Like thousands of other writers across the globe, I did a BICHOK (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keys) for 30 days.
Instead of being a complete pantser (writing by the seat of my pantalones), as I have in the past, I did a half and half of pantser and plotter. Like having one leg into my jeans.
The plotter part consisted of character exploration by journaling, creation of a Pinterest storyboard, and created a logline and premise for the story.
After 30 days, I have a story in a first draft mess which finishes around the 3/4 point. Which means I’ll need 15,000-20,000 more words to complete this New Adult story.
What helped me to write faster was what I learned in a free online workshop from the University of Iowa’s How Writer’s Write Fiction Course. This is a combination of video, reading, and quizzes, which you can take for credit or no credit.
If you take the course for credit there are writing assignments and peer reviews. A certificate of completion is available for $50 if you meet all the requirements. The course is well worth your time.
An exercise I found helpful to start my NaNo writing was to ask my characters questions and write the answers out in longhand in my journal:
1-Who am I?
2- Who do I love? Who or what do I hate?
3-What do I want the most?
4-Who or what do I fear?
My story has three generations of Mexican American women so I needed to explore all of them through these questions.
There are hundreds of character sketch templates available, but I found that these questions opened my mind up to think about emotional issues, not just physical characteristics.
I used most of the answers in the character exploration to type onto my first pages. (Yes, I counted the words for NaNo). This was helpful so I could re-read what I wrote and stay in character.
The other motivator I used, for the first time, was music. Since the main character has just gone through a broken engagement at 22 years old (many moons past for me) I listened to music from Lana Del Rey and Adele.
One of the locations in the novel is Oaxaca, Mexico where the main character visits a curandera (traditional Mexican healer). I selected some indigenous music to help me when I wrote scenes about walking the pyramids of Monte Albán and listened to music by Lila Downs for cafe scenes.
I wish I had printed out my Pinterest storyboard since I found myself going back to the photos every time I sat down to write (distracting and time-consuming). The colors, people, foods, and objects helped to center me as I wrote.
For NaNoWriMo 2015, as for any of my next novels, preparation is the key: premise, concept, logline for the story. Explore the characters through journaling. Listen to music for help to create the setting. Create a storyboard of interesting colorful photos to stimulate the eye. And find a consistent time to BICHOK.
Share your writing tips. So how did you NaNo this year?
8 thoughts on “Butt in Chair, Hands on Keys for 30 Days of #NaNoWriMo”
“…Listen to music for help to create the setting…”
This is a daily inspiration for me, Mona. The music. Oldies Rollas going back to the early 50’s. But you are on your way with your novel. I like the take of your title, “Love Potion #99.” I’m assuming, as you know I often do, that the title is a play on “Love Potion #9”, the Oldie song from the late 50’s by the Coasters.
The questions are a good idea to get to know our characters and story. Hope to to see your novel in shop windows and on Amazon. Tommy
You’re right, it’s from Love Potion #9. That’s just the working title of this story, but listening to the song did give me inspiration. I do have a story idea in the works, with a 40’s through 60’s timeline. I’ll bring out the old Everly Brothers, Ray Charles, and Righteous Brothers albums my mom had as well as my old CD collection of Lowrider Oldies 🎼. It’s always a delight to hear from you!
I’m blushing, Mona. You patted me on the head.
Bravo, Mona! Thank you for sharing the ways you kept focused on your novel. I especially appreciate the Pinterest tips. I try to stay away from too many social network thingies, but…
One of my struggles this last month has been to stay focus on the novel i am currently writing. I was aware than visuals would help me. I didn’t want to buy magazines but I didn’t consider Pinterest. I will!
Also the class you are mentionning sounds interesting. Is it specifically for adult writing or would for YA as well?
I also love the premise of your new work. One of my future projects involes three generations of French and French-American women. So I find it interesting to read about yours !!!
Best to you, as always.
Pinterest is fun for creating your own storyboard. The writing class is for fiction writers without focus on any specific genre.
I checked the class but it seed that it’s gone. 😥
I’ll find out more.
Hopefully, it begins again next month. I’ll keep an eye out.
Oh it would be terrific! Thank you for the info, Mona.