about writing and other such passionate matters

Tackling the NaNoWriMo by the horns

(Sonia Rao reveals some secret tips to aceing NaNoWriMo. Well-begun is half-done, they say. So, with four months remaining to NaNoWriMo it is certainly a good idea to start prepping, no?)

You win the NaNoWriMo (lovingly called nano) if you write a novel of atleast 50K words, in a month.

Non-fiction writing is not considered in this competition so even if you are a world-famous rocket scientist, you cannot write a book containing fool-proof rocket – making formulae, but you can certainly write a 50K word story about your main character who, incidentally, is a rocket scientist and involved in developing an eco – friendly rocket which can go to Mars and come back with actual water samples and more (let your imagination fly loose here, you great sci-fi fans).

Now, I hear a clamour around me that says: “I am not a rocket scientist; I am just a student/housewife/vice-president of a company. I don’t have a story, what shall I write about?”

So, how does one actually tackle the Nano?

My two Nano experiences have taught me many things. The foremost of those is that if a writer wants to write a novel, he/she must write everyday. And not just the one you will do in November, which you will do anyway, if you want to win. I am talking of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours kind of writing. This kind of quantity is required to finally come up with a book that you can get published in the traditional way (no guarantees, even then).

Is this your first nano?

If yes, then, write, write and write. Don’t worry too much about your story outline, characters, plot points, conflict, and so on, at this point.

Get that first story off your chest and into the pages.

Mind you, I am referring to those writers who have never taken formal training in writing but love to write for the love of it and do it sporadically but with a much better average expertise than a layperson(sounds almost like a requirement for a writing ‘Masterchef India’, doesn’t it?).

Even in this madness there is a method.

(BTW, did I mention you have to write everyday, write everyday, write everyday. I did, didn’t I? You don’t know what to write, is it? How about using word prompts: they can lead to some truly delightful stories.)

For the nano, you will begin with at least one idea that is in your head since the last 15 years / 3 months/last night. And you will think about this idea as you go about studying for the irritating exams that will happen as soon as the colleges open after diwali vacation / getting the maid to do the Diwali cleaning to the level that only your obsessive-compulsive brain can accept/ listening to your new client’s incessant whingeing about your fees and who is incidentally an a&% -h&%# but you needed to take on this account in order to reach your target.

What’s my name? What’s my name?*

And just as you are ready to drop off to sleep while studying/ scream at your maid because she dropped your expensive (no, horrendously expensive) Ming vase while cleaning/ tear your hair (you really need to be using one of those shampoos that people, who pull cars and vans out of ditches with their hair, use) the name of your Main Character (MC)blinks on your nano radar (inside your mind) and if you are not prepared you could find yourself running like a headless chicken for a pen and paper to jot down the name before you forget it.

And then you will find these visions visiting you often and at awkward moments.

Scenes or vignettes involving your MC and other character actors will flash through your mind unpredictably and especially at very uncomfortable moments such as when after a gut-wrenching, mind-numbing day at college/ home/office, you are finally ready to rest your weary head (but of course, the rest of your body follows, I don’t think there’s anyone that puts their head to sleep before going to bed themselves, hehehe) on this cool white linen – covered pillow. The most obvious reaction of any non-writer person would be to turn their head and yawn and go to sleep.

Can a writer do that? No, never!  because if they did, they would have no answer to the question, “What shall I write?”

*best said in the tune of a latest bollywood item song.


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