Usually I'm here to critique people, but I only got the memo that I'm up yesterday, and... well... in case you don't know, it's Camp NaNoWriMo.
I'm taking part, mostly because I think NaNo's awesome. Mainly though, I'm about four months behind on my writing goals, and my Camp NaNo goal will catch me up on two. (I'm aiming to write 75k words.)
Since my mind is pretty much locked onto Camp NaNo this month, I thought I'd share some tips that help me get through writing marathons. (Actually, I do them much more than you'd think.)
But be warned. I'm not going to give you traditional advice. I'm basically sharing what works for me and why.
My first tip to get through Camp NaNo (especially if you have a huge goal set):
Work on multiple projects.
Now when I say this, I hear two camps of people screaming at me. "But I can't!" screams one side. "But the rules!" screams the other.
Easiest will be for me to go into the rules. Basically, NaNo is about writing a novel in thirty days. And furthermore, it's on an honesty system. It makes allowance for rebels of every creed. Including but not limited to:
1) People who started the story before and now want to finish it.
2) Script writers
3) Poets (Kudos, if you're one.)
4) And people working on more than one novel at a time.
All of the above qualify as winners when they hit 50k words or whatever.
Is any of it cheating? No. I think not. If I rebel, I'm not disadvantaging any other writer by doing so. So what do you have to lose?
Now onto the "But I can't!" camp. I admit that some of you really can only focus on one thing at a time. And those of you who have tried and failed to work on more than one project, you'll know you're someone who really can't work on more than one thing at a time.
However, I know from own experience that at least some of you aren't quite being honest. I also said "I can't", preferring to stick to one project at a time. Then one day I had an epiphany, where I realized how much time I wasted. See... if I only had one active project and it stalled, I'd wait for months for inspiration that would get me going again. And in those months, I often didn't write at all.
This stalling in a project can be murderous in NaNo, by the way. Because the words stop coming. So you try and force them. Which makes them less likely to come. And probably pushes the inspiration part further away. Odds are, your idea won't come back if you keep poking at it.
Multiple projects solve this.
It works like this. I have somewhere between three and seven (current record) fiction projects running at the same time. One is my priority project, which I try to work on every day. The others I work on at random, or as inspiration or interest strikes me. If I stall on any of them, I let it lie and move on with the other projects. (Temporarily prioritizing another book.) Believe it or not (and you'll only know if you try), this is actually a really liberating way to write.
It's saying that I HAVE TO WRITE 50k (or whatever) while saying BUT I GET TO PICK WHAT TO WORK ON.
This is especially useful when you have a shiny project that's diverting your attention from your current one. Write both, making the shiny one the carrot at the end of the stick. If you finish writing a chapter in your main project, you get to work on the SNI.
Because there's less pressure on performance, I've found I perform better. Whenever my project stalls and I work on something else, it now takes a few days to revert back to form. And the whole time it was stalled, I was still productive.
And my stats don't lie. I failed three NaNos the traditional way because I kept stalling at 30k (at most). Then April last year, I decided to try and write more than one project. I won easily. So in November, I did it again. I won while revising another book in the same month and moving house on the 19th. With all the packing afterwards.
If you're thinking that I won't finish any drafts this year... You're right. I might not. (Although I suspect I will.) But where NaNo has a way of wiping out writers faster than you can say "I'm a winner!", I'll be able to continue writing for the rest of the year. And by next month, I'll possibly have two or three books finished instead of one.
So if you've been feeling stuck and struggling to reach your goal, why don't you try adding one project to work on when you're tired of the first one? Could be that it'll make a huge difference to your writing.
Anyone else doing Camp NaNo? How's it going?
Anyone else doing Camp NaNo? How's it going?