Writing a Story: Start Writing

So you know your characters, you’ve created a summary or outline, and now you’re ready for NaNoWriMo!

For those who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, I’m here to give you the down and dirty. Basically, it’s a yearly event which happens in November. The idea is to write a novel in a month. Technically you don’t have to write a complete novel. Rather, you write 50,000 words of a novel in a month from start to finish. It comes out to be approximately 1,667 words a day for 30 days. You are allowed to do prep work before you start, such as creating characters and plotting. Just no writing the actual novel.

In all honesty, this is often the most difficult part about winning NaNoWriMo is writing. It’s easy to fall behind and quite difficult to catch up. A lot of writers are motivated the first few days, but the task of keeping at it day after day can get tiresome. It’s not just of NaNoWriMo, but it can be that way with writing in general.

Just Do It!

One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years is when it comes to writing, you just have to do it. I know, I know… it’s something I haven’t serious done since last NaNoWriMo, but still… that’s what it takes. Writers write. If NaNoWriMo is too much, start small. In fact,I finished I Loved You First by dedicating 100 words a day to the story. Some days I wrote more, but I committed to just 100 words each day for about 3 months, and voila! one day it was finished. 🙂

Wondering Mind

The thing with writing (at least for me) is it’s so easy to get distracted. I sit down to write for an hour and my mind spends 45 minutes of that time wandering. Even if my mind isn’t wandering, I can waste a significant amount of time just thinking about what I should write. Ah! Distractions! The bane of productivity.

I don’t know about others, but I have a short attention span. I’m the type of person who will “multi-task” to keep things interesting. Why in quotes? Well, multi-tasking really is just a way of jumping around from activity to activity, never really giving full attention to any one thing. In effect, it’s less efficient, but it can keep things interesting.

Helpful Tool

A couple of years ago, I found an awesome tool called Write or Die. I loved it so much, I purchased the desktop version for $10. It was one of the best $10 I’ve spent when it comes to writing. Here’s how it works. You set a word count goal for a set amount of time, then go for it. If you stop typing for a given amount of time, Write or Die will send you an attention getter. It can be a mild one, such as the screen slowly turning red (this works best for me) to obnoxious, loud noises (breaks my concentration and distracts me more than helps).

What I like about it is, it forces me to concentrate for a set amount of time. For me, that set amount of time is 15 minutes 500 words. Since 1,667 words a day will win NaNoWriMo, that means, I only have to dedicate 1 hour worth of writing time each day in order to win NaNoWriMo. I typically scatter those 4 15-minute blocks throughout the day as not to be so much of a hassle.

So, I highly recommend Write or Die. I honestly didn’t realize how distracted and inefficient I was, when it came to writing, until I started using Write or Die. It alerted me to the fact I was sitting down to write, but not writing. By the way, I started with the online version, which is free. Give it a shot, if you’re afraid to part with your $10.

Using allotted time effectively

So, you’ve set aside your time to write. You might have even picked up Write or Die. Here’s the thing, it’s hard to be efficient if you don’t know what to write. That’s one of the reasons I like breaking my slots into 15 minute increments. It allows me to consider what I’m going to write when I’m not writing. Then when it’s time to write, I just hit it. 15 minutes of putting down what I’ve been thinking about for hours.

So! Don’t waste time sitting in front of your laptop thinking about what you should write. When it’s time to use your writing time, write, and only write. You can think about what you should write while you’re washing dishes, doing menial tasks at work, changing diapers, or driving in the car. But when you dedicated time for writing, keep your fingers flying across the keyboard.

Only a few days left until November 1. Hope you all are ready. haha I’m not.

Share with us some suggestions you might have when it comes to writing.

Authors Helping Authors: What I gained from #NaNoWriMo 2012

Wednesday ended NaNoWriMo 2011.

This year was my second time around. I have to admit, the event was a little bumpier than I’d expected. In fact, I didn’t even start until day 2.

The thing was, I wasn’t sure I wanted to participate this year. I thought about all the projects I had underway and said I needed to knock those out first. I just didn’t have time for NaNo.

Then November 1 came around, and I accomplished all of… nothing. Wait a minute here, I said to myself. Isn’t this the month you’re going to get some work done? Okay… so I wasn’t starting on the right foot.

November 2: I realized the best way to be productive was to get over my goals and start that new project. I threw together a outline for Harem and got to it. I have to say, that missing day took me forever to make up. Day 18, I finally inched over the bar.

Every day was a struggle to get myself motivated. Even after I caught there were days I wanted to quit. I even slacked a few days, not meeting my minimum goal. Then I decided to give Write or Die a try.

Now here’s the thing with Write or Die. Last year I gave it go, and it was annoying as hell. I just couldn’t concentrate with all the blaring going on when I slacked. Now I don’t know if it’s because I had the wrong settings or if it’s changed since then, but the program was more distracting than helpful.

Everyone was tweeting about it in the #NaNoWriMo channel this year. As for me, my past experience wasn’t good so I avoided it… until just a few days before the end of NaNo, and you know what? It works!

The obnoxious blaring was gone. Instead the screen transitioned from white to a deep red when I slacked. And there is noise. I found that out the first time I tried the Desktop version. 🙂 I’m ashamed to admit, but I did get distracted and started web surfing my first attempt. I don’t know what it was playing, but it wasn’t obnoxious. It was more of a where’s that music coming from?

One thing for sure, it got me back on track without distracting me to the point I couldn’t concentrate.

I’ve been using Write or Die ever since. Set at 15 minutes, I can get anywhere from 350-550 words written. It’s turned writing from becoming a torturous chore which can easily take me ALL day to scrape out a few hundred words to a few 15-minute intervals of highly focused writing sprints.

Now that NaNoWriMo is over, I’ve made a goal of 1k words a day. And with Write or Die, it’s such an easy task to accomplish. I’m looking at 2-3 sessions (30-45 minutes) a day. Even when I was pumping out my first novel way back when I was full of motivation, I wasn’t this efficient.

So, this year, I’m recommending Write or Die. It has changed the way I write for the better. In fact, after my first day using it, I went to my husband and asked if I could purchase the Desktop edition. Yes… I went to my husband to get permission to spend $10 from my book royalties. I know… odd. I just feel better with his seal of approval when it comes to writing and blog related expenses, regardless of the source of the funds.

There you have it. A++ for Write or Die.