NaNoWriMo is a marathon of a writing experience. And I don't know about you, but I am not the marathon runner type. If I would get up tomorrow morning, put on my tennis shoes, and join in on a marathon around the city, (having never run more than a mile in one session) then I would be in some sort of painful, trip to the emergency room, oh crap oh crap oh crap, kind of trouble. Don't make the same mistake when it comes to your novel!
Though you can't begin writing your novel quite yet, free writing is a great way to brainstorm and get ready for those intense word count sprints. (If you're not familiar with free writing, it's writing continuously for a certain amount of time, even if what you write ends up going nowhere. Your pen is not allowed to stop, no going back to fix errors, just write until your timer goes off and see what happens!) If you've been like me and life has caused you to take a forced hiatus from your writing, then a free writing warm-up is not a bad way to get back in the groove.
Start off easy and free write for five minutes. Then maybe the next day up your time to seven minutes. And the day after that maybe try going for ten. You get the idea. The point is to put yourself in the best position to start off strong out of the gates when November hits. And nothing does that better than actually doing some writing. And most importantly, doing it every day.
I believe that it is important to keep your free writing time relaxed and not to stress over it. Even if what you end up writing has nothing to do with your novel, it is still getting you in shape and who knows, maybe something else will come out of it. I once had a cool poem come out of a free write. You just never know what gems you will uncover when you let your mind and your pen wander. If what you end up writing does have to do with your novel, then great! You have more material to draw from when November comes.
Need some prompts to get started? Check out the list below. Remember, these are loose prompts. Adjust them as needed and let yourself explore.
- Describe the physical appearance of a character as fully and as creatively as you can
- What happens on eerie moonlit nights?
- Describe a setting and try to avoid using clichés
- Pick a "truth" about our world. What would happen if the opposite was true? (Ex: What if we didn't need to breathe air? What if there were no tides or stars? What if Earth didn't have gravity?)
Music has inspired some interesting and fruitful free writes for me in the past. Try out different kinds of music (I've included some below) and see what you come up with. If you want a lot more options, check out my blog: Inspirational Writing Music)
- Rachel Currea (calming) - I Found You, You Found Me
- Helen Jane Long (calming) - The Aviators
- Blackmill (upbeat) - Lucid Truth
- Ronald Jeenkes (upbeat) - Stay Crunchy
And of course, just a quiet moment alone with your pen or your computer is another great way to focus on free writing. Happy training!