RPT NaNoWritMo Style

Red Pencil Thursday

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Well, we’re out of intrepid volunteers for our regular Red Pencil Thursday online critique group, so I’ll share what’s up with my own writing. Because I have a Jan 1st deadline, I’m doing my own little NaNoWriMo. (I can’t sign up for the real one because I believe I’d be required to post my work. Since the story I’m writing is under contract, that would constitute publishing it and would be a violation of my agreement with my publisher.) But today for Red Pencil Thursday I thought I’d share a few of my tips for writing fast.

Why is it important to write quickly?

For one, my challenge is always pushing the story out. Once I get something on the page, I can always revise it into something better. To quote the brilliant Nora Roberts: “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.”

Writing quickly helps you outrun that pesky internal editor we all have. You know who I mean. She’s that hyper-critical voice that whispers discouragement and negativity into our ears. We want to turn her off every chance we get.

If my fingers are flying, I’m more likely to be plugged into the creative portion of my brain. I’m in tighter POV with my characters and since I write character driven fiction, that means the meat of their issues will bubble to the surface in ways I hadn’t expected.

So how do I set myself up to write quickly?

1. Set short term goals. I aim for 10 pages or 2500 words a day. Do I make it every day? No, but more often than not, I do. On the flip side, if you aim at nothing, you’re likely to hit it.

2. Write only dialogue. If I write 2 pages of back and forth, no tags, no action, no setting or character descriptions, when I go back and add those layers, my 2 pages can easily blossom into 4. I know the NaNoWriMo purists would call this editing, but it’s my process. I always go forward and back like shuttlecock, adding new threads to the weave of my story.

3. Time yourself. Set your oven timer for 15 or 30 minutes and purpose in your heart only to go forward for that period of time. Keep your fingers moving. My friend Charlotte Hubbard says sometimes she types a couple lines of “This is junk. This is junk. This is junk.” before she’s able to find the story path moving on in her head. The important thing is to keep your hands on the keyboard.

4. Take a short break. Fold the laundry. Walk the dog. Even, heaven forfend, clean your bathroom. And while you’re doing those mindless tasks, take your characters with you and run the scene in your mind. You’ll return to the keyboard energized and raring to go.

5. Try longhand. If the blank screen has you temporarily stymied, take a yellow legal pad and start writing old school. You’re less likely to be tempted to edit with pen in hand. Save that for when you transcribe the shiny new scene to your computer.

So that’s it. Good luck on meeting your writing goals. Oh, and here’s the most important reason to write quickly. It leaves more time for living. Writers research and imagine, but we also experience and then extrapolate those experiences to our characters.

If we don’t have a life, we don’t have anything to write about.

Now it’s your turn to share your tips for speedy prose!

My Lady Below Stairs

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A Duke for All Seasons

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Looking for a quick read? Check out my eNovellas A Duke for All Seasons and My Lady Below Stairs, available for either Kindle or Nook.

6 thoughts on “RPT NaNoWritMo Style

  1. Great tips, Mia!

    BTW, you can do a search and replace on a copy of your MS and change every word to the letter ‘a’ to submit for counting purposes for the official NaNo. I think the certificate you can print out is probably less meaningful than your sign contract though! =)

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Interesting, Kristen. Clearly I don’t know all the ins and outs of the program, but I heartily approve of the goal of encouraging writers to push their stories out.

  2. Karri Lyn Halley says:

    I write a lot of holiday inspired short stories, so as the holiday approaches that gives me a good deadline. I’m in the “spirit” of that holiday, so that helps too.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      It would be nice if we could write our stories during the time of the year in our books. I usually end up writing about a sparkling London Season (which means spring and early summer) in the dead of winter. And I wrote MY LADY BELOW STAIRS, my Christmas novella during a string of 90 degree days of July and August!

  3. Barbara Britton says:

    Hi Mia,

    Clocks and timers work wonders for getting words on a page. Also, posting goals with friends keeps me accountable.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Knowing I have to have something for my crit partner lights a fire under me too.

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