair as some call it — is my way of courting my muse. I can only hope by just showing up, the muse will really steer me and help me kill my (pointless) darlings to get that middle as lean as if it had been doing 50 situps every day in those two hours.
5 Ways to Make Your Daily Goal — Word- or Hour-Count
If you’re doing a #NaNoWriMo project this year, you may, like me, need some ideas to keep going, especially as we head toward the middle of the month. Here are 6 tools and writing tip for keeping at it:
- Keep the action rising in your story. This article from LitChart explains rising action it in clear terms.
- Reread some of your favorite author’s fiction. Analyze what that writer does that you love so much. In my case, Jane Austen has marvelous tricks — using weather, unreliable narrators, and other things she practically invented in fiction. This amusing article from Vox identifies her novels’ best qualities.
- Add a new character. Even if a minor one, it can liven things up and exercise your creative muscles.
- Research your setting. The details of place — whether a country or a room — give life to your story. Especially on days when you feel blocked, deepen the detail of your descriptions. A unique place is like another character.
- Read your favorite book on the craft of fiction. My current one is Story Genius by Lisa Cron. One item of her advice is golden for me: attend to the main character’s backstory and not front-loading it into your book but sprinkling it into many places where it bears on the current action.
You Can Do This! Day 8 of #NaNoWriMo — Success Is Simple
The main thing you can do is believe in your power of storytelling and your skill in writing. At whatever level you practice the art, you’re the master of what you have to say. And you do have a lot to say! Here are some of my favorite memes of writerly encouragement. Look at one as often as you need — and do you have some you love? Leave them here in the comments. No one writes alone! It’s a community venture.