Camp NaNo Prep: Day 4

Whoops, skipped a day. Got a little busy. Oh well, I only have two more of these posts planned anyway.

XIII. Just Write

I know this seems like simple advice, but it’s something a lot of people need to hear. It doesn’t matter if you have an idea or not of what you want to write that day, just sit down and put words on paper. You may start off spouting off nonsense, but after a little bit, you’ll likely get into the swing of it and actually find yourself advancing the story.

I do this a lot, and I find that I tend to surprise myself with how much I actually had in mind for the story.

XIV. Don’t Be Afraid to Steal

All art is derivative. So if you’ve ever found yourself thinking of a story idea, or a song idea, or anything like that, and you’ve said to yourself, “Oh, but that sounds like this other thing,” then just roll with it anyway. Take any themes, characters, settings, etc. that you like from any of your favorite works. Don’t just copy the entire story, of course, but don’t limit yourself just because your work isn’t entirely original.

XV. Employ the Art of BS

Now, this takes a little bit of finesse. Strictly speaking, this is just a practice of freewriting. When you start writing, don’t stop. Don’t stop to think, or look up a word, or read back in your story to check for continuity issues. Just BS it. Keep saying things, don’t look back, and keep pushing forward. Like I said in a previous entry, all those mistakes you made can be fixed in the editing process.

A good way to practice freewriting is with a program called Write or Die. With this program, you plug in how many words you want to write in how many minutes, and check a few options, and start writing. There’s a built in grace period before you start getting negative effects from the program, and it even has a mode where it will start erasing what you’ve written if you dawdle for too long.

XVI. Drinking Game: Every Time You Get Stuck, Take a Shot

Please note that I do not encourage underage drinking. Comply with your local drinking age and don’t shout “David Shank told me to do it!” if you get in trouble.

I like to drink when I write. I call it liquid inspiration. The thing about alcohol is that it has an uninhibiting quality which is actually quite conducive to the creative process. YouTuber and NaNoWriMo’er OpenEllbey explains it best in her video analyzing the Hemingway quote “Write Drunk, Edit Sober.” She explains that both chaos and restraint are necessary in the creative process. I can’t really do this principle justice next to her, so watch her video.

Also, here’s a more scientific take on this. This infographic compares what beer and coffee do to your brain. Basically, beer = good for creating; coffee = good for getting it done/editing.

There’s definitely a limit to this, though. If you can’t read the screen, you’ve had too much. Also, for those of you who can’t (or won’t) drink, you can still apply this idea without mind alterations. You just have to actively not suppress your stranger ideas. Like OpenEllbey points out in her video, the brain has a tendency to tell us not to say something. Ignore that part of your brain.

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