NaNoWriMo Week One is nearly complete. You might be behind (like me), on track (as I have been in the past), or zooming ahead (as I often have been in the past). No matter where you are in the fleet, your goal is the same: to get as many words in as quick a time as possible. Now, you could order robotic hands that type faster than you can think— those are sometimes fun. You could grab another person and have them type at the same time, theoretically doubling your output (but producing two separate novels). Or, you could participate in a word war.
Word war, word sprint, word fiesta— they’re all the same thing. You and anyone else participating make a pact, a pact to rid the world of procrastination, and fight to the death the war of words. Or party the heck out of it, if you’re doing a word fiesta. Your choice, bro.
Write as many words as you can in fifteen minutes. Try not to stop until the time is up. Force your brain to work overtime as your fingers speed over the keys, thinking barely faster than you can type. You might not know what the next sentence will be, but you’ll run with it. This is the essence of a word sprint.
Compete against others. Compete against yourself. Set records for how many words you can write in fifteen minutes. Discover your word-per-minute rate and try to make it faster. Compare your final count with others and feel that sense of pride that comes with winning, or the sense of despair and desolation that comes with second place. Decide to do better. Take a break, and start again. This is the essence of a word war.
Write crazy plot twists and strange dialogue, because you can’t think of anything else to do! Often, these spur-of-the-moment ideas and terrible thoughts bring about big changes to your story. The plot twist nobody expected— it’s more of a surprise if you never expected it either. Waltz through the story with a blindfold on, stepping in unimaginable kinds of goop and splattering it onto the page. This is the essence of a word fiesta.
No matter which type of activity you choose, they all have the same basis: write as much as you can in fifteen minutes. Where do you find companions with which to sprint, battle, or party? That’s the easy part. You can battle while someone else parties. You can party while they sprint. All it takes is someone to say Go and Stop, and a place to communicate in real-time.
Ta-da, the word war chatroom, which has existed since basically forever. We started it three years ago for just this purpose. Since then, it’s gone through some changes and seen some people come and go, but its purpose is the same. Come in and write in company.
The Writing Room: http://us23.chatzy.com/49973207014728
I assume if you’ve read this far you’re looking to write. If you have no intention of writing, please don’t click on the link above. If you do in fact wish to write, and the people in there are just chatting with no idea of any word war schedule, speak up and propose something. All we ask is that you remain polite to those around you, the same as if you were commenting on one of my posts.
Some tips for sprints, wars, and fiestas (results may vary):
Pick some music. Some music makes people think faster, some makes them think slower. As long as your fingers can keep up, the only thing that will limit your word war success is your brain. I type really fast, so as long as I can think quickly, my fingers can keep up. When I started writing with the right music, around the same time I started doing word wars, my wordcounts went from about 500 words in fifteen minutes to over a thousand. When you only have to write fifty thousand words, that’s only fifty word wars. Voila.
Block out distractions. Things that decrease productivity: TVs, conversations, TV conversations, conversations with TVs. This is one good case for music— it helps block out surrounding noise. If you can, find a place you can write in peace and comfort. Sometimes writing while hungry is good, but some find their characters thinking about food.
Keep track. During these original word war days, I kept a spreadsheet wherein I kept track of scores, words per minute, and total wordcount. This helped me see what was most distracting to me and what kind of music helped me the most. I often found I’d write better after experiencing a different story, such as a TV show or a book. It’s an experiment in self-discovery, if nothing else. Figure out what works best for you.
Cultivate creative energy. Funny thing I’ve found about being creative: there’s no limit. Sure, you can write ’til you can’t write no more, and you could say that’s your limit. Except it’s not. You exhausted all your literary creative energy, your ability to manipulate words. Perhaps you’ll be really bad at writing emails later, but does that mean all your creative energy is gone? Nope. There are as many kinds of creative energy as there are kinds of creative outlets. When you find yourself running out of one type, refresh it by expending a different type. Draw something, make music, or arrange some flowers. A better maxim to head this paragraph might be
Use breaks wisely. Just because you’re writing a thousand words per fifteen minutes doesn’t mean you’ll write 1333 words in twenty minutes, or that you’ll write 2000 in thirty minutes. Doubling the time doesn’t double the wordcount. Stick with the short and sweet time limits, and use the breaks you’re given. Usually we like fifteen minute breaks between fifteen minute sprints. Use that time to take care of yourself, recharge creatively (create something else or experience a different story for a little while), or get some quick exercise. You’re sprinting— you have to take some time to breathe eventually.
Finally, have fun. The worst thing that can happen as you’re word warring is to actually look at it like a war. You get that glazed, tired look in your eyes, the numbness in the fingers, the incoherent mumbling— just one more word if it kills you. That’s not going to work. NaNoWriMo is for you, first and foremost. If word wars are getting you stressed, change them to word fiestas. Figure out how to have fun with it. If you decide word wars aren’t for you, you can always be timekeeper for someone else’s word wars, and write away during both battles and breaks. This, in fact, leads into the final point:
Disclaimer: Word wars are not for everyone. Quantity rules over quality, and if you’d really like to write a pretty first draft for once, word wars might not be for you. Participants have experienced stress, sleep deprivation, and antisocial behavior during this time. If these happen in excess, stop participating and take care of yourself. Ask your doctor if word wars are right for you.
Sprint, battle, party. Whatever floats your boat. Use the link above. The password is in white a paragraph beneath the link. Have fun!