Jessica Critcher showed you how to get your novel set up on the NaNoWriMo website, and two of her tools for success. Here are some of my tips for beating writers block and keeping your word count growing throughout the month.
I typically write by hand, and one of the reasons is so I can track my new ideas without disrupting the flow of the thought I’m currently writing. By using a legal pad, I can flip to the next blank page to jot down a new prompt–a piece of dialogue, a concept, or even a single word–that I can return to later. This is my main strategy for coping with writers block throughout the year, and it keeps my pen moving during NaNoWriMo. If you don’t write by hand, you can just as easily do this in whatever word processor you use. (Pro Tip: You can set up your prompts now, just be sure to not include them in your word count in November!)
Hemingway’s strategy, known as the Iceberg Theory or Theory of Omission, helped keep his work direct and minimal, but packed with underlying emotion. His concept was that in fiction, the reader witnesses tip of the iceberg of the character’s experience, but the writer themselves know the full depth of the character under the surface, with the majority of the details not included in the story. For NaNoWriMo, you can chuck the Iceberg Theory out the window. You’re here to write 50,000 words! If you come up with a subplot or backstory for your character–include it! You never know what you’ll end up keeping in your final novel, or if that little idea might become a story of it’s own someday.
Put Genre Aside, For Now
When writers set out write a story, we may already have an idea for what genre it is and the approximate length. Sometimes we are right on the money, and that horror short story turns out to be exactly as spooky and brief as we expected. Other times, you may plan a paranormal novella, and the next thing you know, you’re writing a contemporary romance series. While understanding the common plot curves and tropes of a genre can help steer your novel, for NaNoWriMo it’s more important to get the ideas down–and word count up! Don’t let labeling your work stymie your productivity.
The biggest thing to remember during NaNoWriMo is you aren’t striving for a perfect, finished novel. It can take months, or even years, to produce a final manuscript. Your challenge in November is to produce 50k words of content that you can re-work and revise in the future.