Halfway to the finish line of NaNoWriMo. To date, I have written over 35,000 words. I’ve been pretty good at keeping up with my 2,000-word/hour pace. I needed to get down that many words per writing session because my weekends are unpredictable. I never really know if I’ll have uninterrupted time to write, so I had to assume I wouldn’t have it. Then, of course, there is Thanksgiving. I travel to spend two and a half days with my beloved 😉 family. So that’s more time I figured I wouldn’t have for my NaNo novel.
Getting 50,000 words down in thirty days is our primary goal, but it’s a useless goal if what we end up with is a tangled mess.
I want to share two of my tricks to “winning” NaNoWriMo. NaNo Notes and Master Scene Lists.
MASTER SCENE LISTS
The biggest reason my early NaNo novels were so chaotic and confusing was because I put everything in my draft that my imagination served up. Since I implemented pre-NaNo strategies, I learned that writing a story from a plan works far better than writing directly from a jumbled mix of possible scenes.
But that jumbled mix of possible scenes still has to be dealt with, right? I mean, it’s not like our brains come up with, right out of the gate, a straightforward, logical three-act structure with each scene laid out in sequential and engaging form. With every character an intriguing and enticing figure.
No. When we first get going with our story idea, it’s a jumbled mix. Better to pour that chaos into a separate document that can act like a funnel to your NaNo draft (or any rough draft for that matter).
I create a Master Scene List and pull scenes from there and plug them in to my draft as I need them. My preference is to work with index cards and sticky notes because they are easy to move around and try out different scenarios. But I’ve created Master Scene Lists using Scrivener, Google, and Word. I do this to prevent my draft from getting cluttered from too many scenes that “may or may not” work.
I often have more than one Master List running. I’ll do one up for scenes, characters, settings, props, etc. As I’m writing my NaNo draft, more ideas for characters or props (for example) will come to me. Rather than just throw them straight into my NaNo draft, I add them to my Master List. This helps me stay organized. Any time I use an idea, I check it off the Master List.
TIP: Always be sure to add up the words that you write in your Master Lists because they will count toward your total word count for NaNo. Just because they might be words that are in a separate document doesn’t matter. You wrote them for your NaNo novel, so they count!
After most of my NaNo sessions, I spend a few minutes to write down notes about my story. The things that feel good, the questions I have, the new ideas I want to try, characters who are agreeable (or not). Basically, I write down anything that feels important but can wait to be dealt with until after November 30.
This journaling I do is also really helpful for my mindset. If I am feeling like I’m behind or I’m not capturing the feel of the story, then I journal through those doubts. That extra time spent on my own inner story 😉 is a big help in keeping me motivated and positive.
If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, let me know how it’s going! If you’re not doing the challenge, tell me what you’re writing instead. Do you have any tricks to help you stay organized or motivated with your writing?
Have a writerly day!