Tips for NaNoWriMo: Margo Lanagan on planning
This month we’re offering up tips from our authors on tackling NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November every year. Following on from advice from Lili Wilkinson and Jack Heath, here’s some from one of our Faber Writing Academy tutors Margo Lanagan who recommends planning, and walking away:
Have things planned to the point where you know before you sit down what scene(s) you’re going to be writing today. Then sit and write fast, with the aim of getting to the juiciest part of the scene and enjoying writing that (so you’re always progressing towards more fun).
If the inner editor threatens, stick out your tongue at her and write on, faster to silence her pernickety voice. Immerse yourself as deeply in the telling as you can—lose yourself in your story instead of being conscious of the clock, conscious of how far short you’re falling of the great vision you had for the work. First draft, remember? You’re just pinning something to the page to remake and work with later.
When you’re finished for the day, do not read over what you’ve written, or what you wrote on any other day before. Get up, walk away, do the other things that need doing in your life. Start thinking about the next scene, the juiciest part of that, the treat waiting in store for you tomorrow.
Margo Lanagan has won four World Fantasy Awards for her short stories and for her novels Tender Morsels and Sea Hearts, with work shortlisted in the Hugo and Nebula awards and longlisted in the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and for the Carnegie Medal. Her most recent novels are the Zeroes trilogy, a YA superhero story written in collaboration with Scott Westerfeld & Deborah Biancotti, which landed on the NYT Bestsellers list.
NaNoWriMo is a great way to get a draft together very quickly but it’ll still need a great deal of work. And if you need a target for that work, and are under 35, why not set yourself the goal of submitting it for The Australian/Vogel’s Literary Award? Entries open early next year, and typically close at the end of May. Alternatively, our Friday Pitch accepts submissions every week.
If a month seems like too much commitment our Faber Writing Academy courses in Sydney and Melbourne could help – especially the one day Start to Write courses in Sydney or Melbourne.