Last year, for NaNoWriMo, I did a whole rewrite of a previous novel I had tried, so that in the month I legitimately wrote 50,000+ new words. Also, since it was my first time, I was extremely on track and was on my computer nearly all hours.
This year, I’m working on a WIP. Even if it had 35k words to start, I plan on adding 50k more (and 25k more to that, to an even 100k), so that my NaNoWriMo load is no less heavy!
But this year I have learned how to procrastinate. However it is productive procrastination so allow me to share my wisdom with you.
The cornerstone of every great novel is a harried writer, an exasperated editor, and volumes of research!
Since you’re doing NaNoWriMo, the only really component that makes sense (because we have a deadline, people!) is the harried writer. So don’t read this and think you must go off to library and bury yourself alive with books. In fact, when it gets down to the wire and you feel the need to procrastinate, the last one you want to do is research. It may or may not be addicting.
Anyway! When the procrastination bug hits, do some research. Look into the bits of the world you’re creating that you’re still hazy about. Look up tips on plotting or character development (like reading this blog). Sometimes, even, taking a break and reading a good novel is the best research of all.
When you can hardly drink your coffee or tea because you’re typing so fast, that is not the time to procrastinate. When you miss two meals but you’re so damn close to your next plot point, that is not the time to procrastinate. When you sit in front of your computer and repeatedly hit your head on keyboard to try to make something happen, that…that would be the time to procrastinate. Or check into a mental asylum, either/or.
Plotting, unlike research, is less time consuming and keeps you closer to the topic of your novel. It’s also one you can do when you hit a dry spell but don’t want to leave your word doc. Just sit back. Maybe make some tea. Close your eyes and imagine where your book is going. You have the big points, but what happens in between? What sort of emotional reveals happen? Is there any comedic relief? Flashbacks? Twists and turns? Then, once you’ve plotted out some finer details, get back to writing and keep on going!
3. Minor editing
This is not revising or rereading. I just want to make that clear because doing either of those is supremely unproductive. So what if you have some flow issues in the third chapter? So what if things get a bit tangled up in the fifth? Do not sit there, replot, and reconstruct because that can easily be done later. Maybe, even, when you hit the end of NaNoWriMo you’ll realize something new you want to add to that bungle of chapter 5 that clears everything up and provides some stylish foreshadowing.
Meanwhile, editing is reading over (presumably just a bit before your current location in your novel) and correcting that ‘form’ to ‘from’. Or adding the verb in the sentence that you had forgotten to. It’s just a minor mechanical exercise that allows you to actively read and work on your novel and, tada!, be productive.
4. Designing a cover in Photoshop
Okay, so this may be my least productive option, but it’s gold. When you have that cover (or multiple covers as inspiration hits you), you will be all fired up to work on your story. You’ll have something to show your friends or post on your blog or tweet on twitter rather than a snapshot of your less than glorious (only at the moment!) manuscript.
For example, here is mine (which can be seen on the sticky post above, too)
See, much better than my 75 word doc of word vomit!
Take a break. Walk away from the computer and read a novel by your favorite author. Or, even better, a novel in the genre you are WriMo’ing for. I’m working on fantasy with sarcastic edge, so what better book to rea than The Once and Future King by T.H. White? Or, if you’re writing a more somber fantasy, pick up a classic Lord of the Rings or maybe even Outlander. For supernatural or paranormal romance, grab an Anne Rice book or Neil Gaiman.
Just read and that will fire you up to write your novel and give you some inspiration your blinking cursor in the blank word doc just can’t provide.
Alright, well that’s all I have. Stay posted and keep writing!