Ink Thinkin

Random thoughts from Dy Larson of Ink Think, freelance editor and copywriter

Friday, November 03, 2006

NaNo Tips from an (almost) Novice

I changed my mind and brought him back - he's not dead, just missing. I haven't decided yet if I want to kill him off or not. It would be closer to the true story my novel is loosely based on to let him live, but, from a plot perspective it would be a lot easier on me if he dies. I'll have to think about it some more.

So... On to the Nano tips:

1. Get a calendar JUST for Nano. I got one from my municipal liaison at the kick-off meeting and 30 stickers. Ours are stars, but get whatever floats your boat. Mark each day with the total word count you should be at, ending with 50K on the 30th. Each day you make the count (which is a minimum based on 50K divided by 30 and assuming you write every day) give yourself a sticker.

Ex. We had a five year-old emergency at 4am today. She went back to sleep, but I didn't. By the time 2pm rolled around I only had 900 words for the day and really wanted a nap. She went to bed at 830 and the only thing that kept me up was that I desperately wanted to put that damn star on the calendar, which meant heading back to the keyboard. It may or may not be dreck, but by golly, there's 5300 words of it now.

2. Go to the events. I was so stoked after the kick-off on the 29th that the 30th and 31st felt like the slowest days ever. Knowing you are not the only insane person in your geographic area and that other people have, in fact, managed to do this helps. Real people, that you can have a cup of coffee with during a write-in rather than the faceless handles on the NaNo forums. Here in Austin we have the youngest NaNo winner (someone who achieves the 50K in 30 days) ever at 13 (2005). She's 14 this year and by golly if she can do it, so can I. Right?

3. Turn OFF the inline spell/grammar check on your word processing software. The whole point is to free yourself from your inner editor and just crank it out. If you don't see those little wavy red lines from where you were typing too fast it is a LOT easier.

4. Turn off your monitor. This has been a big help to me this year. I'm a full-time notebook computer user, but have an LCD panel & dock on my desk. When I turn off the monitor I am freed from the editor since I cannot see what I am typing (and can stare at the keyboard, if necessary, if you're worried over typos). I am also freed from the pressure. It's much easier to resist the urge to constantly hit the "Recount" button in Word if I can't see the screen. And if things are going slowly, I cannot see how little space I've filled. If I'm on a roll there's no visual cue telling me, "Quit, you made it already."

That's it, so far. Thanks to these handy tricks (oh, yea, quoting lyrics or poetry is good for upping your word count, too. Just remember, if you want to work your manuscript up for publication you must either remove these sections or trim them to "Fair Use" snippets, and receive permission to use them from the copyright holders.) I am THREE HUNDRED TEN words over my minimum word count on day three. Which is good since my ILs are coming tomorrow and my time with the keyboard is going to be a little short over the weekend.

Good luck & happy writing--I got my red star and I'm going to bed.



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