NaNoWriMo can be exhilarating and exciting, but it can also be quite the daunting task. It’s a challenge that requires effort and stamina. I’ve completed it several times, but I’ve also had real life take over and thwart all of my efforts. It’s totally understandable that sometimes it’s just not your year to complete it. However, if you start off thinking that way, then mostly likely by the 16th you’ll have already given up on trying.
Tip #1 for getting through NaNoWriMo is to really TRULY commit to finishing 50,000 words in 30 days. You can do it! Seriously! It’s not that hard. It just sounds hard. If you write 1,667 words daily, you can stay on track and keep up with the pace. And even if you slack for a day or two, you can easily catch up. If you have this mindset, you’re already winning.
Tip #2: Schedule your writing time. If you already commit to it, then you work the rest of your life around that half hour, hour, or whatever block of time that works for you. It’s important to make it a priority. You’re not messing around! This is your writing time.
Tip #3: Have a community of cheerleaders. Everyone needs encouragement, especially when your story is going haywire or you’ve turned your character into an amnesiac and you can’t seem to get out of the pit of despair (seriously). It doesn’t have to be a fellow Wrimo, but it definitely helps if they can feel your “pain” by going through the process with you. I’ve found a lot of great virtual buddies who are also working on NaNoWriMo this year. Social media often fosters an outpouring of camaraderie and support throughout November. Twitter and Facebook are both great for meeting other Wrimos who are going through the same thing.
Tip #4: Silence your inner editor. This is challenging and most people have problems with this. It’s difficult to write without editing the work that you’ve just written. Sometimes we’re so hung up on the way a sentence comes out on the page that we never finish the paragraph. It’s important to give yourself a pass for this during the month of November. Anything goes and you can always spell-check in December! Trust me. It will free you and let your ideas flow.
Tip #5: Have favorite creative space(s). It’s important to feel comfortable when you’re making stuff up! Make sure to have at least one or two favorite places that you can escape to and get some real work done. Those places can be your designated “writing only” places.
Tip #6: Caffeine and also… chocolate. This is the time to bust out the good stuff. If you enjoy coffee, make sure it’s always on hand. Same for the tea drinkers. Have a stash of your favor ite tea with you for when you’re on the go. For those of you who don’t drink either, hot chocolate can be just as effective! There’s a sugar and caffeine buzz in that too! Chocolate in general is good to have around. It’s been shown that not only does chocolate stimulate your endorphins (aka happy brain chemicals), but it also helps fire up those neurons that help you think faster and more efficiently. Perfect for writing many words and figuring out those plot twists!
Tip #7: Move. Make sure to get up often. Stretch and walk around for a bit in order to keep the blood flowing and give your eyes a break for a moment. Sometimes a few minutes of that can reinvigorate you and you’ll be ready to get your butt back in that chair and write away.
Tip #8: Rewards. Make sure to treat yourself along the way. Every time you meet a word-count challenge or even a daily goal, give yourself a reward. They can be anything from small things like a special yummy latte to perhaps a new purchase such as a new book from your favorite author. Noveling is hard, so why not make it more pleasant with a reward?
Tip #9: Update your word count. Nothing feels as good as seeing that number going up and getting closer and closer to 50,000. Shout it from the virtual rooftops by tweeting it or sharing it on Facebook. Believe me, the more you talk about it, the more likely you’ll finish it! You can also use your own word count widgets to post (here’s a link for a few simple ones) or use the ones provided by the NaNoWriMo site.
And most importantly….
Tip #10: A little self-respect, self-love and never saying “You can’t”: Having a cheerleader can make a difference, but the real cheerleader ultimately has to be YOU. You need to believe that you can do it. No one can win NaNo for you, so you’ve got to put that pen to paper or fingers to keys and keep on writing! You can do it!