Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is a great way for you to actually push yourself to write, but critics can often see it as an exercise in pushing yourself way too fast, and over the edge. Maybe into insanity? Or into mediocrity? In either case, you may be going too fast nowhere, so now's the time to see how well you'll fare in November.

Here's an experiment that you may want to try. Do freehand writing, without making any judgments in terms of grammar, syntax, and style. Just write whatever comes to mind. However, set a time for yourself. Say, set a timer to five minutes, and stop writing as soon as the timer goes off. Now, count how many words you've put in. This is your word speed when you're not thinking and just writing like there's no tomorrow.

Pick a time of the day to do this: you can choose the morning, when you wake up, so that you don't have any idea what the problems of the day will be; or you can choose the evening, right before you sleep, so that the day's problems can be washed away through writing. In any case, pick a convenient time, a time when you are not forced to write.

This exercise will allow you to see how fast you write when you are having fun and just letting your ideas fly. You may want to note your speed, just so you know if you're really on a roll (writing at your recorded speed or slightly higher or slightly lower), if your writing might be going a little out of hand (if you're writing way too much, and most likely not making a lot of sense), or if you are getting burned out (if you're going way too slow).

Of course, this isn't your single benchmark for good writing, but it can be a good guide for NaNoWriMo. After all, you do need to know when you should stop writing and start breathing for a moment.

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