NaNoWriMo is tough.
50,000 words ain’t nothing, and getting there by the end of the month is a heck of an accomplishment.
Unless you are lucky enough to engage in NaNoWriMo full time, it might be a bit of a strain to cram all of that writing in on top of your real life. You know, all that stuff you do every day to keep the lights on?
Besides, writing is hard enough as it is.
Here are some tips to make it go a little smoother.
1.) Quantity Over Quality
NaNoWriMo is not the time to worry about the quality of what you’re writing. It is the time to write – in the immortal words of Anne Lamotte – a shitty first draft.
There will be a time for the quality part later.
When you’re writing at the torrid pace of 1,667 words per day, you will get bogged down if you pause to go back and edit the prior day’s work. Not only that, but you’ll lose valuable words towards your count as you delete swaths of mediocre writing.
The important thing is to put words on the screen/page and tell your story. You can work your way through the carnage later.
2.) Be Amenable to Change
You’ve written 25,000 words, and you come up with a brilliant idea that would lead your story to the perfect ending.
The only problem is that it doesn’t work with about 15,000 of the words you’ve already written.
In fact, most of it would have to be deleted.
Keep writing. Just pick up from your moment of inspiration and go.
Creative inspiration beautiful. Do not abandon it on the occasion that it strikes.
NaNoWriMo is the time to let the story take you where it will. If the 50,000 word product has a massive plot shift halfway through, that’s okay. Writing is re-writing, and you can fix it later.
The truth is you only came upon that creative inspiration because of the 25,000 words you wrote getting there.
Some people love to go into NaNoWriMo cold, with nothing more than an idea. They love to let the story take them where it will.
That can be a lot of fun
The problem arises, however, if you eventually find you don’t know what to write next. That can easily become a reason not to write.
The voices in your head will come up with many reasons to avoid writing throughout November. The dog, the kids, fatigue, the story sucking, and everything else.
You don’t want to give those voices ammunition, and not knowing what to write is one of the strongest pieces of ammunition there is.
If you could see yourself falling into that trap, then you might want to put in some quality planning time before the start of November. If it’s too late for that, then just take a few moments to plan things out next time you find yourself with spare time.
4.) Write Every Day
I’ve written before about how I turned my writing life around. The key to it all was that I made myself write every day.
With the frenetic pace, NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to beat that habit into yourself.
Some people are really good at taking the time that life gives them, and they don’t get bogged down when they fall behind. They have the discipline to log 400 words one day, 900 another, and come back strong to catch up with 3,700 on the third.
And that’s fine.
But it’s not what I’d recommend.
Write every day.
Even slipping for 2 days puts the third day’s word count at a huge 5,000.
A lot of people might give up when faced with that sort of mountain to climb.
Write every day. Try to meet or exceed the daily 1,667 words. Commit to the habit, and don’t allow yourself to fail.
5.) Ritual and Routine
Developing a ritual or routine surrounding your writing time can help maintain momentum.
Throughout November, you’ll be logging some serious time at the keyboard. It might help you to have a routine that signals to your brain: “Okay, this is writing time.”
It doesn’t have to be complicated. When I first started writing, my routine was as simple as making a french press of coffee and closing my eyes for a few minutes of introspective thought.
Try starting your writing time with a routine to help you get in the zone more easily.