by Morgan S. Hazelwood
Getting The Words Out
Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or just trying to get your story out, it can be a struggle.
When To Write!
We’re all busy. Overworked, overscheduled, over-committed. If you want your story to ever finish though, you need to stop leaving it for that mythical free time.
Personally, I find it takes me about 30 minutes to get started, but if you prioritize it, 30 minutes a day can be enough to keep you moving forward.
Honestly, the tricky thing about writing to a target word count is that time restraints can HELP. If I have 6 hours to write 2,000 words, it will take 6 hours. If I have 90 minutes, somehow I can manage to get it done. And even if I don’t? I’m a lot closer than I was!
One way to make writing a priority is to set aside a specific time that works for you.
- Your commute – do you use public transit? Have a carpool buddy?
- Early morning – twitter has a #5amwritersclub for those who squeeze their writing in before work and/or kids get up
- Late night – many of us aren’t early birds though. Maybe your best writing time is after everyone else is asleep. Fewer distractions and facebook updates to pay attention to
- After dinner – you’re fed, your day job is likely over, if you have roommates or family, they’re probably settling in for the night – watching tv or going to bed. This can be your time
- During your lunch break – whenever you can squeeze it in!
Ways to make time
- Delivery food or microwave dinners
- Make someone else cook
- Skip cleaning. JK Rowling says the way she made time for her writing is she lived in ‘utter squalor’. She basically didn’t clean for 3 years.
- Wear only pajamas – that way, you don’t have to worry about laundry!
Ways to Un-stick Your Writing
Okay, so you’ve made the time and now writing. But what if you get stuck while the clock is ticking on your narrow writing window! You don’t know what happens next! Now what?
- add a meal — your characters have to eat like 3 times a day.
- did they have to find/buy/hunt the food
- did they have to cook the food…
- start a fight
- have tensions been brewing?
- is there a character who doesn’t like the main character?
- subplot time!
- If you don’t know what to do in the main plot, maybe it’s time for a subplot. A secondary character’s adventure? A romance? A rivalry? It’s up to you!
- write backstory vignettes for secondary characters.
- Even if you’re not going to keep it in the manuscript, sometimes you need to know more about these characters, might as well get word count credit for it. Plus, now you have a short story you can sell separately
- write world-building mythologies for your world
- Creation myths, sun, moons, stars…
- skip naming characters
- Names mean a lot. And can color a character. Naming a single character can take me 3-5 hours! And we don’t have that sort of time during NaNo. That sort of thing can mess up your flow. So, instead, use placeholder names like: NPC1, Alice, Bob, Carol… Anything to keep from impeding your writing.
Things to Remember
Don’t forget about YOURSELF. Your story isn’t the only thing that matters! Don’t forget to eat, hydrate, and sleep. Maybe even plot in your head while taking a walk.
And, I wasn’t kidding, see if you can make someone else fix you dinner.
Guest post contributed by Morgan Hazelwood. Morgan is currently working on the fantasy coming-of-age adventure Flesh and Ink. These days, when not writing, you can find her devouring book series on her kindle, hitting the gym, dressing up at local conventions, or feeding her web comic addiction. She also lends her voice to Anansi Storytelling – a radio-style podcast of folk tales from around the world.