I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year, because dammit, while I love my short stories and my flash fiction, I’ve got a couple of novels that I know I want to write. (Feel free to add me as a writing buddy; do toss me a note when you do so I know who you are!)
I’m also browsing the forums when I take breaks; much the same as with writing conferences, giving (and reading) advice on writing motivate me. While there’s some specific novel-based advice that I’m not qualified to talk about, there’s a lot that I am able to talk about competently.
There’s also some tools that are really, really useful for me that I want to share.
The Everchanging Book of Names – This bit of shareware is great for generating plausible names that are both consistent and can be differentiated. If you’re running it under WINE, you’ll want to use a script like this one.
Zim – A desktop wiki. By far the easiest of these to use – because you don’t have to know WikiMarkup. If you’re not using Scrivener, this will help you keep your stuff organized.
Dropbox – To keep my stuff synced across computers and avoid excuses. Dropbox is great and fast for on-demand access to your files. 2 gigs free storage, more with referrals.
DirSyncPro – To keep the thumbdrive synced. There are other programs like this, but this one’s crossplatform, which is the main reason I need a thumb drive at all.
SpiderOak – For backups (getting access is much slower than Dropbox, but its versioning is much nicer). Aside from my normal “large” backup, I’ve started a scheduled task that only re-scans my “current writing” folder by using a command line that looks like this:
K.W. Taylor’s Advice on Getting Through NaNo Without Losing Your Mind – She knows of what she speaks.
Eighth Day Genesis – Yes, I know, I’m the publisher. I refer back to this book regularly. It is that useful. Something like 90% of the questions I see on the worldbuilding, fantasy, horror, and science fiction forums at the NaNo site are answered in this book. It’s well worth picking up – especially since digital versions of Eighth Day Genesis are on sale through November.
And finally, I think I distilled a huge chunk of advice I’ve gotten, read, or heard over the years into these ten points. And I’m doing my damnest to remember them.
- Start writing.
- Don’t try to go back and fix anything until the story’s done.
- Give yourself permission to write complete and utter junk. “You can’t fix crappy writing if there’s nothing on the page.”
- When you realize you want to change/add something, make a note for yourself when you’re done and keep going.
- Don’t put off writing until later. Later never comes.
- Writing is a skill and takes practice. Practice is writing. Do it.
- Don’t put off writing until you’re “inspired”.
- If you get stuck, skip ahead in the story and write the next bit.
- When you must stop, stop in the middle of a scene or sentence. It’ll be easier to start again.
- Keep writing.
What tips and tools are you using with NaNo