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The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

Mastering NaNo: Week Two November 10, 2012

Filed under: Writing — katblogger @ 7:58 PM
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Week Two is widely regarded as the hardest week of NaNoWriMo. That thrill of doing something new is wearing off. You’ve played around in your sandbox and are now expected to build something. Real life is knocking on the door and reminding you that Hey, you have responsibilities! Your characters are boring, your writing poor, and everything sucks.

That’s where motivation comes in.

The point is not to write quality literature. Everyone writes terrible first drafts. We’re just writing them at higher speeds. To keep yourself going, or knock you out of a rut, here are some tried and true methods I use to spur myself on:

1. Write or Die

This site will save your life. It saved mine. has downloadable apps for a price, but if you click the web app tab you can use it for free. Input the amount of time you want to work, the word count, level of difficulty, etc, and go! You have to keep typing at all times, or something terrible will happen. In fifteen minute stretches, I can pound out from 800 – 1000 words. There’s absolutely no editing allowed – it’ll get angry at you – so it’s a great way to get your day’s word count.

2. Word wars

Have a friend doing NaNo? Set a time period when both of you will type fast and furious. Whoever gets the most words wins. (Maybe you can make the prize be some carpal tunnel gloves. You’ll need them.)

3. Bribery

That’s right – good, old fashioned bribery. I found a ridiculously huge box of Andes Mints at my campus store, and I now get one every thousand words. It’s like being paid to write with delicious sugary treats. I also have a fabled bowl of Noodles and Company Japanese udon noodles waiting for me at the 50k finish line.

4. Random inspiration

Sometimes you really don’t know what to do next. Maybe you haven’t planned it out, maybe things went haywire, I don’t know. But you’re staring at a blank screen and you have no clue what to write.

This is where friends come in.

Go to Facebook or tumblr or a writing forum or wherever your craziest, most creative friends hang out. Tell them you’re doing NaNo and you  need something to write – the weirder the better. Then wait for the suggestions to pour in. The best I got was ‘your character accidentally falls into a time machine  (s)he was expecting to be a public restroom from which this character emerges and it’s (random time period). Then this person meets the person who invented the Twizzler that Y&S candy factory stole from them. What will your character do? Go back home and do nothing or stand up to the man to do what’s right?!’

I have not managed to include that yet.

Still, rack up those words and have fun! That’s really what NaNo is all about. Getting serious will ruin the experience.


4 Responses to “Mastering NaNo: Week Two”

  1. The beginning of your post reminded me of Anne Lamott’s book “Bird by Bird” where she talks about Shitty First Drafts. It’s amazing how often the feeling of needing something to be perfect the first time around can make us feel that we are up against a wall.
    Great tips, I’m not doing NaNo, but perhaps I’ll use some of the same energy for the smaller spurts on which I work on short stories and other pieces.
    Enjoy your mints!! 🙂

  2. MK Says:

    Noodles of Victory!!

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