October 31, 2006

Tips, Tricks, and Treats

Happy Halloween! Has anyone else noticed that the Blogger logo on the login page has vampire teeth? Very cute. Hope everyone has something enjoyable planned for the day, whether it's encouraging small children's cavities, dressing up for a party, or enjoying a quiet evening at home with a book or movie. We'll be doing A and C, with a couple of friends over, since we did B over the previous weekend (you can read all about it and see pictures on my personal aquafortis blog).

Today I have one rhetorical question and a handful of tips for those who might be embarking on NaNoWriMo tomorrow. Last year was my first time participating, but I managed to get to that golden 50,000. I'll share with you a few ideas that helped me along, plus a couple of others that I just ran across.

But first: the rhetorical question. I was reading National Geographic with my toast this morning and read a short blurb about, basically, a scientist who heard about two new undocumented whale species and got a grant to go find them. Now, how come when a scientist decides they have some brainchild that they absolutely must drop everything and go after, people react by saying "That's wonderful, dear! Here's some grant money." But when a writer starts talking about that novel they're working on that they think is brilliant and worthwhile, people just say, "Uh, yeah...let me know when it's published." Anyway. It was just a rhetorical rant. And I'm sure it oversimplifies things so please do not write to tell me that I've got it all wrong about scientists. ;)

So, on to the advice! Here, in no particular order but numbered in reverse, are A. Fortis's Five Fabulous Fwriting Ftips For Fnanowrimo. (Say that five times fast!)

Tip #5: Getting Started, from East Bay Municipal Liaison Donna Summer: "If you open your empty document and find yourself completely stymied before you've entered a single word (been there, twice), try starting with setting. Where is your book happening at? What does it look like? Commit to two pages of setting, and that will take away the pressure of that mighty expanse of white page."

Tip #4: Quotes On Writing, from a comic book I randomly purchased and (quite fortuitously) read yesterday entitled Kabuki: The Alchemy by David Mack:
"...writing is like physical exercise. What counts is how much you can do after you think you are done. Then the real challenge begins. If you push through the barriers of your comfort zone, you hit a second wind. It is mostly just showing up and doing it that counts."

The character then went on to quote Somerset Maugham: "Someone asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. 'I write only when inspiration strikes,' he replied. 'Fortunately it strikes every morning at 9:00 sharp.'"

Tip #3: How the Hell Do I Write a Novel in a Month? The first trick is to break that question down into smaller bite-sized parts. First, you go to the NaNoWriMo website and sign up. Be sure to sign up for your local area forum(s) and maybe add a few writing buddies if people you know are participating. (Guilt at others' accomplishment is a surprisingly effective motivator.) Then, you read the instructions and realize that A) you only have to get to 50,000; B) it doesn't have to be any good; and C) nobody's checking up on you except yourself. Then, every day for the month of November, you sit down for twenty minutes or an hour or three hours--whatever you can spare--turn off that internal censor and write, write, write. Think of it as one long, structured freewriting exercise.

Tip #2: Getting Ideas: Not sure what to write about every day for the next month? Well, take a look at that list of back-burner ideas that you've been meaning to do something about but just haven't gotten around to. Or maybe there's something that's been rattling around in your head, tickling your brain, for the past week or so, that might make a good seed for a story. Pick up a book of inspiring photography or artwork and free-associate for a while. Buy a book of writing ideas/prompts. Take a look at some old work that you've given up on; maybe it's time to tackle it again in a new form.

Tip #1: Practicalities: A novel? Doesn't that take, well, planning and meticulous labor? NOT THIS MONTH!! If you find yourself getting bogged down by silly details such as logic or consistency, tell yourself, "NO, NO, NO! NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY!" Then put your fingers back on that keyboard (typing really helps--I don't suggest doing NaNo in longhand) and start with a word. Then a sentence. Then you're off and running again. Save the editing for later. During NaNo, editing is for chumps.

Hope some of you decide to take the plunge!


MotherReader said...

You've almost convinced me.

TadMack said...

Yay! Big A little a is doing it too! Go NaNoWriMo-ers!