Thursday, November 12, 2015

NaNoWriMo November: Chele Cooke

I'm always to have author Chele Cooke as a guest on my blog. She's a fabulous writer and her tips today are helpful as always. Chele is a serious NaNo pro (and maybe a bit of a masochist - doing NaNo for ten years!). I hope you are inspired by her "5 Tips for 50k". And don't forget to enter the Mega Book Giveaway at the end of the post. You may just win one of Chele's great books :-)

5 Tips for 50k

by Chele Cooke

It’s scary to think that this year, I’m attempting to complete my tenth year doing NaNoWriMo. I first tried it in University and failed spectacularly. In fact, I failed for five years in a row. Every time I got to around the 17k mark, my inspiration dropped out.

The first time I succeeded was in 2011, and I’ve succeeded in hitting that magical 50k mark every year since. So, this year is a big one for me. Can I hit five in a row? The last three years, I’ve written the first 50,000 words of the latest book in my Out of Orbit series. Each book in that series has now been published and this November is time to work on the concluding instalment.

It’s difficult… really difficult. Anyone who tells you churning out 50,000 words is easy because they don’t have to be edited, is either extremely lucky or has never tried to do it in 30 days.

So I’m still going to give you my top five tips got to 50k and hit that big, shiny ‘WINNER’ button.

1.     Aim High
While NaNoWriMo says you need to write 1,667 words per day in order to reach that 50k goal, I always suggest that whenever possible, aim above that. If you’re on a roll, keep writing. Having a buffer will help when you’re struggling, or if you have a day when you can’t write. Personally, I always aim for 2,500 words for the first seven days, giving me a 5,831 word buffer by the end of day 7.

2.     Split the Workload
If you find yourself with a day that you can’t write, don’t assume you have to double up the next day. Split the extra words over a few days so that you don’t buckle under overwhelming pressure. Maybe even schedule a few days off to recuperate and let your brain quietly work out the blocks in the background.

3.     Planning and Plotting
I’m not going to get into the Planning vs Pantsing debate, but if you like to plan your writing, do so to the best of your ability. I’ll usually have 10,000 words of plotting in bullet points before I start the first draft. Even if you’re finding now that you would work better with a plan, take a day or two to set out the next half-dozen chapters. Remember that your brain is already working very hard in coming up with this prose. Give it a break by not needing to figure out what comes next.

4.     The Use of Placeholders
If you’re writing a genre which requires the creation of words, places, etc, try using a placeholder to keep yourself from stopping. This also works if you need to research, or if you haven’t decided on a character name. Set yourself up a word document or excel spreadsheet and keep that information listed so you’ll use the same placeholder every time.

CHARF1 – Female Character, chapter 2
PERCNT – Percentage population killed by virus in 1st Week.

Using this method, you can let your brain mull over these things in the background without slowing you down, and you can use the Find and Replace function to later change them over.
Side Note: If using this method, I suggest not using real words as placeholders, as you may use that word somewhere else. Miss out vowels, or combine elements of words, and keep them on your list.

5.     Work the Way that Works for YOU!
Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you have to work chronologically, or that you must turn off your inner editor, yadda yadda yadda. If you want to skip around, do it! If you have to go back and edit that paragraph because it affects the rest of the plot, do it! Whether you can only write at 6am, or you best plot whilst standing on your head, do what works for you!
You won’t have a finished novel at the end of NaNoWriMo. You’ll be really far ahead if you’ve finished a draft. All the other kinks can be worked out later on! Just focus on keeping yourself going, and on enjoying yourself!

This is a challenge, but it’s not a competition. Someone else winning does not mean you lose, and even if you don’t hit that 50k, you’ve still done incredibly well. Whatever comes of this November, everyone taking part should feel proud that they attempted it. Whatever you wrote, you had more than when you started and that’s an accomplishment!

And if you need a little ass-kicking, find a local write-in. I’ve found the people taking part to be a lovely bunch, and meeting up can be really motivational.

Best of luck, and if you have any tips for completing NaNoWriMo that I’ve not mentioned, share them below.

Chele Cooke, Author

Part time author and full time fantacist, Chele Cooke is a sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal author living in London, UK.

While some know they want to write stories since childhood, Chele first started writing as a teenager writing fanfiction and roleplaying. Before long playing in other people's worlds wasn't enough and she started creating her own. Living in San Francisco at the time, she found a lot of inspiration in her favourite city, some of which can be found in her books.

With a degree in Creative Writing, Chele's first novel, Dead and Buryd, was published in 2013, which is currently free to download from all the major eBook retailers.

You can connect with Chele here:


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