NaNoWriMo Tip: Avoiding the Empty Page

Happy Friday, Wrimos!

As I mentioned last week, every Friday of the month, I’ll be giving you one of my favourite tips to get you through NaNoWriMo. Last week I urged you to write as much as you could at the start of NaNoWriMo when passion and excitement are at their highest. I’m sure by this point some of you might be feeling the pressure. The second week is one of the most challenging – you’ve barely started, and at the same time you realize just how hard it’s going to be to reach 50k and how much more you have left to write. It’s not easy.

While this might be a bit of an odd tip, it’s one I’ve used before to great success. I think it’s particularly effective if you’re the type to be intimidated by a ‘fresh page’.

I’ve never been good at starting things. I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I usually spend too long thinking about it when I should really just start writing.

The best way to combat this is to make sure you have something already started. You don’t want to jump into an empty page, because it’s that much harder to build some momentum.

That doesn’t mean you have to stop in the middle of a scene, as many writers advise. It is great advice, but personally, it makes me feel unsatisfied to leave a scene in the middle of writing it. Instead, I finish a scene and write the first line of the next one. Or the first line or paragraph of the next chapter. For my novel, The Wolves of the Far North, which I wrote for last year’s NaNoWriMo, I had opening lines for every chapter. It might have been a slice of dialogue or a brief description of the setting. Every chapter had already been ‘started’, so I never had to struggle with how to begin.

I never had to worry about an anxiety-inducing blank page.

If you’re a plotter, this might be really easy. You should already have an idea of what is going to happen. You might even have lines or bits of dialogue in the outline itself that you can pull and sprinkle through your chapters and scenes.

If you’re a pantser, it might be a little harder, but not impossible. If you have any ideas at all about what will happen later in the story, write it down. Keep a list, maybe at the bottom of your document or a separate file altogether of bits and pieces of possible scenes or dialogue for you to use later. Same principle, it’s just going to be a bit more of a process when you don’t go into it with an outline.

Of course, maybe by virtue of the fact that you don’t use an outline, you’re less intimidated by that empty page.

Either way, it’ll save you lots of time, especially as the month drags on and it gets harder and harder to churn out those words. The easier and faster you can jump into the scene and get writing, the better.

Happy Writing!

Author: Alyssa Flynn

Alyssa is a writer of fantasy and sci-fi, a certified geek, and a blogger over at Alyssa Lost in Space. She is currently writing her first novel which she plans to self-publish in Fall 2020.

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