Launching NaNo from the starting blocks

It’s Day 1 of National Novel Writing Month – or of your latest writing project. There you are, hoping to hit the 1,666.66 finished words a day you need to hit the NaNoWriMo target. Or a deadline. And…nothing…

"Hmmn...books. New fangled rubbish. They'll never replace scrolls, you know".
“Hmmn…books. New fangled rubbish. They’ll never replace scrolls, you know”.

I call it ‘starting block’.

First step – don’t panic. OK, now work the problem. Why are you stuck? Because you have no ideas, or because you are filled with ideas and can’t express them? Each problem has a different answer.

The classic standby for both, though, is the same – go for a walk, tidy up the kitchen, try some gardening. Anything. Not for long. Ten minutes. Without thinking about the problem in hand. Then get back to the computer. If it’s the ‘filled with idea’ problem and you’re stuck on the opening words, try starting in the middle of what you want to say. Backfill to the first sentence later.

If it’s the ‘no ideas at all’ problem, try this: get some note-paper and write down some random words. First thing that comes to mind. Go away for a minute or two. Come back. Do they mean anything?

Often, you may find the idea you want drifts in at that point – and it may not be anything to do with the words you’ve just written.

Try it. You might surprise yourself.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up: Sixty second writing tips, ‘Write It Now’, ‘NaNo writing prompt’ posts, and more. Watch this space.

3 thoughts on “Launching NaNo from the starting blocks

  1. Heart Attack! (It’s not Nov. 1 here for 11 more hours). All that really means is I can stave off panicking until the am 😛

    Yup, you convinced me! My lack of employment, and abundance of free time for the month of November have allowed the stars to align…in favour of NaNoWriMo.

    Thanks so much for your posts these past few weeks. They will come in hand I’m sure, but mostly I loved them for reminding me that it’s time. 🙂

    Back to denial for the next few hours.


  2. It’s not Nov. 1st here for another 10 hours (and since I have a day job, I won’t be doing the midnight start). However, I’ll be squirreling away your tips for this weekend. 🙂 Thanks for sharing these great ideas!


  3. I often have an idea breakthrough when walking or doing something else mindlessly physical. It’s kind of like creative W-D40 (or other type of lubricant that loosens the creative cogs). Great reminder. I think I’ll go for that walk now. 😉


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