It’s NaNoWriMo season, so I’m reposting my top 5 tips that will help you bust through any block or hiccup so you reach your 50K. These tips have worked for me, and I hope they will work for you.
1. Make with a plan (yes, even the Pantsers). Really, the more you know about your plot and characters going in, the more it helps. Understanding what motivates your hero and why is the golden thread of your story which will make everything else so much easier to write because each action and decision is about getting them what they need most. Even if you’ve started without knowing this, challenge yourself to puzzle it out as soon as possible so that will help you steer the story.
2. If you get stuck on what comes next, skip ahead. Think about the story ahead and the next scene you see clearly in your mind. Maybe it’s two scenes down the road, or two chapters. Either way, put a placeholder into your book like, “Cindy is released from prison on a technicality” and then jump forward to the next scene you know will happen, like Cindy stalking the only witness to the crime. Words flow again, and in the background, you brain can work on the problem. When the answer hits (and it will), you can go back and “fill in” the missing scene.
3. Hate how a scene turned out? Change the setting and rewrite it. Many don’t realize it, but setting choice is a pretty big deal. How well the scene works is influenced by how well you utilize your setting, so choosing the right one is important. You can really mess with a character’s emotions, alter the mood, create conflict, and home in on fears, hopes or dreams as you need to, all using the setting. Here’s 4 ways to nail down the best setting choice for each scene. (Psst, if you rewrite the scene, keep the old one as it’s part of your 50K word count!)
4. Always end the session knowing the next line. We can lose momentum between writing sprints–one minute the words are flying, the next, nope. If you are writing a scene and need to quit for the day, try not finishing it…wait and pick it up again in your next session. Or, start the next scene just enough that you see the direction and then stop. This will help you get into the flow faster and keep the paralyzing fear of WHAT COMES NEXT at bay.
5. Triage, Triage, Triage. Getting stuck or stumped may happen. Let’s be real–it probably will happen. But that’s totally okay because all you need to do is visit the NaNoWriMo Triage Center. You can find help for Character Issues, Plot Problems, Conflict Juicing, Story Middle Problems, plus a bunch of brainstorming links.
Now might also be a good time to check out One Stop for Writers. Activate the FREE TRIAL and gain instant access to the largest Show-Don’t-Tell THESAURUS database anywhere. You’ll never run out of ideas on what to write about.
Becca and I are cheering you all on! 🙂 Go, NaNo Warriors!
What are your favorite NaNo tips? Share them in the comments!
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.