I have to say, NANOWRIMO members are some of the most generous, encouraging artists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.
Continuing the spirit of generosity, I’m writing up a list of tips from NANOWRIMO veterans.
Skyla generously shared her tips for hitting 50,000:
One trick I use to make sure I finish is that I wear my word count on my shirt each day. I pick up a bunch of smallish computer lables – they work really well.
People ask about why I have random numbers on my shirt so I tell them.
People get interested (and maybe even join themselves!). My guess is that if I randomly stopped or had a lame word count for three days in a row they’d get on my back about it.
One thing that really helps me finish is that I stick to the daily word count goal. I usually shoot for 2,000 instead of 1667 since it’s an easier number to count and it gives me extra words for those days when I just can’t write anymore.
Never ever skip a day.
If you can’t write enough one day, try to make it up the next. For me, if I got too far behind, it’d be really easy to quit, so it’s good to stay on track or ahead.
Atalanta took the leap last year, and got the support she needed
Hello and welcome! I did the same thing in my first year: I made a very public announcement that I was participating because I knew if I didn’t it would be all too easy to quit.
It definitely helped because I did try to quit — on day one! 😛 But I let everyone know I was thinking of ditching the whole thing and I got a lot of support, especially from one friend who said that if I quit, he’d quit.
Guilt is a powerful motivator!
I also stumbled on this brilliant tipsheet from Atalanta. A fount of wisdom, that woman is!
Quantity, not quality.
NaNoWriMo isn’t about crafting perfect prose — it’s not even about crafting readable prose. It’s about pushing through everything that holds you back (self doubt, busy schedule, perfectionism, inexperience, etc.) and pounding out a first draft. Yes, much of it will be awful — but you’ll also be surprised at the gems in the rough.
DO NOT EDIT DURING NOVEMBER
Giving in to your “internal editor” is a sure-fire strategy for disaster. Trust me, I know this from experience. Learn to ignore it all, from the clunky sentence structure and typos, to the plot holes and bad dialog. Just keep writing! One of the things that helped me in my first year was to keep telling myself that NaNo was “just a writing exercise” and didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I was right — and I won.
You aren’t writing 50k, you’re writing 1667 a day.
Don’t think about the distant, intimidating goal of getting 50,000 words written in 30 days. Every morning your goal is at least 1667 words for that 24-hour period. In fact, make it a nice round 2000 words and build up a comfort zone as you go along.
Make the Word Wars, Prompts, & Sprints Forum your new best friend during November, especially if you have a tight schedule. I guarantee: word-wars will increase your writing speed. I don’t fully understand the psychology behind it, but it works.
A dare is a challenge to include something silly in your novel. Find a dare thread (they’re all over the place; take this one for instance) and then pick out at least 5-10 dares to use during the month. Not only will they be available to lean on if you run out of ideas, but they’re a wonderful antidote to perfectionism!
Whether it’s a piece of chocolate for every 2k, a new book for every 10k, or a single big reward at the end of the month, if you can find a tempting tidbit to dangle in front of your nose, you’ll find it much easier to stay focused on your word count.
The forums aren’t just for socializing. Are you panicking because your protagonist just bailed out on your plot? Ask for help in Plot Doctoring. Do you suddenly need to know the loading capacity of a wall-mounted ballista? Try Character & Plot Realism. Does a spontaneous walk-on character need a name appropriate for your setting? Check out your genre forum.
Faith and good habits will take you places that talent alone never will.
Have faith in your ability to accomplish your ultimate goal (50,000 words) …
…and establish good habits (1667 words a day) to get you there.
sushimustwrite had some great advice as well…
First, write every day.
Even if you can’t hit the recommended and magical 1667 words every single day, try to write something down every day, even if it’s just a small scene or a conversation.
Skipping one day makes it so much to skip another day, and another, and another, and next thing you know you’ll just want to quit altogether.
While we’re on the topic of writing every day, try to leave yourself a small cushion every day.
Sure, the recommended daily word count is 1667 words, but some days you may not hit that many words. Other days, however, you’ll find yourself feeling especially prolific and going over (sometimes far over) the daily word count.
If you know you won’t have much time to write at some point in the month, schedule more time to write when you do have time so you’re not panicking and writing the last half of your novel during the last few days. It can be done (I did it my first year, and many others have too), but for reasons to be explained later, this is an experience to be avoided if you can help it.
* Rewards. Finished that tricky scene? Have a cookie. Finished a chapter? Stand up, stretch, walk around the room, go to the bathroom if you need to.
Make sure to sit back down and get back to writing, though!
Actually, making yourself finish that scene or chapter before you do any of these things can be enough motivation to keep you going.
I keep candy in front of me while I was writing and told myself I couldn’t have any until I hit my word count goal for the day. Reward yourself well when you finish–you deserve it!
* Word wars. Anyone who knows me knows I love this way of writing. This idea behind it is that you set a timer for some short period of time between ten and thirty minutes (my favorite is 15) and write as much as you can during that time. You can compete against yourself, or you can find chat rooms where NaNo novelists are word warring together.
* Write whatever you want. Don’t want to write the next scene? Don’t do it. Write the one after that, or the awesome fight scene, or the scene after the awesome fight scene that you’ve been plotting in your head. Just because you’re stuck in one place doesn’t mean you have to be stuck everywhere.
Still hungry? Check the NANO Forums!
Have good advice? Catch me on Twitter
And above all, keep writing.