The Elephant Technique or How Not To Break Your Momentum During NaNoWriMo And Beyond

danielle-writes:

So there's this thing, National Novel Writing Month, where a person writes a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. These people are referred to as crazy. I am one of them.

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And there's this guy, Chris Baty. Baty helped make NaNoWriMo a thing. He even wrote a book about it. A book about writing a book. It's meta. In this book he gave advice on just how to write a book in 30 days. Lots and lots of advice. Because writing is hard.

Really hard.

Really, REALLY hard.

But this guy, Baty? He's pretty smart about it. One of the things he talks about is to know your weakness as a writer. I have a bunch, but the main one is getting distracted by internetz.

See, the thing is, I try. I really do. I try to research all the things and stuff I need to research before I write, but sometimes I'll be going on my merry way and BOOM I forgot what I named that hospital. Or BOOM I don't know what the parts to a horse's saddle is. So I go to Google and Google tells me. But it never stops there. I always go, "While I'm here, I might as well check [insert your time-wasting social media site of choice]." And then, BOOM - an hour has passed and I haven't touched what I was writing.

This is no good. I need to focus and not break my momentum while I'm writing. Stopping to open a browser and searching on Google breaks my momentum. So what do I do? Research even more? As much as I'd like to think I can predict everything that happens in my plot, some things I just can't foresee. And that's a good thing! No, it's great! That's one of the best things about writing, when I'm surprised when X, Y, or Z happens. 

Instead of extensive, mind-numbing research, I do this. Whenever I find myself stalling to think of a name or an adjective or literally anything else, I write elephant instead. Elephant. And then go on my merry way.

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It felt really stupid when I started. The worse is when I read what I've written and forgot that I slapped on an elephant in the middle of an intense scene.

But it works!

I promise, I wouldn't do it if it didn't.

And when I edit, all I do is find each "elephant" with the search option of whatever word-processor I'm using and insert it's rightful word - the well-researched-after-I've-written-the-book word. I've told a few people about my Elephant Technique, and I knew a few people who use different words: cantaloupe, poodle, febreze. It all works. 

BOOM, distraction gone. 

#sorry i took out like 10 gifs of people typing cause i can't handle that shit #but really good advice #i def let research of details distract me instead of focusing on big picture stuff and just doing it #writing