Of the many exercises I’ve done, none were more beneficial than NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month) is a wonderful exercise created by Chris Baty. The goal of which is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. You write 1,667 words a day for a 30-day period. The official month is November, however, you can do it whenever in the years is good for you. One year, I started in the middle of July.
But here’s the best part. To get your word count, you can do whatever you have to. Excessively long names for everything. Breaking up contractions. Whatever you have to do. The point of the exercise is to teach you to write whatever comes to mind then edit and perfect it later.
Many writers get caught in the trap of trying to write and edit the story in our heads before ever putting pen to paper. Wrong. Using this method, a really good story never gets written. What could be a brilliant creative career is stillborn.
Write then edit.
Nothing teaches you this better than NaNoWriMo.
Take everything you know about story development, grammar, plotline, character development, throw them out the window. None of that is important here. All that matters is getting your daily word count. If you write a passage you later don’t care for, don’t delete it. If you’re using a word processor, highlight the section, change the font color to white, you never have to look at it after that. On paper, I outline the section in blue ink so that I know which parts I’m not going to use should I decide to continue with the story at a later date.
So far, I’ve attempted the project four times and completed it twice. The most important advice I can give is to find a rhythm and stick with it. On a good day, when I’m in a groove, I can get my count plus done in about three hours. But I’m not a very good typist. You may be able to do it faster. But I say that to say it’s important to know how much time you need when you’re in a good swing or a low swing then set that time aside. I’m not married, not do I have kids, but there are a lot of people with families and regular jobs who do this. Go to www.nanowrimo.org for more information and other tips.
If you’re having trouble getting through your skeleton, try a NaNo. It will change your writing life. One word at a time means so much more to me after having done this project.