It’s not just about saying, “Hey, I’m NaNo-ing!”
It would be nice if it were, but writing 50,000 words in a month? That’s not something you can do in your sleep. Unless you can, in which, tell me your secrets. You can get SO much done during the nighttime hours (but y’all, sleep is super important, so also do that. Don’t sacrifice sleep for anything. Especially not a writing challenge). Either way, it’s important to know what makes a good writing environment for you, but also to know that you’re never going to have “perfect” writing conditions all the time. You have to write no matter what.
So, welcome to Part Two of this Writing Tips NaNoWriMo 2017 Countdown, where I’m I’m going to talk about some ways to have a successful NaNoWriMo session. Also known as:
Part Two: 6 Tips For A Successful @NaNoWriMo
And the rest of the series:
Part Six: Get Writing Prompts By TFR Volume 1 For Only 99 Cents!
Some of these tips might ring in the general direction of the Writing Tips post I released earlier this year, like 4 Reasons Why Breaks Are Good For Your Productivity, but there will also be tips that are unique to a challenge like this.
The first step you must take to have a successful NaNoWriMo is to COMMIT to NaNoWriMo. While it works for some people to just say, “Hey, it’s November, I’m going to write 50,000 words this month.” For others, it’s not so easy. Sometimes you need a reminder of what you’re doing and why you’re doing, which means signing up for NaNoWriMo (it’s not difficult), setting up an author profile, announcing your novel, joining your local community (your Region, and there’s more on that in Part One), find a writing buddy or two (I’m KathrynR47), read and contribute to the forums, and if you can, contribute to the cause.
I add contribute to the cause (if you can), because I can’t be the only person who’s more willing to try to finish a project if there’s some cash at stake. That doesn’t mean you have to, or that you have to fork over your hard-earned millions (yeah, yeah, right), but NaNoWriMo is a great organization that spreads literacy, which lord knows we need more of in this world. In 2016, NaNoWriMo brought free writing programs to thousands and thousands of people around the world. More on donating to NaNoWriMo HERE.
If you signed up early, you probably got the same email I did, with NaNoWriMo’s three ways to commit to your novel, which includes preordering your (awesome!) 2017 winners shirt, downloading the 30 November Writing Prompts (and don’t forget my Prompt Library for hundreds more pieces of inspiration), become a fearless fundraiser (see above), and a bonus link to a prep book written by one of the NaNoWriMo executives.
Keep An Eye On Those Badges
Another way actually committing to NaNoWriMo is useful is the badges system. I can’t be the only person who feels a sense of accomplishment when I see those badges turn from gray to color. And NaNoWriMo features a BUNCH of badges, so it’s not difficult to keep the accomplishments rolling all month long.
There are badges you get just for participating and doing all the things I mentioned above in the Commit section, badges you’ll earn through the month as you hit your first writing goal and the rest of the writing milestones on your way to 50,000 words, check in daily (more on that next), and a whole section of personal achievement badges, which include announcing yourself as a Planner or Pantser (Hi, fellow Pantsers!), if you’re a NaNo Rebel, a Word Sprinter, a Camper, and so much more.
Check In Daily
As I said above, there are some badges that you earn only if you check in to the NaNoWriMo website daily. And with the advent of the Internet and smartphones, it’s not difficult to pop on the website for a minute or two a day to check in, update your word count, and see what’s going on in the forums or in your Region. I highly recommend the above and to check your inbox, see what messages you have from your fellow writing buddies or from the Municipal Liaisons in your Region.
And daily check-ins mean that it’s not possible to forget that you committed to writing 50,000 words through NaNoWriMo. It’s a helpful reminder that you are doing something awesome and great and not that easy, but if you persevere and push through, good things are going to happen to the novel or other writing project you’re working on.
Find Your Support System
Everyone needs a support system. You know, the person or people you can whine at when the words aren’t working, or to share a writing win, like breaking through that scene that drove you nuts for days, or doubling your writing goal in one session, or figuring out a major plot twist that’ll take your story to that next level or awesome.
It doesn’t have to be another writer, it doesn’t have to be through NaNoWriMo, but it also CAN be. I’ve mentioned the Regions many times through this post and Part One, and Regions are awesome because they’re made up of people who live relatively close to where you’re doing your writing. Not only that, but NaNoWriMo’s Night of Writing Dangerously Write-a-thon isn’t the only place where you can connect with your fellow NaNos (More on that event here), but your Municipal Liaisons in your Region do plan local writing events, like meet ups and coffee shops and libraries.
Your support system can be on social media, like by sharing pieces of your writing or your struggles in Facebook groups (I’m sure they’re out there) or on Twitter (there are plenty of NaNoWriMo-related hashtags you can search through to find your fellow writers), or anywhere else where you write either online or offline.
Write For 30 Minutes A Day
Now, I’m not saying you’re going to get all 1,667 words written in 30 minutes, but it’s a start, and I can’t be the only writer who can’t easily stop once they’re on a roll. 30 minutes is really not a long time, and you can break that into shorter sprints, and even if you’re a literary perfectionist, try to let it go. NaNoWriMo isn’t about writing the perfect novel, it’s about creating a DRAFT of a novel.
That’s something that not a lot of people talk about, in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. To do so much in so little time, you’re not going to write a perfect story. You’re going to have plot holes, missing scenes, unnecessary scenes, characters that need fleshing out, and more. The point of NaNoWriMo is to get something to START with (and definitely DO NOT try to get a literary agent based off your NaNoWriMo project. More on that toward the end of NaNoWriMo, and when we get to the Now What? Part of the even). You start with the draft you wrote during NaNoWriMo, and THEN you go back to it and you make it great. And making it great means looking at your work with a critical eye (also, more on that toward the end of the month).
But I digress. In order to have a successful NaNoWriMo, you must carve out time to actually write. And that may mean cutting down on some other Internet-based ventures. When I NaNo’d in 2015, I went cold turkey on my Tumblr browsing. And since doing that, I haven’t been nearly as glued to that website, which is a load off. If you know Tumblr, you know the pros and cons to it, and you know that it’s a great place…in small doses (and no, the TheFakeRedheadWrites Tumblr account is not the account I’m talking about. If you’re on Tumblr and you’re interested in writing prompts, that’s another great resource of mine.)
Don’t Forget To Hydrate
I’m a really big fan of my Writing Tips post, 4 Reasons Why Breaks Are Good For Your Productivity, because you have to remember that as a human, you have needs and limits. Sure, there might be some days where you know you’re NOT going to be able to write as much as you want (I see you, Thanksgiving), but loading up one day or two days with writing sessions can be tough. Remember to take regular breaks, remember to eat, remember to stay hydrated, and remember to stand up for a few minutes. Regularly.
I’ve made it clear that I believe that writing 50,000 words in 30 days is a massive undertaking, and it’s super important to remember to take care of yourself, even as you lose yourself by falling down the writing rabbit hole.