In a few days, it will be time for NaNoWriMo, and we’re sure many Cylix users will be taking up the challenge to write 50,000 words. So it’s necessary to acknowledge the world’s most significant writing event on our blog. Let us look at some ways in which writers could organize their novel (or work of non-fiction, or any other piece of writing) using Cylix and steadily walk towards their goal at the end of what is usually an exciting and nerve-wracking month.
What is NaNoWriMo?
For those who aren’t aware, November is National Novel Writing Month, and the goal for participants is to write a 50,000-word story by midnight of November 30th. It is entirely up to the writer how they want to split up the number of words into their month’s schedule. Some people try to stick to daily deadlines. Some days you may be able to meet these daily goals, but when real life comes around and makes you miss your target for one day, you can always recover the next day. Weekends are great to marathon towards the goal.
The purpose of the program is to get those 50,000 words down, and not to self-edit. If you have a novel on the back burner that you’ve just not been able to get yourself to write yet, November may be a good time to do so. But it’s not only new writers who participate in NaNoWriMo. You could get your book of non-fiction well on its way, carried forward by the momentum of the challenge. Poets and short story writers or anyone who has a piece of writing they’d like to work on will find NaNoWriMo is a great way to get it done. There will be time for editing after the month is over.
Your goal doesn’t even have to be 50,000 words. It could be more or less, but the objective is to meet it, which is not always easy when you’re working a job or going to school. There are pep talks from NaNoWriMo staff to help you make the most of your time. Participants organize meetups for writing, to motivate each other. There are also several productivity tools and tips that will come in handy for your NaNoWriMo challenge this year.
Schedule Your Writing Time
If you can schedule your time well, and try to stick to it with discipline, you’ll know exactly how much you need to write to meet your final challenge goal. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike before beginning to write. It is best to schedule your time for NaNoWriMo just as you would schedule an appointment, and stick to it. You need to set yourself a start time and a finish time. Find out how much output you can produce in an hour by timing yourself. The little exercise will help you better schedule your time for NaNoWriMo.
It’s also advisable that you keep your creative writing time towards the start of the day. Many writers find early in the morning is the best time to write, rather than the end of the day when you’re tired from a full day of juggling real life and writing. The same rule that applies to workplace productivity applies here. The first thing many people do when they get to work – and this is not what they should be doing – is to check their email and their social media. This ritual puts people in a reactive rather than proactive mode, according to some experts. If you can turn off your phone and email when you’re writing, you’ll find an added boost to your productivity.
Don’t Use MS Word
Many people make the mistake of writing on a word processor that is easily accessible. But 10,000 words and three chapters into your novel you’ll realize that it’s not easy to keep track of your work on MS Word. If you’ve separated your work into sections, you’ll have to scroll down tons of pages to find a specific chapter you want. On Cylix, you can easily organize your chapters on different documents of a project. You can give a name to each section, and quickly find an episode you’re looking for from the tree view, just like you would in the index of a book. It’s easy to move things around between chapters or pages when the files are smaller and organized, unlike in MS Word.
Organize your Novel on a Spreadsheet
There are many proponents of spreadsheet plotting in the writing world, and it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re writing a film script, a thriller or an autobiography, you can separate the different elements or threads or your work by charting them out on a spreadsheet. Cylix now supports Spreadsheets on Windows, for now, with MacOS and Linux versions coming soon, and it’s a belter. For example, a typical chart for a novel with an intricate plot can have columns for Scene, Focus Character, Other Characters, Location, Plot/Action, Subplots, etc. You can add other columns for Time of day, Setting, Pulse and the number of words. Pulse is the emotional tension that drives a scene.
You’ll find many templates online to use for the occasion of NaNoWriMo and otherwise. The new spreadsheet editor in Cylix will let you plot your novels with ease, and you can quickly switch to the text editor when you’re ready to write a scene or a chapter. When it comes to fiction-writing, this method is probably not for everyone, but for those who like to write from a plot. The beauty of the spreadsheet for organizing your novel is that you can sort it when you want.
For instance, if you want to see how many times you’ve used a particular character in your work, or find your longest chapter, you can sort the entries accordingly. A spreadsheet is excellent for getting an overview of your story. Typing in the scenes on a chart will save you hours of going through the pages of your novel trying to figure out your next decision. Some famous writers who would have been thrilled to have access to a spreadsheet for their stories are Joseph Heller, who drew a large chart for no-win situations in Catch 22, and J.K. Rowling, who built a map for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Create a Visual Chain
Visualize your goal or tasks for the day. You could hang a calendar over your writing desk and cross or circle off each day as you reach your goal. It will help you stay motivated because soon the chain of circles or X’s will seem a shame to break. To reach 50,000 in thirty days, you’ll need to write at least 1666 words each day. Quality is not all-important at this time. Marking off the Xs will make you focus more on the process of writing, which is what NaNoWriMo is about.
There are plenty of writers and past Wrimos who have advice for managing your time better and keeping yourself motivated while you meet the thirty-day challenge. These productivity tips will apply not just to NaNoWriMo, but to any writing task that is difficult to start. You’ll find the discipline that comes out of this exercise useful in many other situations.