Prep for Novel Writing Week 2006
My first advice for those about to tackle Wordtrip’s Writing Week (or NaNoWriMo) is to go back and read the entries from last year at www.novelwritingweek.com because, at the risk of tooting my own horn, there’s some good advice in there. But I’ll try and come up with some more for you before you start writing at midnight tonight.
If you’ve not already done some planning, start there. Take the next couple of hours and put your preliminary thoughts down on paper. Don’t write your story at all, just some of the scene ideas and basic plot elements you’ve devised, maybe a couple of quick character sketches. If you’re still looking for an idea go over to www.wordtrip.com or search on google.com or a9.com for story generators. Take some characters, put them in a situation, pick a setting and start from there.
Don’t over plan, don’t over research, and once you’ve got enough to get started, and keep you going once you do start, put your butt in your chair and start writing (or if you’re waiting for Writing Week to start, take the time to get a good nap and maybe go for a mind clearing walk).
Stop the Block:
In the latest issue of Scientific American Mind there’s a whole article on the brainstorm and tapping your creative powers. The key thing I pulled from it was that the key to solving a problem isn’t knowing more than the next guy, but having the basic knowledge (what your story is for example) and then turning off your brain and thinking about other things to let the “guys in the basement” (as Steven King oft referrs to them) do their job. So as this week (or next month) progresses and you’re finding yourself stuck on a story problem take the time to take a break. Even if it takes away some writing time, take a 10-20 minute break (grab a cup of coffee, a hershey kiss, or take a nap) and then come back to your problem.
I’ve used a software from www.pzizz.com that plays soothing sounds (though sometimes spooky) and talks you through a short nap and wakes you up when it’s over. You might want to try something along those lines to distract your mind so it can do what it needs to. Another option is meditation. There are a plethora of Yoga sites out there that will give you quick stretches to work through that can give your mind something physical to focus on while those basement workers can find a path to your pen. Even without a guide you can set your kitchen timer for 10-15 minutes and take the time to sit comfortably in a chair, close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing. Or go for a nice walk around the neighborhood (assuming you’re in a safe neighborhood and won’t get shot). The key is just to focus your mind on another subject for a little while. This will let the subconscious mind sort all the information it’s been clogged with into a manageable pattern.
That’s all for me today. I’ll try and post a couple of encouraging bits later this week. Happy Writing and Happy Wordtripping!