Nano Tips

Before November
Originally uploaded by earthdog.
Doing Nano

For the fifth year in a row I have done National Novel Writing Month. That is the challenge where people write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. For all five years I have completed the challenge. That means that in all five years I have written 50,000 words. If I had to testify in court, I would not say that every year my 50,000 words would add up to a novel. Only one year has the story come to a nice neat conclusion in close to 50,000. Most years the novel is no where near being complete. It is usually a mess of text that would take major work before it could be as a novel.

Every year I track to see how long it takes me to write. I track to see how many hours the novel takes me and how many words per hour I write. This year it took me 57.75 hours to write a total of 50200 words. That means I averaged over 850 words an hour. Some of those hours were total clunkers that I wrote a total of 77 hours. I also know that I rounded down some of the time. For Argument sake, lets say it took me 60 hours to write 50000 words or 830 words an hour.

When I go to a write in I try to write 1000 words an hour. I can do this with minimal distraction. Back in college I was told that 1000 words an hour is what the average person can compose and write. That is a good 50 minute hour of writing. I have noticed that I can usually keep this pace up for about 4 hours at most. More things creep in that really pull me away from writing. Simple things like eating and using the bathroom can really put me away from working on my novel.

I think that if it takes someone more than 80 hours to write the novel they will never do it. That means you need to write for 3.2 hours a day. I will admit that I have never written from 30 days in month. I have never written for more than 25 days in a month. Between work and having to interact with other human beings, writing 25 days in a month is really hard. At writing 15 days, that is writing 3.2 hours a day. That is where it starts to get hard. If you set the goal of 2000 words a day, that give you five days free during the month.

I have always found write-ins key to getting nano done. It is hard to explain why this is. Most people see writing as a solitary experience that you have to do for yourself. Somehow write-ins change that expense. I find that there is something special about writing around other people. It inspires me to get past blocks. If I need help with something other people are right around me. It gets me past all the the distractions of life.

In some ways write-ins help me compete with people. I am not really interested things like word wars and the kind of on line things people have come up with. Being around people who are either in front or behind me helps me. I want to catch the people in front of me and I look down my nose at people who are behind me.

One of the keys it to use your time well. It can take me 10-20 minutes to get to a write in. I have been asked in the past if it would be better for me to stay home and have that extra 20-40 minutes of round trip minutes to write. For me I have to say no. There are ways t use that time well. If I am leaving from work to go to a write in, that time is useful for me to switch from a work context to a writing context. If I bring all the ideas from work to writing I will be distracted.

If I do not have to come down from work, I can use this time to think about my novel. The key to writing quickly is to have already thought about where you want to go. Have some ideas in your mind. be ready to hit the keys once you are in front of your computer. I do not totally know what is going to happen until I sit down to write, but it is good to think about what might happen.

*Be careful of days where you get nothing done. If you are writing very slowly, it might server you better to close up for the day and put things aside.

*Keep your per hour average writing high. It does not work to write a lot of hours and get little done. If you are not getting things done, stop, and plan for the next time you can write.

*Set up what you are going to write before getting to write ins. If I have a little time watching TV before or after a write in, I plan for the next write in. I jut down some notes setting up what I will write next.

*Have more than one plot line going at the same time. This structure makes it easier to get the writing done. I find when I hit a block with one plot line, I can switch to the other plotline. I will admit that sometimes I have to write something to make the story work, but I am not interested in writing it. This is when having another storyline comes in helpful.

*Don't be afraid where the story might take you. I know that everyone might think they know where they want the story to go, but it is good to go with it sometimes.


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