Sunday, 31 October 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010: It's Here, It's Everywhere and This Is How You'll Survive It

I have about 10 hours left at the time of writing this, until NaNoWriMo 2010 starts. I can't wait, I'm mortally afraid and I'm having problems sitting still. The only thing left on my To Do list is to clean, and then I'll be ready. I've been cooking like crazy all week, and now my freezer is about to burst with leftovers and microwave meals. My pantry is filled with potato chips and chocolates. I've dug up a candle to set the ambience in my otherwise rather dull writing area (i.e. my desk), and I've printed and organised my notes into a folder to have them readily available. I'm ready. Let's go.

Well, I can't start yet, can I? There is no cheating, and I don't plan on starting at midnight anyway (I'll be asleep...), but early on Monday morning there will be no stopping me! Or will there?

What if I can't find anything to write? Or what if my plan to write 25,000 words in 4 days fails miserably (which it very well might)? There is no stopping, no time to waste. Just write, write, write. So what to do if you hit a wall and no more words will come out? Well, if you don't want to stop writing, you can always use ninjas. When you cannot possibly come up with anything else to write, you're at an impossible dead end - cue the ninjas. They attack from nowhere and your characters have to deal with them before moving on. This will add to your word count, get you to the next place in your story, and hopefully cure your writer's block.

Now, ninjas don't always work. For one, you can't really have ninjas in all kinds of stories. Also, the idea is to edit them out of your NaNo novel later, but that's unnecessary work if you can fix your problem without them. If you can bear leaving your writing for a few minutes I recommend checking the NaNo forums for tips and ideas. However, this tip also comes with a warning: spending a few minutes on the NaNo forums can easily turn into hours. The time-space continuum doesn't work very well in the forums, and you'll experience a strange sensation of time moving very fast, while you're moving in slow motion. So take care!

Good things to keep you writing from the NaNo 2010 forums:
A word war is when you set a word count goal and race with someone else to reach it first - or you set a time and see who can write the most in that time. In my own experience, a competition can be a great motivator. To find someone to word war with, go to the Word Wars, Prompts & Sprints forum, where you can also find other, related, goodies.

If you want something to actually add to your plot, taking on a dare can be great fun! I am going to collect a large number of points from dares this year, my goal is 50 points, but I'm not sure I'll make it. I'll try though. There are always many, many dares available (and most of them are silly, I promise) in the Dares Thread and the Second Dares Thread.

If you're writing and you suddenly realise you need another character, or perhaps you need a name for one - or, maybe it's not a character you need but an object. Either way, you can adopt one in one of the many adoptables threads. You can find anything from characters and pieces of dialogue, to deaths and (one of my personal favourites) villain catchphrases. All of the adoptable threads can be found, conveniently, in the All the Adoptable threads thread.

If your problem lies not in writing but in the equipment / food /snack area, perhaps you need to work on your survival kit. You can read what other people use to survive NaNo in the The Infamous Survival Kit (1) and (2) threads.

When you have reached important milestones (e.g. 10,000 words, or, obviously, 50,000 words), make sure to tell people about it! In the Shoutouts forum there are many threads where you tell people about major (and minor) achievements. In participating in NaNo you will do something huge (hopefully), so take pride in it and tell others about it!

Finally, if all hope is lost and all above threads fail you, you can write about your pain and suffering in the NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul forum. Don't be afraid to complain, freak out, speak unintelligibly and generally not make sense. There will always be someone there who knows what you're going through and can help (or sympathise).

This is my last post before NaNo and if I haven't been able to help you so far, I cannot give any more assistance. I hope that I've done some good though, at least. This will only be my second NaNo, and I always mess up the second time I do things (and have done so all my life). Therefore, I'm worried I might not manage it this year. So please cross your fingers for me. I'll return when I've finished my NaNo novel, which I hope to have done within two weeks. If I'm not back by then, just assume I'm squirming in my own personal hell, probably stuck on word five and running out of chocolate. But I'm sure things will go much easier for all of you out there. So good luck, and have fun!

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