November is National Novel Writing Month. Each November (and now June and August -- Camp NaNoWriMo), writers around the world gather (or stay home) to tap out or scribble 50,000 words.
I started doing NaNoWriMo back in 2009 and I've "won" (hit 50,000 words) every year. This year I also did Camp NaNoWriMo in August (won that one too) so this is my fifth NaNoWriMo. I'm going to share some tips and tricks I've learned over the years in case (and in the hopes) you'd care to join me (please do!).
I'll break it down into three sections: plotting, writing, and revisions.
The first few years, I was a "pantster" (meaning I just wrote whatever was coming out of my brain -- no plotting, no planning, no forethought), but I've learned since then that I'm the type of person who needs an outline. I then experimented with very strict, elaborate plotting (things like The Snowflake Method, which is awesome) and realized that burned me out and I had no desire to start the actual writing.
This year, during the August Camp NaNoWriMo, I did some math and created a very basic plot structure. I also wrote a very basic outline, writing down specific scenes before I typed them out each day. It was effortless, easy, fun, and joyous. I've found what works for me.
My advice? Try doing it a different way every time until you figure out what works best for you -- and whatever works, know it probably won't be like everybody else's process and be fine with that. You are unique and your plotting method will be too. It will also grow and change over the years. That's good!
I'm also visual -- so things like collages (cut out pictures from magazines clued to a big piece of cardboard), Pinterest boards, etc. really help me. I create playlists as well -- soundtracks are especially good when you're trying to figure out pacing.
Here's a few things to get you started: The Process of Plotting from WriteOnCon2012, and Create A Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps
Some people can crank out thousands of words in a day. Unless I've really thought about it (or not thought at all), I find it almost impossible to write more than 4,000 words a day. I'm much better off making a goal of writing 2,000 words and only going on if I've carefully explored the next section and know what I'm doing. During a NaNo write-in, I wrote 8k but it was complete crap.
Again, see what feels right to you -- you might only be able to write 1500 words a day at first (I think the NaNoWriMo goal is 1667 a day to total 50,000 words in a month). Or, you might find 3000 is your sweet spot. Or, you know, you might be one of the crazies (I'm not jealous...) that can pull out 10k a day. Whatever it is, know that there are others who are either slower or faster than you. Rest in the fact that everyone has a different pace and that there are authors who write several books a year and there are those who write one every decade.
Some food for thought: one of my favorite articles, 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing While Thinking Like A Comedy Writer; and another good one from WriteOnCon 2012, Sustaining the Writing Groove.
I'm going to be offering primarily other peoples' advice since I haven't sat down and done revisions in a while. I'm still learning how and while it can be frustrating, I don't think it should or will be all the time.
Advice: Once you've written your novel/play/script/whatever, hide it and forget about it for a few weeks. Let your brain return to normal and once you've given it a rest, pick it back up again. There are more detailed revision processes, but that's the biggest thing I've heard/read about -- just make sure you're distant enough to let your inner editor out without ripping your soul/story apart (right away).
Some things others have to say on the matter: The Index Card and Revisions and The Revision Checklist, both from WriteOnCon 2012 (seriously, a fabulous online writing convention -- I'm 'attending' next year!)
Hope that was helpful! I think everyone should experience NaNoWriMo at least once. It's such a fun process and I've learned more every year. Our local chapter is brilliant and I can't wait to see everyone again!
During NaNoWriMo I'll be posting about my progress, but I'll still be doing reviews and First Lines in between.
Next Wednesday we'll be discussing World-Building -- I found a 30 Day Guide and I'm on Day 6. It is amazing and it's already making me think deeper in terms of story.
See you on Friday for First Lines!