The end of October always brings for me a dilemma, and no I’m not talking about how to look both scary and sexy in a Halloween costume. November is National Novel Writing Month, or as it is more affectionately known, NaNoWriMo. If you’re not sure what the frick I’m talking about, you can find out what NaNoWriMo is here. Last November, after many years of observing, was my first try at NaNoWriMo, which I ‘won’, or for all you civilians I completed it (you can read about it here). I enjoyed it so much and would happily have done it again this year, but, unfortunately, I’m really not well enough. Last year was a real struggle for me and since I was no where near as ill as I am now, I’ve decided not to just bow out this year.
I am, however, still going to set myself some kind of writing related challenge this November though. I figured that some of you reading this might also not be able to write 2,000 words a day (for a variety of reasons) so I thought I would share some of the alternatives that I’ve come up with.
1. Write one hundred words a day
Create one flash fiction a week or a short story by the end of the month, remember to leave a few days for revision.
2. Keep a daily journal
You can set the amount of pages, or words, depending on whether you’re planning on writing by hand or word processing. Published author Ben Hatch said the journal he kept when he was 21 turned into the bones of his first novel. You could even begin a character Journal, put yourself in your character’s shoes and write from their point of view, just let the words flow. It’s a great way to build a strong character for your novel.
3. Read books
This could be research for something you want to write, something to get you inspired, or even read some books about writing to improve your work.
4. Fill a book with ideas and observations
I recently read about a retreat that Julie Cohen (bestselling authors of ‘Dear Thing’) took with other writers. Having just sent off a manuscript, she decided to use her time away to re-engage with the world. She used a notebook and camera to record every bit of inspiration she found. Take walks, eavesdrop on conversations, read, bake, just do whatever it takes to re-engage the creative part of your mind.
5. Do one writing exercise a day
Writing exercises are a great way to develop your writing skills and they have the added bonus of being short and quick. My favourite book of exercises is ‘5 Minute Writer’ by Margaret Geraghty, although I often got lost in my ideas and wrote for longer than 5 minutes.
6. Start ‘morning’ pages
Many professional writers begin their day by taking a short amount of time to write a stream of consciousness. They have the complete freedom to write what is in their mind, not worrying about technique, proper use of grammar or style, since the intention of these pages is not for publication but simply to warm up your mind, just like an athlete takes the time to warm up before a workout. Usually the vast majority of these pages are simply the emptying of our minds, but every now and then looking back through these pages you’ll hit upon a gem. Regardless of whether you ever re-read these pages, taking time to “warm up” before you begin writing “properly” will save on editing and re-writing later.
Just in case you’re wondering, I’ll probably be going with option four because I’m low on both energy and ideas at the moment. I’d love to hear what you decide to do with your November writers.
Love Katie x