Exercises, writing

The Great NaNo Kickoff

NaNoWriMo is officially here! I’m excited to dive in and start writing. One thing I’ve learned from previous years however, is that getting started can be the hardest thing to do, especially for the beginning scenes. That might be because you’re not sure what to put down to start, or because you’re not sure where your beginning scene is. My advice:

Forget about getting it ‘right’. It would be very unlikely that at the end of thirty days of writing you have a perfect draft. This does not have to be ‘right’ it just has to be written.

So, start with a reminder that it’s okay to be wrong. If you’re anything like I am, I know that seems like a horrifying thought, especially for the starting scene. It’s the most important scene in the book, it has to start the plot, intro the characters, build the setting—

Which, by the way, all of your scenes should be doing. They should be moving characters and plot, and solidifying setting. The only reason so much extra importance gets put on your starting scene is because that’s the one readers will see first. Here’s the thing: this only a draft. You are the only reader. You don’t have to impress yourself. You already know this is a good story, that’s why you’re writing it.

If you have to, put up a sticky note with some of your favorite quotes on first drafts from writers you admire. Or, write yourself a note. I set my computer background up as a reminder that the most important thing is getting the words down.

Another way you can help get yourself started is to try freewriting for five minutes, and build based off your freewrite. I’ve found this especially helpful as a pantser because in those five minutes of sheer writing, anything goes. Want a character to wear a clown costume for that five minutes? Stick them in a clown costume. Don’t have a name for the Important Plot Device, then call it the Important Plot Device. Five minutes will give you at least a couple of sentences, which is all you need to get started.

Finally, if you’re still not sure, then don’t worry about writing the ‘starting’ scene. Just write the scene you know the best. Writing doesn’t have to be linear. You can skip around. Write this scene, write the one near the end, come back to write the scene before the climax.

Regardless of what you do to start, even a few words is a step in the right direction. Here’s to hoping your month of writing goes well and you find the words easily. Happy NaNo!


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