Video Diary: NaNoWriMo

So National Novel Writing Month is nearly here.  What’s it like to work through the goal of writing 50,000 words of your novel in November? Kristina Horner shows us her 8th year’s experience of the programme – in only 7 minutes.

This video is a kaleidoscope of emotions in the life of a young person. I doubt if George Eliot had a similar writing process.  I am sure Virginia Woolf would have been horrified at the idea of 123,000 people viewing you in the process of writing.  But after all, this is a reflection on how the world of communication – written and verbal – is so entirely different now to classical ways of writing.

I’m left with the impression that there is actually a potential novel in writing the story of a young woman writing a novel within a month…

Across the pond, in Scotland, Rachael Stephen gives lots of practical tips and observations on tackling NaNoWriMo as one stage on the way to genuinely creating a publishable novel.  She is looking at the process as a way to make a workmanlike first draft – and that is more important than achieving the 50,000 word goal but not having built a sound foundation for an eventual book.  She is taking the long view.  Rachael talks a lot of sense and part of that is using a few examples of strong language.

“It’s always better for what you’re writing to be ugly rather than pointless – first drafts are where you nail down all the substance – you want to have roughly the right characters doing the right things.  And it’s all right if what you’ve written is boring and ugly and you hate your writing voice – that’s what editing and revision are FOR.”

Here are the keywords in her 5 tips:

  1. outline first
  2.  do wordsprint*, don’t cheat (don’t put in any thing irrelevant to the story just to get your wordcount higher, you’ll only have to cut it all out at the editing point)
  3. organise your story notes (no point having a huge pile of unorganised notes in a folder)
  4. don’t let your outline be your prison (give space for creatively departing from the planned outline if ideas flow that way)
  5. terrible prose, good story (don’t worry about perfecting sentences, make sure what is written IS the story, editing will sort out the rest)

A couple of new words (to me) I came across in looking at NaNoWriMo is:

wordsprint = a challenge on Twitter setting a time period when everyone taking part will write as many words as possible in the set time, on a given prompt.  It forces you to be productive and to write on something new for a set time.  If you want to try this, look out for the relevant hashtags (check out @NaNoWordsprints)

pantser = someone who flies by the seat of their pants when writing; no detailed plan of where they’re going, they just sit down and begin writing/typing.


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