A few writing tips…

*reposted from 1st november 2012*

This post was going to be specifically for those who are taking part in NaNoWriMo but I thought I’d expand it for anyone whose interested.

If you’re wondering what NaNoWriMo it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and it’s purpose is to write a novel in just one month. So that’s 50,000 words in 30 days! THIS link should give you all the information you need to know!

I’ve decided that I’m *not* going to take part this year. Well, not officially. I have 2 non-fiction e-book projects which I want to work on so I’m going to use the NaNoWriMo structure and get shit done! Plus, I’m not much of a fiction writer, I cover lifestyle, travel and current affairs topics but I do (in my spare time) write the odd piece of fiction so here are a few writing tips that I try to live by (a mix of tips for fiction and non fiction).

Know in advance that it’s going to be hard – writing isn’t easy or glamorous. There are times when I have no money, stress from pitching and deadlines and I think what’s the point? But then I remember this poem by Charles Bukowski entitled “So you want to be a writer” and it sets me right.

Here’s a small excerpt:

If you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don’t do it.

If you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it.

If you’re doing it because you want women in your bed, don’t do it.

If you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again, don’t do it.

If it’s hard work just thinking about doing it, don’t do it.

If you’re trying to write like somebody else, forget about it.

Word count…

When it comes to NaNoWriMo then consider front loading your words. Motivation is high in the first week or two so capitalise on it. Nicole Humphrey recommends this schedule…
Week One
Day 1: 3346 • Day 2: 3216 •Day 3: 3101 •Day 4: 2986 •Day 5: 2872 •Day 6: 2757 •Day 7: 2642 •Day 8: 2527 •Day 9: 2412 •Day 10: 2298 •Day 11: 2183 •Day 12: 2068 •Day 13: 1953 •Day 14: 1838 •Day 15: 1724 •Day 16: 1609 •Day 17: 1494 •Day 18: 1379 •Day 19: 1264 •Day 20: 1150 •Day 21: 1035 •Day 22: 920 •Day 23: 805 •Day 24: 690 •Day 25: 576 •Day 26: 461 •Day 27: 346 •Day 28: 231 •Day 29: 116 •Day 30: 1

A few of my own tips…

Work your own way…
I like having the telly or talk radio on whilst I work. I like having the chaos of the dogs running around or the buzz of a busy coffee shop but I hate working with music in the background, for some strange reason I find it insanely distracting! That’s just my way. Don’t let people tell you how you should write…you don’t have to lock yourself away and write as though you’re in a prison cell. Just find an environment where you’re comfortable and get on with it.

Stephen King said this about writing:
In truth, I’ve found that any day’s routine interruptions and distractions don’t much hurt a work in progress and may actually help it in some ways.

Don’t edit whilst you’re writing.
Sometimes you just need to get it all out. Creating and editing are two completely separate processes using different sides of the brain, it won’t work if you’re trying to do both at once.

Whether it’s a magazine or a novel – keep reading.

Fake it until you make it!
Are you put off writing because you don’t think you’re very good? So what. Why let that stop you. If you want to write…write. You’ll get better, honestly.

When editing read your work aloud.

You know how you like wasting time on facebook, twitter and pinterest?
Turn it around and use it to your advantage by using it to visualise, build characters, find names, garner inspiration etc

Mind Map
I’ve been trying to do this more and more with blog posts. It’s SO much easier to get things done when you’ve got a mind map to organise and structure research. More info about mind mapping HERE

Go old school – use a pen and paper
I know that some people may think that this a colossal waste of time but I always write everything out manually before I even consider sitting at a computer. OK maybe not for everything but when I’m working I always write things out first. It just helps me formulate ideas and get some structure.


Some sites you may like…

Cliche Finder – Over 3,300 cliches indexed for your convenience.

A visual dictionary

Turn your computer in to a typewriter.

Writing cheat-sheet

Why self publishing is no longer a vanity project.

Grammar Girl

7 ways to kick start the writing habit

4 writing rules from Hemingway…

1. Use short sentences.
2. Use short first paragraphs.
3. Use vigorous English.
4. Be positive, not negative.

I shall leave you with a link to this letter that Hemingway wrote to Scott Fitzgerald in 1934. This segment is my favorite…

“For Christ sake write and don’t worry about what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece nor what. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket. You feel you have to publish crap to make money to live and let live.”

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Author: Rachael

I'm a journalist and creative consultant. I write about how busy women (just like you) can live, work and eat - better.

5 thoughts on “A few writing tips…”

  1. 50,000 words is a lot for 30 days. Now that is SOME challenge, but I may be able to do it by speaking because I’ve been told I talk too much!
    Seriously, some great tips here. Thank you for sharing

  2. Thanks for the resource links. I’ll check them out. I agree with Lorraine that writing a fiction novel is on the bucket list, but not this month.

    Also, I am glad you said to work your own way. For me, it varies. Some days I can focus for a long time; other days I need to break my work up. And sometimes I can be productive first thing in the morning, other times I burn the midnight oil.

  3. Wow – While I love reading fiction, I have never thought about writing fiction. For me, I am the most productive in the early morning or early evening. I do feel the most creative in the morning though…great post…

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