Everyone has to find their own method for writing novels. Shhh. I’m serious! Pipe down!
There is a metric TON of ‘writing advice’ out there but there isn’t a skeleton key or a magical panacea that is going to help YOU get YOUR novel written.
‘Cause that’s on you. You’re the one who has to BICHOK it (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard)
And it’s HARD. Give yourself a pat on the back for even trying!
I figured I’d outline my methodology and the tools I use, so that if any of them can be of help to you, you can steal’em.
First things first. I rarely wait until exactly midnight on nano eve. I know, I know. But I try to make sure I sleep during dark hours during nano. I have insomnia, so on the nights when I’m likely to sleep, I try to make that happen. You need to be aware as you’re going through nano, especially if this is your first one, that if you want to ‘win’ you’ll have to write, a LOT. That means it’s really easy to neglect your health. Drink water! Take your vitamins! Try to be aware of that thing called sleep as well as that thing called writing.
One of the things me starting a day or so ahead of time gives me is a bit of a cushion. Usually by the time nano rolls around ‘officially’ I have a word count cushion of between 6 and 20K. This year, I started with 17k, most of that was actually cut from the end of the first book in this series and will be part of the second act of this second book, because it fit better in the timeline.
It equals out, because my goal for nano is never the 50k. It’s always the first draft of a full novel, and my novels range between 80 and 145k. This year, I’m shooting for 100k.
Nano is me lighting a fire under my butt to help myself remember how much I really do love fast drafting (and I adore it. It’s wonderful.)
Now, to the tools and techniques.
I outline ahead of time. It was a hard-won skill for me because, at heart, I’m a pantser. I learned in nano 2015 (when I drafted what became Ilavani) that in order to write that fast, you NEED to let go of ye’old editor brain and just WRITE.
Having a skeleton outline helps me do that. (It also saves my butt on revising and editing, too, which helps, a lot.) I focus on making it pretty AFTERWARDS.
I use Scapple to outline. It’s free-form, so you can use the Three Act Structure or the 8 point story arc or whatever version of outlining works for you. You can do a free trial of it, it’s made by the same peeps who make scrivener.
You Don’t Have To Outline.
But it works for me.
Secondly, I use word count goals, I write in Scrivener (you can get a free trial of that too). Under the PROJECT tab, click PROJECT TARGET. It’ll let you customize it to how long your books should be and how many words you should shoot for per day. (NaNo suggests you shoot for 1667 words per day.)
I use AeonTimeline for keeping track of what is supposed to be happening when, and making sure that X event happens before Y and Z comes after both. Downloading the software automatically gives you a free trial. It has a bit of a steep learning curve, but there’re videos on youtube to help you out.
I utterly love the word counting function on Nano. I found Pacemaker to be quite helpful when NaNo isn’t available for tracking purposes.
Don’t forget that I have a resources page here on my site, some of the weird stuff I link there may be of help.
Now, go out and write some words!