Sixty second writing tips: pushing the NaNo edges

One of the main tenets of National November Writing Month – NaNoWriMo – is that it’s words-to-target. It’s there to push writers into producing.

1197094932257185876johnny_automatic_books_svg_medEven the organisers admit, what follows won’t necessarily be any good.

I disagree. I think the onus is on writers to be as good as they can be – all the time. Even when pushing to meet a target.

That’s how journalists have to work, or authors to contract deadline and it’s a learned skill.

This week, I’ve outlined how to set up a novel – that elusive 50,000 words, on a single piece of paper, by nailing down your logline, prioritising the character arc and then fitting the plot around it.

Next – time to start fleshing that out. The essence of writing quickly – of getting those 50,000 words out and making the good words – is keeping the re-casting and re-writing down to a minimum.

My motto? Fifteen minutes planning can save hours of re-writing. There’s a lot of talk about ‘free form’ or ‘seat of the pants’ writing versus ‘planned’ writing, as if they’re alternative options. After thirty years in the business I can state absolutely that they’re not alternatives – you need both. I’ll be outlining more about that soon.

Meanwhile – try this. Sit down at the beginning of your writing session and jot down some notes, with pen and paper, not a computer, outlining what your next 2000 words are going to tell the reader, and how they fit in with the overall plan of your novel.

Pen and paper? Sure. It breaks the framework of the computer – gives you a different tool. You’d be surprised what ideas float in when you do that.

Then get cracking and write! More soon.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up: More NaNo tips, ‘Write it now’ – an ongoing series on the how and why of writing; and more. Watch this space.

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