Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo: Change Perspectives

As the end of Week 2 of NaNoWriMo approaches, some writers may be slowing down and losing the motivation that they had started with at the beginning of the month. Stress, fatigue, and life have all started to interfere with the writing process and some of us have hit a wall. Whether it’s a lack of ideas or just a lack of words, this is the time of the month when some writers start to get behind and panic. If these feelings sound familiar, you may need a change in perspective.

Most writers write from one character’s perspective, most commonly from the point-of-view of the hero. This can be great in many ways and through this writing technique, we begin to get attached to the hero and sympathize with the challenges he may run into throughout the book. However, if you are only writing what the hero sees, you may be limiting yourself. In order to shake things up and add some spark back into your novel, write from a different character’s perspective. Not only will this change the way you see your story, but it may also give you new ideas and I guarantee it will increase your word count.

An interesting change in perspective could be from the hero to the villain. In our writing rush, we may focus so much on the hero and think of the villain almost as an afterthought. However, the villain, in some ways, is just as important as your hero. Try writing your next chapter from your villain’s perspective. Not only will you force yourself to get into the head of your villain, but you will see the world as your villain sees it. This will be drastically different than how your hero sees the world. Even if you end up deleting these extra chapters in later edits, this technique will help you learn more about your villain and in turn, when you write about your villain from your hero’s perspective, it’ll make your villain seem much more complex. Nobody wants to read about a villain who is just evil because he has to be. Diving into the mind of your villain to find his motivation will create more layers and make this character vastly more interesting.

Not only will a change in perspective alter the way you see your characters, it’ll also add events into your story. While your hero is marching off to fight the villain, the villain will obviously be doing something. What is the villain doing? Are other characters involved? How would this affect the hero? Writing about events that are outside the hero’s point-of-view will expand the world you’ve built in your book. In fact, you can add an entire subplot that you might not have previously considered by thinking in the head of a different character.

Obviously, you are not limited to just changing to the villain’s perspective because you should have a whole cast of characters to choose from. You can change perspectives to the hero’s best friend or mentor. Although the characters may experience similar events as your hero, everyone sees things differently and characters are no exception. Viewing similar events as a different character may give you a new look at what your hero is facing. This might even affect how you write from your hero’s perspective later on in the story. This fresh look at your novel will give you that motivation you need to break through your writer’s block and continue writing.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I hope your novel writing is going well and you’re on target to complete your goal! If you have any thoughts to share about a change in perspective, please share them in the comments!

Until next week,

Debbie

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Get the Most Out of Your NaNoWriMo Account

NaNoWriMo is officially under way and I hope that everyone still has their first week momentum going. Since it’s the first week, I think it’s important to remember that there is more to NaNoWriMo than what is in your Microsoft Word document. The wonderful people who brought you NaNoWriMo have supplied incredible tools on your NaNoWriMo account that can help in a number of ways. Whether it’s keeping up with your word count, encouragement, or community, NaNoWriMo has got you covered and I think it’s so important that you take advantage of the tools that they offer you.

Like many other writers, I’m obsessed with tracking my word count. Because of my word count obsession, I think my favorite feature of my NaNoWriMo account is the stats option. On this page, you can input and track all of your writing data. This picture below shows the stats from my personal NaNoWriMo account:

stats

This is more than your ordinary word counter. Not only does it chart your daily word count in a bar graph, it also predicts when you should finish and how many words per day you need to write in order to hit your goal. I think that this tool is incredible and I love watching the numbers change every time I update my word count.

Another feature that I love is the Pep Talks. A little encouragement goes a long way, so reading advice from powerhouse authors is a great motivator. A new Pep Talk is available every week and so far NaNoWriMo has provided advice from Kami Garcia, Chuck Wendig, and Veronica Roth. The pep talks are not too long and are the perfect length if you’re looking for something to read during a quick writing break. If you can’t wait a week for the next pep talk, NaNoWriMo has archived all of the Pep Talks since 2007 and they are all available for your reading pleasure.

