IF THE WORDS WON’T COME, DRAG THEM OUT KICKING AND SCREAMING

Today’s post is dedicated to the NaNoWriMo writers around the world.

I am pleased to report that I am on target to reach my 50,000 words by the end of the month. I kind of knew it was achievable already seeing as I’d written 56,000 words for my month long May Gibbs Fellowship.

I hope you are all on target, and if you’re not, it really doesn’t matter. To me, NaNoWriMo is all about the journey, and if you achieve your word goal then that’s just an added bonus.

For me, NaNoWriMo is valuable on so many levels. For a start, it has brought some discipline back to my writing. How easy is it to “not write today” because you’re too busy? How easy is to be distracted by kids, work, school, elephants playing on the front lawn, a fly crawling up the window? Anything, really.

Some days at my house over the past couple of weeks have been so chaotic that I wonder where I’ll find time to brush my teeth, let alone write the 1700 words required each day.

Then a beep in my inbox reminds me I have mail – a notification from a moderator that the next Word War is about to start (Don’t panic; that’s “Word” not “World”)

Word Wars are something you can do with your own writer friends. Set a time, and write as much as you can for an hour. You can write a lot more than you think in that time. The thing about a Word War is that you commit to write at the same time every day; you commit to write with other writers; you commit to write full stop.

To start with, you might sit there looking at a blank screen, but I find that the pressure of a time constraint spurs me on. If the words don’t come, drag them out kicking and screaming. Later, you can decide they’re worth keeping. To me, writing is what matters – getting your manuscript to the publishable stage is editing – it’s something that holds you back. I never try ti get it right first time, I just try for words on paper – and the more words I get, the more that seem to come.

Every day I participate in at least one Word War and I average around 1500 words. Imagine doing this for a month and seeing how many words you have by the end. For me, this has been not just about bringing back discipline, but also about cutting my writing into manageable pieces. I don’t have to allow myself seven hours a day to write – so much can be achieved in a single hour – or even half that time.

Okay, I confess. There have been many times over the last couple of weeks when the words have not flowed smoothly. When in spite of a detailed plotline, I have thought “where to from here?”  I’ve had to do more research to take the story to the next step – and that has been loads of fun too. Last week I discovered how to saddle a camel, how to light fires without matches, how to cook and eat termites – and even what they taste like (woody carrots – apparently)

So if there are two things I’m learning from NaNoWriMo it’s to cut your writing time into portions that are manageable for you, and to be disciplined in your writing – even ten minutes a day is better than nothing.

And if you can’t write, sit down and do it anyway. Drag those words kicking and screaming onto the page. Don’t let them defeat you.

I hope your NaNoWriMo novels are going well and even if they’re not, try and work through the dark days and keep going.

If you have any tips or stories about your NaNoWriMo experience, I’d love to share them with my blog readers. Feel free to tell us your NaNo tips and troubles in the comments section of this blog.

Happy writing:)

Dee

P.S. The pics in this post, will give you a hint of what my NaNo novel is about.

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12 thoughts on “IF THE WORDS WON’T COME, DRAG THEM OUT KICKING AND SCREAMING

  1. Useful post, Dee. I’m doing the NaNaWri Mo too, for the first time this year. I did, however, set myself a target of 25,000 words because I only wanted to finish the first draft of a children’s novel.
    Then I put the ‘spanner in the works’ by completing that first draft in the first week – such is the force of being in a group who support each other’s efforts (plus the frequent Word Wars).
    I decided to start the first draft of the second story in the series, but it is proving harder to do because I haven’t had the chance yet to cogitate over the plot and outline. But, I’m having a go and hopefully in the next 14 days I can knock this one over the head too!
    Here’s my tip: I have a calender page (with big spaces per day) up on the whiteboard in front of my desk with each day’s total word count, plus the final count and the all-important number I’ve managed that day ringed. Having the word counts visible like that helps spur me on.
    Good writing, anyone doing NaNoWriMo – as Dee says, this is not a time to be worrying about the inadequacies of those words but getting them out of your head and visible. And the learned discipline to write is enough reward in itself. 🙂

  2. Interesting pics. Makes me wonder about your novel. I admit i’m still behind on my word count. Life keeps getting in the way. But this morning’s been a good writing time. I’m not a plotter so I’m interested in the way events are happening and the story is taking shape.

  3. It’s those damned elephants that grab me every time!

    Thanks for the ideas and encouragement, Dee. I thought i was a pacifist, but now I am moving pro war so long as it’s word war.

  4. Thanks Dale,

    Glad to hear you have had a good writing morning. My novel is a survival story about two teens stranded in outback Australia. I’m having lots of fun with it.

    Dee:)

  5. Love your determination, Debbie,

    It can be hard slog. I’ve joined a group called the NaNoWriMo Warriors (you’ll find them on my Facebook page) and they are great for keeping you motivated and giving support. I find that Word Wars are really good. In the group we do them against each other, but you can also do them on your own just by setting aside an hour and seeing how many words you can write in that time.

    I just try and take it in manageable parts. Some days I have more time to write and some days I don’t:)

    Good luck with your NaNo novel. Feel free to yell if you’re having a particular problem with it, and I’ll see if I can make some useful suggestions.

    Dee:)

    Good luck. You’re most welcome to join the Warriors if you haven’t already.

  6. Thanks for this Dee. I’m waaaayyyyyy behind on my wordcount, but who cares. I’m writing! I’d love to know more about word wars.

  7. Hi Sue,

    I’m in a group called the NaNoWriMo Warriors. Here’s the URL and you are welcome to join http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_111157412281395#!/home.php?sk=group_111157412281395&ap=1

    We have Word Wars 4 times a day. There is a moderator for each war and they go for an hour. When the moderator calls, “go”, you write as many words as you can in an hour. Then when the moderator calls, “stop” everyone stops writing and you compare word counts. You are really only competing against yourself. The idea is to write for a set period of time, at a set period of time and it gets you into good writing habits and it’s fun to be writing with other writers all over the world.

    Hope to see you there:)

    Dee

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