Monday, November 05, 2007


Is anyone taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? For those who don't know what it is, it's basically an organized effort to have people write 50,000 words in the month of November, or 1667 words per day.

If you're falling behind on our 100-day challenge, this may be a great way to get caught up and meet the deadline of Dec. 13. It's very intense, but the nice thing is there's a forum at the NaNoWriMo site where you can ask questions on anything from help with a plot to what types of helmets were worn in 15th Century England to scenery help of Thailand. My first time at NaNoWriMo, I was writing a book that took place in Edinburgh, Scotland. So I went to the thread for Scotland and asked the locals for scenery help. It was very beneficial.

Whether or not you're doing NaNoWriMo, you're likely doing the 100-day challenge and having to do some speed writing. So let's talk about speed writing techniques.

First of all, I don't edit as a I go. That would take me forever and I'd never move on from anything. Second, I tend to write primarily dialogue when I'm writing on a first draft. That comes naturally to me, it's adding the description, backstory and internals that stalls me on the clock. Other than that I don't really have any speed writing strategies.

What do you do to speed write? Any tricks or tips?


Paty Jager said...

To write for speed, I just have to put my butt in the chair and have the time to write! LOL

I'm hoping to have my own NaNo month as soon as my company all leaves.

I still plan to be in the running for Eli's challenge. After this week- It's all hands on the keyboard and brain in 1889!

Good luck with getting your NaNo done!

Lisa Pulliam said...

Butt in chair sounds like a good plan. I Hope you're able to put the pedal to the metal once you have a clear house! Good luck to you too :)

Karen Duvall said...

Hmm... I seem to be starting a lot of comments lately with hmmm...

I'm not sure what speedwriting is, but I imagine if you set a timer and typed as many words as you could within that time, that would be speed writing, right? I did that a couple of times and it's really effective. I think I wrote a little over 400 words in 20 minutes. I've only done it twice, but it's a good gauge for how much you can get done within a finite amount of time.

The other form of speed writing, I think, is the uncontrollable kind. That happens when you're on a roll, in the grove, going with the flow, etc. It's when you can hardly keep up with the story running through your brain. That's exciting. I experience that more with this book than with any other I've ever written.

I do find my dialogue scenes move faster, but that's because dialogue is easy to write for most writers. I still get in my scene setting, atmosphere, emotions, backstory, foreshadowing, etc., as I write along, but I'll flesh it out even more when I do my edits.

I'm not doing NaNo. I'm doing Sven's 70 days of sweat.

Right now I'm up to 37,575 words and am aiming for 100K. I'm averaging about 1000 to 1500 words a day, but sometimes get over 2000 when I'm "in the groove." 8^) I've discovered that I enjoy writing with football games playing on tv in the background. Isn't that weird? I can't write with music playing, but I can with football. Go figure.

Alice Sharpe said...

Alice here. What's with &*%$##@ blogger?

Anyway, generally speaking, I don't do the challenges. I've been doing Eli's Challenge simply because I have to work anyway. And really, sometimes I don't understand the challenges very well --the needing them to make myself work -- but that's just because I don't have the other distractions you have, Lisa, with a job and school or you, Karen with a business out of your home, or even a woman with small children to tend. I know that.

I am driven to write by the same urge you all have to tell a story and get it down on "paper" in such a way that other people will want to read it. I write books now the way I've written them from the beginning and that's from start to finish in a linear line with minor rewrites as I go, with major problems solved when the right times comes whether it's in the beginning or in the end. Rewriting for me is a matter of layering and texturing and cleaning up loose ends and is enjoyable. I could never write a book knowing there were major problems in past pages that were waiting to snap at me when I went back to rout them.

It seems most people fall basically into one of two camps. The go forward, never go back camp and the write forward go back and fix, write forward, go back and fix camp. That's just the way an individual writes and I think to try to change your basic method would be very hard..

(I beef up description after I finish a book, too.)
Fun blog!

Lisa Pulliam said...

Karen, I've never thought about using a timer like that. Great idea! Might be a good fit for my ADD :) My version of speed writing is just writing for getting as many words out as possible, instead of quality. But I'm not exactly speedy so I probably need a new name lol. When is Sven's 70 days of sweat over?

Alice, rewriting is enjoyable for you?? Man, I admire that. I can't stand editing or rewriting, I struggle so much with it. Part of me thinks it would be somewhat productive for a writer to just write and edit one page a day. A complete book within a year wouldn't be too bad.

Karen Duvall said...

Lisa, Sven's 70 Days of Sweat is over on January 15. It's a nice, doable timeframe. 8^)

I didn't write much at all today. I had a couple of looong meetings, and I'm working on a package design project for client with an innovative new product. That's kind of fun, but I'd still rather be writing.

I didn't produce much today. Just a page. Sigh. I might do more tonight, though I'm getting kind of tired. However, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are playing against each other, so I could get another page or two in before I collapse. 8^)

Lisa, give that timer a try! It really works.


wavybrains said...

I'm really missing doing NaNoWriMo. It was my jumpstart the last 3 years. What I found worked was starting my day with writing--before getting dressed even!!

Great tips Alice and Karen!

Danita Cahill said...

To speed write, I've used a timer. It works good for little bursts of writing. I also had good luck a couple years back when a group of us from the RWA chick lit chapter would meet in a chat room. We'd gap for a bit and then go write for 15 or 20 minutes, then come back into the chat room to talk about what we'd written. I used to get quite a bit done during those times, but they were in the evenings and the scheduling didn't always work.

Elisabeth Naughton said...

I have to edit as I go. In a suspense, the story builds from the beginning forward. If something's wrong at the beginning (like a clue) then the ending won't work.

I've never done NANO, the thought scares me. But interestingly enough, the 1000-words per day doesn't. Go figure. LOL