There’s only one full week left of October, which means NaNoWriMo is almost here! (As most of you know, National Novel Writing Month is an annual event in which writers attempt to write 50,000 words during the month of November.) Earlier this month, I shared my tips for brainstorming ideas and plotting your novel. Now that NaNoWriMo is almost upon us, here are my final tips for NaNoWriMo success:
- Mentally prepare yourself
It’s important to be prepared for the mentally strenuous task ahead of you. In order to reach 50,000 words in one month, you’ll need to write 1,667 words a day. There may be some days when the words come easily, and you more than surpass your goal… but there may also be days when the writing is tough, and even getting a single word down is difficult. There will be days when life gets in the way and you won’t have time to write. And there will be days when your manuscript seems like such a disaster that continuing will seem pointless. It’s important to prepare yourself for this, and remember that the point of NaNoWriMo isn’t to emerge with a perfectly polished novel at the end of the month. Focus on make writing a priority for the month, on writing more than you usually would, and writing the bare bones of a draft that can always be revised later. Don’t be discouraged when you miss a day. Don’t be discouraged when the writing gets tough, or when your draft doesn’t meet your expectations.
- Set a schedule
My most successful NaNo years were those in which I had a set schedule for writing. I calculated how much time it would take me to write 1,667 words, and then I scheduled that amount of time into each day so that writing became both a priority and a routine. There are days when that routine is interrupted—the week of Thanksgiving is always hard for me—but for the most part, I tried not to let anything disrupt my scheduled writing time. Even if you aren’t able to write every day, consider whether you can set a schedule that works for you.
- Connect with fellow NaNo writers
In my experience, one of the most important factors in getting through NaNoWriMo is having support from other writers who are attempting the same thing. You can connect with others via the forums on the NaNo website, or you can try using hashtags like #NaNoWriMo on social media to find fellow writers there. Having a community to offer support will be invaluable during the hard stretches.
- Tell your family and friends what you’re doing
You’ll probably need to be more withdrawn or less social in November, and it’s helpful to let your family and friends know in advance what you’re doing and why it’s important to you. It’s crucial that the people around you respect your writing time as much as you do during this process. Letting your friends and family know in advance will make it easier.
- Use distraction-free tools
If you’re having trouble focusing on your MS, or if the Internet is a constant distraction, consider using tools like Freedom or Write or Die to eliminate those distractions. Freedom will disable your internet connection for a specific period of time, and Write or Die will actually delete your progress if you don’t reach the target number of words within a certain timeframe. There are also several other distraction-free tools worth looking into to see if they work for you.
No matter how well you do during NaNo—whether you reach 50,000 words or not—remember to celebrate your achievements at the end. If you write more during this month than you would have otherwise, that’s something to celebrate. Whether you emerge with 50,000 words or 500, be proud of the progress you’ve made. You’re writing a book, and that’s always worth celebrating.
Are you going to participate in NaNoWriMo? Have you participated before? How do you prepare? Have any tips I missed? Let me know in the comments!
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