Posted by: Eve-Marie | July 10, 2012

What NaNoWriMo Taught Me – Part 2

4. Quantity, Not Quality
That’s how you get to 50k words in a month: you write down the words.  All of them.  It’s the simplest advice, right?  It’s so obvious that most people don’t even say it out loud, but here we go: to write 50k words in a month… you need to write.  5ok words.  In the space of a month.

Apologies if that sounds patronising – and believe me, I’m flinching a bit typing this – but I actually had a light-bulb moment during June when I went: “Oh!  To reach 50,000 words, I actually need to write that much!  Duh!” 😀

I know that when I thought I couldn’t finish – couldn’t possibly do it! – I realised that NaNo isn’t so much ‘writing a novel’, it’s actually ‘writing down words’.  Write the words first, create the novel later.  See Point #3 of the previous post.

5. Quality, Not Quantity
This is the part where I once again contradict matters :p  On the other hand, strike a balance with what you put down on the page.  Writing reams of text that have nothing to do with your novel is not a good idea.  So, take on board everything in Point #4 above and add the qualifier: “but write the words that have to do with your story.”

Oh, it’s all such obvious advice.  I know, I know.  And I feel bad.

Chris Batty’s book, No Plot? No Problem!, talks about how it’s okay to enter reams of The Canterbury Tales, etc. if that’s what you need to get your word count.  I have to disagree.  Imagine printing your novel off in the knowledge that most of it isn’t your own work?  Disheartening.

6.  Take Some Time To Reorder
I don’t know of anyone who can start on Day 1, Page 1 and write through to Day 30, Page 100-odd.

For a few days during Nano in about the third week, I recommend spending some time reordering your work.  Not editing or any sort of revision, but by Week 3 I had lots of superfluous scenes and notes at the end of the Word doc.

By taking some time to slot these scenes and reorder the novel slightly, it gave me the push to finish the project, safe in the knowledge I was at least on the right track when it came to the plot’s timeline.  I was able to find  places where I could add more words (“Oh wait, they went from the slums to a bio-dome *how*, exactly?”), and often entire scenes (“I’d better talk about *why* the main character is, you know, such a bitch!”)

Part 9 million to follow…

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