As I’ve stated in my website and bio’s, I’ve participated in the National Novel Writing Month for four years now. Any chance I get, I recommend this program to others. Why? Because, I believe it challenges the writer to do what I call “free writing”. The official challenge of this program is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Each year during the month of November, writers from around the world participate. They are very supportive in their forums as well as local support groups. They encourage the participants to just write or type without fear of criticism, without editing, without worrying about someone reading their story. I love it.
When I did my first year, I had to fight the urge to stop and edit as I went along. I also found that when I had a momentary mind dump on a word, I’d sit and stare at my computer screen, wasting valuable minutes trying to come up with the word I was looking for to fit my current sentence. It was frustrating, to say the least. Each minute I sat staring was less words I was typing. Or worse, I’d get up and move away from the computer to get a book to find the word I wanted…or “gasp”, close my manuscript to get on the internet and do a thesaurus search. Well, by then I’m sure you can guess…the writing was over. That internet is addictive!
How could I break this vicious cycle? Then it hit me: I used brackets around an idea…or if I couldn’t think of it, I’d use brackets around something as simple as [insert idea here]. This technique allowed me to continue typing and not break my rhythm in the story. When I completed my manuscript, I simply did a search for the brackets and revised accordingly.
My best friend and fellow writer, now a published author, used a triple x: XXX to mark her momentary stops.
Recently, a fellow Georgia Romance Writer noted on her facebook page that she uses a key word she made up and would never, ever use in her stories. Then, when done with her manuscript, she’d do a search for that word.
I am an advocate for using this method. It’s a time saver, stress reliever and, most important of all, it allows me to continue to write. I know I’m not the first to use this method…nor do I own this idea. I’m sure other writers have thought of it and used it often. Some may even be embarrassed to say what word and/or symbol they use.
I dare you to share. If you use this method, what is your “marker”?
Also, if you'd like more information on NaNoWriMo, visit their site: http://nanowrimo.org