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Camp NaNoWriMo Tips & Tricks: Part 1

TIPS FROM SUZANNE WDOWIK:

Tip #1: Writer’s Block and Characterization

When I get “writer’s block”, my first step is to take a deep breath and diagnose the problem, much like you would a coding error or an illness. Sometimes the cause of writer’s block is a lack of concrete characterization for your point-of-view character, as was the case with my own writing this week. Though I’m writing in third person, and though I created this character over a decade ago, I realized I did not truly “know” him.

Don’t be afraid to take a bit of time away from writing to develop your characters’ personalities. If the only thing you can think of to move your plot forward is to throw stuff at your character and have them passively react to things in a generic manner, then you might be suffering from this type of writer’s block. Try making a character music playlist, collecting songs that they might listen to or that describe the situations they find themselves in (unrequited love, a decision that is tearing them apart, reflection on fond memories of their childhood, etc). I spent a good portion of a day creating a playlist for my character, and through that I discovered that the character I once thought of as calm and emotionless actually has a destructive and intense personality that he is able to keep in check. This has informed my writing of him and I now see the motivations behind the actions he takes throughout the novel.

If that doesn’t work, or if music isn’t your thing, try another creative outlet. You can make an aesthetics mood board (like the ones found on Pinterest) to get a feeling for your character, or you can answer a personality quiz from the point of view of that character. Whatever you choose, it is never a waste of time to take a break from writing and focus on developing your character’s personality. They will thank you for it.

Tip #2: Writing Speed

Basically: if you think you’re writing too slowly, DON’T WORRY. Anything you write is still forward progress. Plus, the more you write, the faster you will get. I’ve only been writing for Camp for the past three days and I’m already getting much faster. Like anything, it just takes practice and perseverance.

TIPS FROM MAYRA PÉREZ GONZÁLEZ

Tip #3: Falling Behind

Don’t worry about falling behind. Life gets crazy. Stuff happens. And time or willingness to write slips between your fingers like water. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes we owe it to ourselves to take a moment, take a deep breath, and take one step back in order to propel yourself seven steps forward.

If you’re frustrated, don’t force it. It will be an uphill battle and your frustration might seep into your words through robotic tone, choppy sentences, or a careless plot. Throw your hands up in the air, wave them like you just don’t care, maybe go out or watch some Netflix. Your writing won’t go anywhere; it will still be there waiting for you.

Tip #4: Perfection is a Process

It took me a long time to realize that works of art become just that after continuous shaping and polishing. Don’t expect your writing to be absolutely perfect as soon as your ink touches the pages. Remember: it’s a work in progress. The beauty in writing is shaping the words between your hands until you’ve sculpted them into something breathtaking. Even paragraphs that you might not be proud of can turn out to be diamonds hidden in the rough.