Lastly, there are so many ways to get connected with others in the writing community. After you create your profile, you are able to communicate in the different forums and interact with other writers. NaNoWriMo also offers write-ins and depending on your location, you will be notified of a write-in in your area. This gives you an opportunity to connect with people in person and write in a place where inspiration is likely to strike. If meeting others for a write-in sounds too intimidating, NaNoWriMo also stages virtual write-ins, which is essentially the same thing except it’s on the computer instead of in person. If you find someone that you really connect with, you can add them as your writing buddy on your account.

In short, don’t just live in your Microsoft Word document until it’s time to confirm your official word count. Utilize the tools that NaNoWriMo has to offer because they will definitely help you. The website is pretty user friendly and it’s a great way to deepen your commitment to the challenge.

To all of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I hope you had a great first week and keep on writing!

Until next week,

Debbie

NaNoWriMo Prep: Give Yourself Positive Reinforcement

B.F Skinner is the famous psychologist that introduced the Law of Effect-Reinforcement that tells us that behaviors that are reinforced are repeated, while behaviors that are not reinforced tend to fade. This brought about a study in positive reinforcement, the belief that if you positively reinforce a behavior, it will be repeated. B.F. Skinner proved this to be true in rats and many years later, we know this to be true in humans as well.

NaNoWriMo is just days away and soon, thousands of writers will be attempting to repeat the same behavior: write for thirty consecutive days in order to reach a 50,000 word goal. This task will be a challenge and focus and motivation are key. An incredibly helpful way to increase your motivation and keep your writing drive alive is through positive reinforcement. It may sound simple, but setting smaller goals and rewarding yourself along the way will increase your chances of completing your overall goal of 50,000 words.

Before November 1, consider a positive reinforcement plan. For example, you could make a plan to reward yourself for every 10,000 words that you write. Not only does this break your large goal into smaller, more manageable goals, but it will also give you that motivation to keep writing. For every 10,000 words,  you could buy yourself a nice coffee or take yourself to lunch. When you finally hit that 50,000 word goal, you could treat yourself to something bigger like a movie or a nice dinner. Whatever your reward is, it’ll keep your morale higher than if you weren’t to reward yourself at all.

Rewards do not have to be material items either. Even if you are on a budget, you can still give yourself positive reinforcement. For example, for every 10,000 word mark that you reach, promise yourself a couple of episodes of your favorite television show that have been sitting on your DVR. When you hit your 50,000 word goal, you could give yourself one lazy day of not doing anything as a reward for working so hard during NaNoWriMo.These rewards cost no extra money, but they are still something to look forward to as you trudge towards the finish line.

Remember, if you don’t set up your positive reinforcement plan now, the only reward that you will have is 50,000 words at the end of November. Although it will be incredibly satisfying, it will be tough to get there without any other little boosts along the way. Science has proven that rewards and positive reinforcement improve productivity, so why not treat yourself? You will deserve it and it will definitely help.

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo and have positive reinforcement ideas, please share them in the comments! If you are interested in signing up for NaNoWriMo, click here.

Good luck to everyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo this year! I hope that my NaNoWriMo Prep series has been helpful and I will continue writing NaNoWriMo posts throughout the month of November!

Until next week,

Debbie

NaNoWriMo Prep: Let People Know Your Goal

The thought of letting other people know that you are going to participate in NaNoWriMo might feel strange. Up until now, you might have kept your plotting, researching, and outlining to yourself. You’ve been in your own little bubble when it comes to NaNoWriMo and letting others in might be daunting. However, it can be deeply beneficial to let the people that are closest to you know the challenge that you are about to tackle.

When you tell someone about a goal, you are adding a new layer of accountability. As of right now, you may be doing NaNoWriMo for yourself. If you are the only one who knows about it, you will be the only one affected if you aren’t able to complete your 50,000 words. However, if you’ve told a handful of people that you are participating in NaNoWriMo, you add that accountability factor. These people will know your goal and know when you are supposed to be finished by, making the November 30 deadline seem more concrete. If you begin to slack off, they will be there to help you refocus and get back on track. You will also feel more motivated to complete your 50,000 words on time because you won’t want to disappoint those who are cheering you on.

