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Catherine Ann x

Thursday, 7 November 2013

NaNoWriMo... A “Tip” Down Memory Lane...

Ahahahahaha. Sometimes, I simply crack myself up. I “fend la poire” in fact... that’s French (I sincerely hope) for “I split the pear” which is like “I split my sides laughing”.
Horrific puns and a Modern Languages lecture aside, I’m delighted to tell you that the first week of NaNoWriMo is over. Even though it wasn’t possible for me to take part this year , I’m still ever so excited about this.

It means that for a whole week, thousands of people all around the world have been imagining, creating, working on their novels simultaneously. Together for the past week they have created characters, painted unique settings, spent an hour or so immersed in their own world... all at the same time, all part of something much bigger. There’s something pretty wonderful about that.

By my estimation, those efficient bunnies among us will have reached around 11,700 words if they are working at pace. Some may have reached 20,000, some maybe 100. But they’re all working towards two very distinct goals: to reach 50,000 by the end of November, but also simply to enjoy writing and gain something from it. For me, the latter is so much more important.

You may have already read about My NaNoWriMo Experience but I thought I’d share a few little pointers. I am by no means an expert, but regular readers will know that I love giving advice about things whether I have a clue about them or not!

I did reach my 50,000 words though, so I have some experience in the feild of writing nonsense for 30 days. It was a pretty stressful time with all my other commitments, but here’s how I did it.
·        
SWEETS! Just as Edmund sold out his siblings for Turkish Delight in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, most of us are hugely affected by the incentives and temptations a tasty treat brings. I used food as a huge incentive. I’d reward myself a Haribo every 100 words during the week, and then would stock up on junk food like crisps or chocolate for marathon night-time sessions at the weekends. Needless to say, I didn’t lose any weight in November... but hey, winter was upon us, insulation and all that. Another trick was to whip up a cake and put it in the oven. My favourite lemon drizzle cake  takes about forty minutes to cook, so I’d set the timer, write for forty minutes, then be rewarded with a gorgeous cake at the end.

·         JUST KEEP SWIMMING... The key here is to keep writing, writing, writing, even if you don’t feel like it’s any good. For once, you’re being judged on quantity rather than quality. Every word you write helps you get to know your characters that bit more, and you always learn by doing and improve. Write. Rewrite, but of course don’t delete. Just keep going. Who knows? You might hit on a great idea.

·         GET EXCITED. I read somewhere once that the first thing you should do when you’re writing a novel is tell people you’re writing a novel. Of course writing’s a huge personal thing, it can even be a bit cringey at times, and you might not feel like talking about something so private, but trust me... nobody’s going to laugh at you. When I told people about NaNo, they were actually very impressed I was taking on the challenge, and had all kinds of questions to ask. Use this opportunity to take pride in your favourite hobby. Talk to your writing buddies if you’re lucky enough to have them, but also to your parents and other friends. Tell them what twists and turns your story is taking and it will get your imagination flowing and enthusiasm pumping!

·         CHECK YOUR WORDCOUNT. I had a nightmarish 30th November 2012. I still shudder to think about it. There I was, with my 50,000 and something words all saved on my laptop. I was bursting with pride and ready to submit my huge chunk of novel and see what the ceritifcate looked like. I’d been staying up late, I was tired, I was sick to death of the very sound of my keyboard... but I’d done it.
Or so I thought. I copied and pasted into NaNo’s official wordcounter, but whatever way they were counted, it only added up to about 49,500. I very nearly snapped, I can tell you now. I had about an hour and a half to submit my novel before the deadline, and I’d fallen short! What was I going to do? In the end, I had one of my characters write a strongly worded letter to NaNoWriMo about it. She was just as infuriated as I... was she to be trapped in my laptop forever? Moral of the story, paste in your words a few days early to count them... just in case!

·         TURN THE MUSIC UP. I saw this picture recently and it made me think of NaNo...




When I began thinking about the novel I worked on for Nano, some years previous, I heard a few songs that reminded me of a character, event, the setting etc... so I started writing them down. Before long, I had my very own “soundtrack” to the story. It seemed to convey how my characters might be feeling, or how the story was playing out. I listened to this playlist throughout NaNo and it really put me in the mood. Find some “writing” songs and it might help you... it worked for me!


I thought it might be fun to publish the soundtrack here at Unlucky For Some for you to view. Then you could look up the songs (or perhaps you already know them) and try to guess what the story is about... we could make a little game of it, if anyone’s interested.

Just a thought!

Happy novelling,


Catherine x 

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