At first glance telling you to “just write” is an obvious statement. “Isn’t that the point of NaNoWriMo?” you say.
For some, writing is the singular most difficult to thing to do. Putting words down on paper feels to them like an impossible task. For others, of course, it’s as easy as spreading warm butter over bread.
Writing is also a past, present, and future experience wrapped into one process. Beginning writing for NaNoWriMo can be the largest hump while for others it could be to keep writing.
If you’re sitting in front of a blank word processor page for longer than five minutes and you haven’t written anything yet, just write.
If you’ve written over a thousand words but you got stuck at a certain point in the story and you’re criticizing your own work, just write.
Don’t worry about making the perfect first sentence. Don’t worry about details. Don’t worry about anything other than to write.
A helpful tip I read from Stephen King (Maybe you heard of him?) in his book On Writing was something he heard from his teacher. Write with the door closed and edit with the door open.
In other words, this is your first draft, so just write. Close the door literally and figuratively and write whatever comes out of that beautiful, colorful, and creative skull. There is no time for self-reflection. No time to critique your thoughts or your imagination.
Now is the time to play, be free, and just write.
So get to it, pendragon!
It’s almost a no-brainer to cut out all distractions when you write during NaNoWriMo. Yet, it’s sad how many writers make this simple mistake. They plop down in front of their television with food on the coffee table surrounded by family, friends, or a lonely pet, expecting to get something done.
The television will call your name. The video games will plea for quality time. And all your loved ones won’t care that you’re trying to get work done, they’ll bother you anyway.
To some degree, it’s a good skill to be able to write wherever, whenever. The writers who have perfected this skill have practiced a lot and are good at tuning people out and sticking to their word count goals. And let’s face it, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of running off to our hidey-hole, removed from the world.
However, for novices, I’d highly recommend finding a place removed from temptations. Once writer’s block kicks in, you’re tired and drained, but you know you should write another 1,000 words, the television will become as attractive as an oasis in a desert on a scorching hot day. Don’t let it.
Find your sanctuary. Maybe it’s at the library (My personal favorite). Maybe it’s at the coffee shop (Unless you’re a pro, this could become a distraction). Maybe you’ve got a nice dark and dank den in your basement to write a horror novel. Whatever it is, go there and write. You’ll be glad you did.
Previously, I wrote about how I defied rules and structure in my writing in Fooled by Mr. Keating. Some might call this style “post-modern” writing and I certainly had my head entrenched in that school of thought. It was not to my benefit. I think it makes sense to dig a little deeper. Let’s talk about plot structure in fiction writing.
Before we get into it, I want to make clear no potential genre novelist wants to be a post-modern writer.
The Dead Poets Society is one of my favorite movies of all time. Even as a young kid I remember enjoying it. Robin Williams performance as Mr. Keating electrifies the drama, bringing passion and heart to a story which could have fallen flat. In the movie, Mr. Keating has several iconic scenes which argue against stale, passionless writing, but rather encourages all artists to not be bound by rules or structure. In essence, Keating’s message to his students and to the audience is: Be free.
I woke up around 4:00 AM this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. This is rare. The below zero temperatures and the short days must be messing with my head. It seems like this is becoming a common thread each year. Hopefully, I don’t get that nasty virus like I did last year. No one wants to endure that.
Since I couldn’t sleep, I read the rest of Song of Susannah by Stephen King. Now I’m left with that enduring question bringing too much opportunity into the mix: What should I read next? I’ll come up with something. Probably something short. And scary.