Although you will be adding accountability to your goal, you will also be building yourself a support system. Some of the people you tell might not be writers and they may think that NaNoWriMo is an unattainable goal. Some of the people may have an interest in writing and find it fascinating. Regardless of how they personally feel about writing, they care about you and will be cheering you on until you hit 50,000 words. For those of you who do have that friend or family member who is interested in writing, you have someone who you can bounce ideas off of if you get stuck in the middle of the month. They can just simply listen to you ramble until you reach an idea, or they can help you brainstorm new ideas. Either way, the people in your support system will help keep you sane through November.

Finally, telling the people around you will help explain your sudden hermit-like habits once November comes. If your family knows that you’re writing 1,667 words every day, they might try their best to demand less of your time during the holidays (yes, you will have to write on Thanksgiving). Although this won’t get you out of household chores, your family will be more understanding if they see you sneaking off to your room every now and again. By giving your friends a heads-up about NaNoWriMo, they won’t put as much pressure on you to go out and do things. They won’t bother you as much over that unanswered text message or missed phone call if they know that you’re constantly typing away at the keyboard. Letting them know about NaNoWriMo will prepare them for your anti-social behavior and you can assure them that everything will be back to normal on December 1.

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo and have started telling people close to you about it, please share in the comments! If you are interested in signing up for NaNoWriMo, click here.

Until next week,

Debbie

NaNoWriMo Prep: Research Now, Not in November

I think that the word “research” can have somewhat of a negative connotation when it comes to preparing for a novel. The average writer may envision themselves stuck inside of a library, buried by academic books about whatever they’re going to write about. Another fear could be spending hours online, reading articles from credible databases. Although you will need to educate yourself to an extent, there is more to researching than just brushing up on facts. In order to have a complex and layered story, a writer needs to take a lot of time to do immersive research for their novel. I believe that a writer should start doing their research immediately after they decide who and what they plan to write about.

Depending on what genre you are writing in, you will have certain expectations and genre norms that your readers will expect you to meet. For example, if you are writing a romance, there has to be some sort of conflict between the couple. Nobody wants to read a story about a couple who never bicker, never have problems, and go throughout their days peacefully. That is not how romance novels are written because that would be boring. You must know your genre before you begin to write and that’s where a different type of research comes in. You should read books that are in your chosen genre in order to learn what type of expectations a reader will have. If you want to write a murder mystery, you may want to watch crime movies or television shows in order to visualize how criminal investigations are depicted. Immersing yourself within your chosen genre will help you prepare and become more educated on what you plan to write. Reading or watching different genre pieces can be quite time consuming, so it is best to start now. You may gain inspiration through your research and you will decrease the amount of work you will have in November.

The amount of additional research you may need will be based upon what genre you end up choosing. If you decide to write a historical novel based in the World War II era, you will need to immerse yourself into the history of World War II. You can read firsthand accounts of World War II veterans, read history books, or visit museums with World War II exhibits to really learn about the culture and history in that time period. The writer who writes this novel will obviously need to do more research than a writer who writes a contemporary novel about a teenager in high school. Regardless of the complexity of the story, a writer should always do some research.

I think one of the worst things a writer can do is skip the research. A reader can really tell if a novel is well researched or if it isn’t. As a writer, you have created the world so you should know everything about it. If there is even a single setting or factual inaccuracy, you will lose credibility with your reader. If you have chosen to write about a town that you don’t live in, make sure you know that town like a native. A writer should never assume something to be true and write a possible inaccuracy. If your novel is based in reality, your story must be built on facts. The only way to obtain those facts is through research.

It will be incredibly difficult to get into the groove of writing if you are stressing out about the details during November. Since NaNoWriMo does demand so much time, you do not want to have to worry about spending more time researching your novel than actually writing it. Doing your research now will decrease your stress levels and will give you more time to write once NaNoWriMo begins.

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo or have some different suggestions on doing research, please share them in the comments! If you are interested in signing up for NaNoWriMo, click here.