NaNoWriMo Word Sprints -It Might Work For YOU!

Yesterday I set a goal to get more writing done on my NaNoWriMo project. I’m still not at my ideal word count, but I did have some great writing moments.

On the NaNoWriMo site, I saw that on Twitter, there was the official NaNoWriMo handle,  a coach for the week, and NaNoWordSprints. I was curious about the word sprints. I decided to try it out. I figured if it wasn’t working for me I could always stop and go write on my own. In other words I had low expectations.

Well let me tell you, writing with word sprints was a good choice. It reminded me of some of the exercises I had done in writing  class at Story Studio. For some reason, these little exercises do something to my writing. It is like taking a class at the gym. You end up feeling sore the next day because you were using other muscles that you don’t typically work. I love that feeling – both in exercise and writing. In my writing, it opens me up to other ways of approaching the story..

Different people host for various times over at NaNoWordSprints. I encourage you to check it out if you have time. It sounds as though you can drop in anytime (free) and just write. Sometimes there are prompts and other times not. It is timed writing and they urge you to set a word count goal.

The prompt that made me take off like a horse spooked wagon was a song prompt: “I Will Wait for You”, by Mumford and Sons. At first I thought, This will never work. My story is set in the past. I had to think about it for a few minutes. At first I  worried about how this was affecting my word count. Then I had an a-ha moment and almost ripped holes in my paper I was writing so fast. The more I wrote, the more the idea shaped itself in my head. I think I might have the idea for my opening and first chapter.

If you are looking for a writing challenge, try some word sprints. I hope they will be as beneficial for you as they were for me.

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Tools to Help During NaNoWriMo

I didn’t get a chance to blog about my writing and word count the last few days. I thought yesterday (Monday) would be a great day to catch up on my lagging word count. I did other things instead. Many of them were writing related and character related, so that is good for the overall story, but bad for increasing the word count. I also came across a helpful tool, from a blog called davidseah.com. In his October 17th post, he has created a NaNo calendar that will keep me aware of my numbers. I liked it right away because it works with my old school writing style of writing in a notebook. I had to PRINT a copy on a piece of paper. Now it lives in a pocket in my notebook. If you are an old school writer, this might be helpful to you in your NaNo writing, or if you want to keep track of your daily word count (which some writers do.) According to the blog post, there will be more of these monthly calendars available for regular writing in the future. I know I will stay tuned.

Well, as you can see from my graphics, as of the end of day four, I am very behind in my word count. (Actually it is 2045, but this was the closest graphic I could find.)I am off to fill the lined pages of my notebook. I will blog more this week about what I discovered about characters. Don’t forget to check back.

3 Tips and a Word Count

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One of the reasons I was on the fence about signing up for NaNoWriMo was the sheer number of days that would make it difficult for me to get any writing done. Starting NaNoWriMo with three days of no writing did not seem like a good idea because that would mean at the start of day four, I would be almost 5,000 words behind. Instead of  worrying, I decided to think about just writing. Here are three tips I tried yesterday that I found useful. I’m hoping you might too whether you are on your own NaNo journey, just starting out writing or trying to make time in your busy life to write:

  1. JUST START    I know, people say this all the time, but for many people starting a big project seems nearly impossible. It feels like you are an ant who has to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It seems like it won’t happen because there are already so many things going on. I started by looking at our routine for the weekend. One thing that we try to keep consistent in our house is the time after lunch, which we have called “quiet, resting, reading time” for many years. I picked this time to write instead of read.
  2. SET A START AND END TIME              I knew I had a time limit, so my goal was to write for at least 30 minutes. I knew I would not reach a word count of 1667 in that short time. I knew that in 30 minutes I could get some ideas out and that was all  that mattered for the day. It’s amazing that once I started, I was on fire. My pen barely stopped moving. In addition to writing my story, I was able to make notes about things I needed to look up later.  When the little people interrupted me three times in five minutes, I knew my time was up, which I was fine with because that was right around the 30 minute mark.
  3.    START ANYWHERE       I almost blew off my writing, even though I had decided to start and I knew when it would occur because I didn’t know how I wanted the story to start. I agonized over this during my morning exercise and while I was preparing lunch. I realized NaNo doesn’t have to be a linear start to finish. No one is looking at how you write. I also recalled that in general I do not write in that fashion. I tend to jump all over and fill in gaps as I go and write about the story as details come to me. So, I jumped write in.

Other tips:

START FRESH

Taking a shower is optional, but start with a fresh notebook. I know many people use a computer to write, but there is a lot to be said about going old school and writing on paper. You can take your writing with you. You can look back on your scribbled out words later to see if you can pull more ideas from them when you are editing. And, you can leave space at the end of your writing for notes and a word count. A fun, new pen helps as well. At least you’ll know you have many hours of writing ahead with it.

PLAN FOR THE NEXT WRITING SESSION

It was fun to get inside the minds of my characters. They didn’t leave my brain after I stopped writing. This was a good thing because now I have some ideas on where I want to start writing today.

FINAL WORD COUNT: 657 

Here’s to my day 2 of writing. If you are participating in NaNo, or just like to write, what works for you?