Hey there folks! With NaNoWriMo in its tenth year, I decided to celebrate by finally participating as I’ve always told myself I would do. We’re nearing the end of week one, and I am sure there are many of you out there that are starting to feel the pressure. I know that I certainly am! I wanted to spend a few moments away from my word count and desperately trying not to edit to offer fellow participants out there my list of tips for getting through the month of November.
- Focus on the now.
Whether you are at word 1 or already nearing the end towards the 50,000 word goal, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is just to take it one word at a time. Don’t be overwhelmed and worried about what you’re going to write 10,000 words from now or 5 words from now. Keep focus on what is happening now in the story. It is easy to get distracted by what is going to happen, but just worry about what is going on now.
- Use an outline.
If number 1 is being really really difficult for you and you just can’t seem to get organized, take a break and write out an outline. Include what you have written, where you are, and where you want the story to go. Even if you had an outline at the beginning of the week, you may have to reevaluate it and make changes. Organizing and refocusing can make the task at hand much easier.
- Don’t be afraid of change.
Again, if you had an outline or notes at the beginning of the month, don’t be afraid to edit, revise or even throw them out. I’ve found myself going in a slightly different direction than I had originally planned and, you know what? It’s okay. I’m sure the first intents of many of your favorite books weren’t how they ended up on the bookshelves. Even the best authors have had to rethink ideas.
- Share your goal.
Let your friends and family know that you’re working on NaNoWriMo, and tell them how important it is to you and why you want to accomplish this goal. Usually we think that the people around us may be less than supporting, but in reality they can often be our best cheerleaders. They can’t support you if they don’t understand what you are doing and why.
- Take a break.
Are your eyes watery and losing focus? Are your hands cramping? Is your head hurting? Are you feeling frustrated? Take a break. There is absolutely no reason to kill yourself over this. Sometimes taking five minutes to step outside get some fresh air or going for a walk can make all the difference. If you’re suffering, so is your writing.
- Budget your time.
It’s recommended that from day one you try to do 1667 words a day. After week one, do you already feel stressed out that you’re falling behind? Don’t worry. Again, reorganize. Find out how many words you have left to write and divide that by how many days you have left. If it seems like an ungodly amount, take it a little at a time. If you try and write your whole novel in a weekend, it’s probably not going to be what you wanted it to be.
- Reward yourself.
Give yourself small rewards for meeting goals. If your goal is 1667 words a day or something else, if you reach that goal, go out and get an ice cream, take a break and play World of Warcraft, watch an episode of Doctor Who, or go out with your friends. Or if you need shorter goals during the day, make a goal to write 500 words and reward yourself with something small. The goals can be just as hefty or just as light as you want, but they truly do help.
- Keep it in perspective.
It’s easy to look at 50,000 words and feel completely overwhelmed. It could also feel like the end of the world and like there is no hope to make it to 50,000 words because you missed a day or two. Take a deep breath and realize that if you pace yourself and relax it will seem much more manageable. Remember, breathe in… out… you can do it.
- Don’t stop to edit.
If you’re an edit-o-holic like I am and find yourself absolutely jonesing to go back and edit, look back at number 8 and just breathe. I try to placate my need to edit do use Grammar and Spell Check. Take a moment and reread parts, but understand that you have all of the month of December and beyond to nit pick. If a section is really bothering you, see what quick fixes can be made but don’t dwell on it. Harder than it sounds I know. Remember, breath. You can do it.
- Talk to other participants.
The NaNoWriMo website has forums. If you’re feeling lost in a sea of words, give it a try. They probably have more tips than what are listed here. Others who have done NaNoWrimo in years past will often have sage advice on what to do if you feel you have a glaring plot hole, or are just having trouble getting to word 12500. Again, having a support system really can help you get through the tough moments.
I hope this has helped for all of you out there who might be participating. If you are participating, add me as a buddy (or if you’re not, you can keep track of my progress there as well) and we can cheer each other on! Keep writing and remember, breathe. You can do it!
I hope you keep writing for NaNoWriMo, woman with the same first and last name as my wife but who isn’t my wife! :)