1. Writing every day is good. I’ve been doing a lot of editing lately, so I felt a bit rusty jumping back into novel writing. Pushing myself to write every day is helping get me back in the groove, and I’m finding that I’m more focused on the story as a whole and quicker at solving issues. Even if you can’t write every day, it’s helpful to try to write as often as you can. Just like swimming, if you don’t practice, your skills can get rusty (and you won’t be able to do those cool jump dives from the side of the pool like you used to).
2. It doesn’t matter what you write – WRITE. Some purists may consider it cheating to include writing that isn’t within your novel, but I think that as long as you’re getting words down, it can count. The novel I’m writing is about characters putting on a play, so not only am I writing the novel, but also the play within (I searched for a version online but couldn’t find one). Whenever I hit a brick wall on the novel, I’ll turn around and write the play, so I can stay productive instead of staring at my screen blankly. Sometimes, if I get stuck on both, I’ll do word-sprints to help outline the plot or work through a problem. While these things aren’t necessarily helping the novel’s word-count, it’s still writing and it’s still helpful.
3. Seriously – JUST WRITE. It was only day 2 in NaNo when I decided to pause and write a Kit Sora fiction. Sometimes I get stuck in a project and don’t know where to go next, so I need something else to think about, like an amuse-bouche for my brain. It keeps me writing, and there are so many other things out there to write (like Flying Stories). As a bonus, sometimes while I’m writing something else, my novel will notice that my attention’s elsewhere and get jealous. ‘Remember me? You should get back to me! Here are tons of ideas!‘
4. Don’t get discouraged if what you write isn’t perfect. This novel is already showing signs of being a good Zero Draft instead of a good First Draft. I’ve got some great scenes and character development, but it’ll need a lot of tightening up. However, instead of going back and trying to make it perfect, I’m writing notes to my future self of what’s needed, before moving on. I won’t finish this novel if I worry about every single word I’ve written, but I will if I keep going forward. As Socrates once said*, It’s better to have a draft that needs work than no draft at all.
5. It’s okay to hold back and wait for inspiration. I find it easier to write when I know what’s coming next or what I want to say. At one point I knew that I wanted to describe a show that was going on, but I didn’t want to write it from my main character’s point of view. So I held off and moved to the next chapter instead of forcing myself to write something I didn’t want to write. Then, that night, I was thinking about the story and I realized exactly who’s point of view I could use. The next day I started writing and SUCCESS! The words came easily and quickly, and the scene was finished in no time.
6. …Just don’t wait too long! Remember that you shouldn’t go too many days without writing. If your inspiration for the next scene isn’t coming along, think of a scene that you want to write and move on to that. If I’m struggling to write something, usually it’s because there’s something off about it. I’ll try to change it, mix it up, or think about it another way. Or cut it out altogether and write something else.
7. There’s still time. November ain’t over yet! Even if you don’t make it to 50,000 words, if you’ve been even the least bit productive, it’s been worth it. And when November ends, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop. Keep on writing! Words forever! Huzzah!
*Socrates totally did not say that.