Monday, October 25, 2010

Binge Writing - the 30 Day Novel!

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is NOT a line of lyrics from a Lady Gaga song.  It stand for National Novel Writing Month - a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. the idea is simple: start writing November 1 and complete a 50,000-word novel by midnight, November 30.

This is your chance to kick out a large number of words to finish a novel in record time. Many people start the challenge and end up with a sizeable number of pages by the end. Some are inspired to start writing for the first time. Others are inspired to finish something for the first time. Most of us find that writing at breakneck speed produces a lower quality of work that doesn’t reflect what is normally produced when writing within our own timing. But no matter - we have something to work with.

There are ways to make speed writing more effective. The overall goal is to produce more in a shorter period of time but if you keep it up, who knows?  Speed writing may become a habit.  Here are a few tips.


When you set out to write a novel in a short period of time, outlining is your friend. Take a week to write a detailed outline of the story. It will help to work out most of the kinks before you even sit down to write. Create character profiles of the main characters and review your outline before the start of your writing marathon.

Plan it

If you are going to focus on spitting out as many words as possible per day, then plan it. Block out your writing time for the month. Figure out when you are most productive. Is it in the morning, at night or midday? Make a rule – no sleep unless you have kicked out a minimum number of words. Make sure you schedule extra time for working out of corners or temporary writer’s blocks. Make your schedule somewhat flexible so you don’t get burned out and give up.

Write it

With your outline beside you and a bullet list of your character profile – start the race. Follow your outline. If you want to go rogue, go ahead, write until the road block. If you reach a road block – write anything, take some time off to think on it, then re-work your outline and get back to it. Whatever you do – don’t stop writing. Remember, you will always have to edit it anyway.

Don’t look back

Whatever you do, don’t read over what you’ve written until you are finished. That is an easy way to get distracted. Remember, you’ll have to edit the thing many times before your piece of art is perfected. Just write forward, don’t make corrections, don’t read over it, just push forward and write.  Writing is like driving at night.  You can only see a little ways ahead but you have to have faith that the road continues past there.  You might be surprised how much you can get done in 30 days if you just keep going. 
Get the details on NaNoWriMo, sign up and make the committment at 


Mark W. Danielson said...

I once wrote 150 pages for a new novel in four days, but then it's easy when you're stuck in Kazakhstan. (Fewer distractions)

Jean Henry Mead said...

Good advice, Austin, but I always have to read the previous chapter to get rolling into the next. I'm a fast writer and never outline my novels although my nonfiction books wouldn't go anywhere without one. And 1,800 words a day is only 300 more than I usually write, so I think I'll go for my first NaNoWriMo. Thanks for the head's up.

Wow, Mark, more of us should visit Kazakhstan!

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm the same way as Jean. I can't go cold turkey when I write, except at the very beginning of the book. Then, of course, I have not choice.

I need to ground myself with what happened before. It slows me down, but that's the only way I can do it.

Wish I could do NaNoWriMo this year, but I still have an unfinished book from trying it a few years back.

Morgan Mandel

Mark W. Danielson said...

Your comment, "Whatever you do, don’t read over what you’ve written until you are finished." says it all. Writing a novel is easy. It's the editing that takes time and effort. Of course, getting it published is a whole different animal.