NaNoWriMo: Lost in translation?

Not that I would have much time on my hands, but I need a little bit of variety [you know work – writing – sleep – work – writing… whereas my work consist of writing, too, so basically it’s: writing (news) – writing (fiction) – sleep – writing (news) -…] and also an outlet to share what I have learned from National Novel Writing Month so far.

I think, to share my thoughts is probably the best way of getting rid of that imaginary list I created in my head. It consists mainly of all the things, I found helpful during my obsessive fictional writing in November and sharing them here allows me to create some space in my memory for my story, without losing the things I remembered.

So, here are Sabrina’s Guidelines to Successful Obsessive Writing:

☞ Everything you have ever heard or read or imagined about NaNoWriMo is true. Everything. Period. (It really is, believe me, the good things as well as the bad things, it is all oh so true.)

☞ Don’t forget to adjust your time zone on your NaNoWriMo page. (I only realised yesterday that even though my location was set on London, UK, where I am writing from, the time zone was still set on German time, so I lost one hour in the NaNoWriMo statistics, so make sure you get it right. How? Go to “User Settings” and scroll down until you see that little thingy where it says time zone and compare the time it says there to the time there is in your part of the world and then adjust if necessary. Easy as!)

☞ Don’t you ever dare touching that word that you have already written ever again! (Unless your changes make the sentence significantly longer, in that case – but only in that case – it’s okay, I guess.)

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☞ Get yourself in the mood! (For the last two nights, I wrote quite a long chapter about island hopping in Greece. I read lots of articles before and while writing, but I still quite couldn’t get these words coming. So I went on YouTube, searched for a Sirtaki, the traditional Greek dance music, and played it non-stop. It probably drove my flattie nuts, but it helped me so much to get into the feeling of a holiday on Rhodes… the power of music!)

☞ Take a break! (I took a break pretty much the whole second week, which didn’t mean I didn’t write at all, it just meant, I skipped two days and wrote less on the other days, but it freed my mind and after that I gushed out a whole waterfall of words, so yes, breaks are productive indeed. And if you want them to be even more productive, use them for research, if you are writing about a topic that is not that familiar to you.)

☞ Update your stats regularly – it will encourage you to see the blue curve going higher and higher and you will feel incredibly productive! (And, hello, you will also feel extremely significant, after all, you can watch your own personal novel grow bigger and bigger!)

☞ Force yourself to keep writing – writing is the best cure against writer’s block! (For real. I’m not kidding here, it really is. You don’t believe me? Well then go and try it out!)

☞ Back up your data! (Seriously, folks, this is so extremely important! Put it on a memory stick and update it as often as possible – my computer just crashed yesterday and I was so gutted when I lost a page which I hadn’t saved and from which I thought it was the masterpiece of my novel so far!)

☞ Give your friends an update on your word count, even if they don’t want to know! (Even if they’re not interested, they’ll pretend to be and say something like: “50 words out of and it’s day 20 already? Wow!” – and you feel encouraged to write, so that tomorrow you can surprise them with an even higher number of words! – Facebook and Twitter status updates are perfect for this, by the way.)

☞ Use Twitter for your purposes! (Research, questions to your followers if you need an opinion on something and the participation in “sprints” are a few things I can recommend doing with Twitter during NaNoWriMo.)

☞ Write at your own speed! (You don’t have to write 1667,66666666666… words per day to achieve your goal by the end of this month. Take your time. Write as slowly or as quickly as you want to be. And if you don’t feel inspired, drop your pen and take a break!)

☞ Don’t feel like you need to participate in NaNoWriMo forums and activities if you don’t want to or don’t have the time. (I don’t.)

☞ However, do have a look at the “Reference Desk” in the “Tips and Strategies”-section. It is very helpful indeed. (And very entertaining on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Some of these questions are just too hilarious to be true!)

☞ Don’t shy away from getting help! (Talk to someone about your novel if you’re stuck with your plot, or simply use one of the plot creators on the web!)

☞ Write in chapters and use stylistic devices like paragraphs and other layout options to break up your layout and to get out of tricky situations regarding your plot. (You can’t imagine how many times the star triple or the end of a chapter have saved me from getting a serious plot-crisis!)

☞ Be yourself! Observe yourself and other people and try to make your characters (if they are human) as human as possible. (It doesn’t matter if your character is suffering from stage fright, claustrophobia or has an imaginary friend – it makes him or her human and that is what counts! Also, try to put a little bit of yourself in, let shine through who you are to make your good piece a unique and therefore great piece!)


Later this week there will be a collection of important, helpful and entertaining links regarding NaNoWriMo and writing in general coming up, so make sure to come back to check it out!


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