Nanowrimo is arguably one of my favorite times of the year. Yes, it is stressful but it is the one month where writers come out of the woodwork to encourage each other on their products. I finished my first original novel (and several after) in Nanowrimo. Heck, HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO was finished this month so many Nanos ago. (I sat on the manuscript for a LONG time before looking at it again.) Book 2 of the Order of Olympus Series was drafted last November (I also sat on it for a long time.)
For better or worse Nanowrimo has helped me get the words out and on to a blank page.
Unfortunately, I am not doing it this year. Prepping a book for publication, work, and school are keeping me busy this month. It’s always hard to say no to Nanowrimo but I wanted to let you all know that you are amazing for taking on this endeavor! It is going to be a great experience.
Whether it is your first Nano or your tenth, below are a few tips that have helped me in the past! I hope they help you as well.
1. Keep track of your word count. For the newbies out there, this is essential. The Nanowrimo website makes it easy with their built in calendar, but keeping track of your word count every day is essential to accomplishing 50K in a month. Use the calendar! It tells you an estimated date of when you should finish, based on your daily inputs. Another great resource for this is pacemaker which I discovered recently and LOVE! It helps you track days, how many days you can slack (one break day won’t kill you) and motivates you to achieve your goals.
2. Have an award system. I have always been a sticker kid. Getting a sticker after a key accomplishment was a great motivator for me, sometimes that sticker took the shape of a chocolate kiss or a glass of wine (after a very good day of writing.) There are some awesome and fun stickers that I use on my calendar to mark my writing successes. Whatever you decide to do, make sure to reward your success!
3. The Middle of the Month is the Hardest Part! Make sure you bulk up that word count early on in the race before you start to drag. Putting a little extra work in now will help when you need to take a break in the middle of the month, or when life gets too busy. I always exceeded the word count in the first week knowing full well that I wouldn’t be hitting the 1667 word goal during Thanksgiving Week. Planning ahead and knowing your constraints is another key part of a successful Nanowrimo.
4. Sprints are your friend! Nanowrimo is a great time to discover the glory of word sprints! Don’t know what those are? Just check out @NaNoWordSprints twitter to see for yourself. Essentially, this is a carved out time slot (usually 10-15 min) where you write nonstop and try to get as many words as possible. You’ll be surprised by the results. The short suspense means you don’t have much time to overthink and forces you to just get the words on the page! This exercise will do wonders for your word count. It’s also fun to get competitive with your fellow writers.
Hint: You can also set up your own sprint time on twitter if you’d like. Just announce the start time on the #writingcommunity or #nanowrimo and see who is willing to join you.
5. Start and end each writing section knowing what will happen next. This is a sure fire way to make sure you don’t hit writer’s block. Also, start your writing session knowing exactly what will happen in a scene (this will make achieving the word count easier) and always finish the session at a point where you know exactly what is happening next. This way you’ll be excited to jump back into the project the next day and you’ll be set for success.
6. READ your Nanowrimo Pep Talk Emails. The Nano team should send you a week Pep Talk email, which is often words of encouragement from well established authors (many of which have done Nano in the past.) I highly recommend you read these. I’ve gone back and read ones from the past whenever I felt particularly overwhelmed. This year they got a great line up with Susan Dennard and V.E. Schawb.
I hope these tips can help you all achieve your goals this month. You can also read my tips from last year here and look at my Writer Resource Page for great books, podcasts, and websites to help you on this journey.