“There’s an element of networking and luck, but there’s also just an element of you being completely prepared.”
– Austin Tindle
To follow up on last year’s countdown, here are 15 tips to keep in mind if you’re planning on tackling National Novel-Writing Month this year! 50,000 words in 30 days will be that much easier with a little prep…
15. Planner or Pantser? This year, NaNoWriMo is offering self-selected badges. Do you outline every step of the way or fly by the seat of your pants? Embrace your creative process.
14. Block off writing time and commit to it. It may be thirty minutes every morning when you wake up, and it may be an hour in the morning Tuesday and twenty minutes before bed Wednesday, but when it’s time to write, it’s time to write.
13. Take advantage of NaNo write-ins! Around the world, local libraries and bookstores are hosting events where writers can come and work in a productive environment. Check the official website for more information about meetings local to you.
12. The forums are great, too. Check out pep talks, tips, and tricks from fellow NaNos, brainstorm, and maybe even pitch your upcoming novel.
11. The goal is 50,000 words in a month, which gives you thirty days to coordinate. Maybe you write daily, in which case, your target is an average of 1667 words per day. Maybe Saturday is Writing Day, in which case your weekly goal is 11,669. You don’t have to hit a certain word count every day; 4000 words one day and 100 the next is still 4100 words! Having an idea of the daily goals does give you a good idea of where you should be at certain points, though.
10. Gather your writing friends! Whether you’re part of a writing group or not, enlist your pals. A team of writers will motivate one another to keep going and hold you accountable. Schedule your own write-ins together over brunch, or set up an e-mail chain or hashtag to report progress. Talk each other through hard-to-write scenes. Plus, starting December 1st, you can all swap manuscripts and edit, too!
9. Let your friends and family know you’re competing, so if you text “I CAN’T DO IT,” they will text back, “YES YOU CAN.” Just because your loved ones aren’t competing doesn’t mean they don’t understand what a huge commitment it is to you.
8. Have writing tools at the ready. Inspiration can strike at any moment, especially when you’re beasting through your manuscript the way NaNos do. Keep a notebook and pen, tablet, laptop, or, heck, your phone, on hand at all times!
7. Think about your writing environment. Do you like writing first thing in the morning? Last thing before you go to bed? At a desk? At the kitchen table? At the library? In a coffee shop? Alone? With music? There are tons of other questions I could follow up with, but basically: how do you like to write? Create your ideal atmosphere for writing.
6. Take breaks. If you’re on a roll, don’t let me stop you! If you’re moving along steadily and getting tired, or forcing yourself to hit a certain word count when your brain just isn’t where it needs to be, don’t be afraid to hit the pause button. Step away from the screen, go for a walk, have something to eat and/or drink. Take a nap. Your work will be much easier on a rested and alert brain!
5. Make a list of goals. Whether it’s a checklist, a bunch of sticky notes, or scribbles on your calendar, give yourself physical markers. If you put up sticky notes over your desk with word count goals, tearing down each one you reach will give you a rush of satisfaction. Writing down a list of chapters and crossing out every one you finish likewise. Whatever physically and visually shows you that you are making progress, run with it.
4. Think about your goals for competing, too. Are you hoping to be published? To self-publish? To have fun and maybe hit 50K? Choose a goal and write that down, too. Once it’s in writing, you’ll be motivated to achieve it!
3. Treat yo self. Before NaNo starts on November 1st, indulge in writerly treats: new pens, a classy journal, your favorite tea or coffee and a snazzy mug from which to drink them. I’m not saying go crazy and spend a ton of money, but NaNoWriMo is a high-pressure event, so make it comfortable. You should always feel special when you write, but especially when you’re racing towards a completed manuscript in a month. Every time you sit down to write your future bestseller, you should feel like a cashmere-velvet candy cane. Or Batman.
2. Relax. If you make it to 50,000 words, you are a champ. If you don’t, you are still a champ. Writing is hard work, and writing a whole book in one month is even harder. Go you for competing!
1. Get ready to be awesome, have fun, and go on a writing adventure!
Yes, yes, my first and second rules are exactly the same as last year’s, but they are the most important! NaNoWriMo is a fun challenge for writers. A little pressure may light a fire under us and get us finally to write the books we keep talking about, but too much pressure is no good. Enjoy yourselves, and good luck making it to 50,000 words!