It’s the third Friday of November, which means it’s time for yet another NaNo tip! This one comes after a very rough couple of weeks for me, so you can bet that I’ll be employing some of these suggestions in the second half of the month!
Every time I’ve lost NaNoWriMo, it’s because I stopped writing for a couple of days, lost the momentum I had built up, and struggled to build it up again. You let yourself get carried away by other responsibilities, and you don’t make time for writing. And the longer you spend away from the writing, the easier it becomes to ignore and the harder it becomes to get back into it. Don’t let this happen to you. It is very hard to bounce back if you’ve let yourself slack off for the better part of the month.
Of course, this might not apply if you’re an amazingly fast writer. Maybe you have the confidence to bounce back with only a week or two left, but on the whole, I’d say most cannot. Especially any new wrimos who are still learning their process.
Only once have I ever managed to do that, and that was during NaNoWriMo 2013, where I had to write about 30k in less than a week. It was pure stubbornness that pushed me through it, and I consider it something of an outlier.
The first half of the month is when you’re the most vulnerable. All of my other failed attempts were at much lower word counts. I’m talking around 10-20k into a manuscript. It’s not even half-way, which somehow makes it easier to throw in the towel. It’s a lot of words, but somehow not enough to keep pushing for a win. It can also give you a false sense of security, maybe even a feeling of success – 20k is a LOT of words. Maybe more than you’ve ever written before.
Give yourself that pat on the back, you deserve it.
And then get back to writing.
Write Every Day
This isn’t advice I would normally endorse, but if you want to win NaNoWriMo, you need to keep up your momentum. And that means writing every day. Even if you can’t write for very long. Even if all you manage to write is 100 words. What matters is that you wrote.
If you think you need a break, I encourage you to reconsider. Even if all you spend on your novel is a ten-minute sprint, it keeps it present in your mind and helps make it into a habit. And that’s what you want – for the desire to write to come more naturally. If you do decide to take that break, do so with caution, and keep it as short as possible.
Use Short Sprints
Sometimes writing is intimidating. Sometimes that big word count is just a scary pressure sitting on your shoulders every day. It can make starting at all feel like a lot of trouble.
So don’t think about that 1667 words. Think about how much you can get done in 5 minutes. Or 1 minute.
Build up your momentum by doing a few very short sprints. Keep them fun and low pressure. Challenge yourself to see how many words you can crank out in only 60 seconds. Do it a couple more times to see if you can beat you’re highest. Once you’ve warmed up, you’re ready for a longer session, and hopefully you’ve already knocked a couple hundred words off your daily word count.
These can also be really helpful when you’re just not in the mood to write. Sometimes you have to put yourself in that mood, and the best way to do it is to actually write. A mini-sprint is low-effort and doesn’t take up a lot of time (obviously). They’re ideal for building up your momentum for a big word count day, or for picking up your momentum if you’re slacking.
You might feel as if you’re not getting a lot of work done, but if you want to write for a longer amount of time, then half the battle is already won.
Hopefully some of these tips help you out if you’re struggling! I know the mini-sprints are something I use all the time to give me that kick in the pants and help get me out of a slump.
We’re about halfway through the month now, and the middle is the hardest part of NaNoWriMo. Don’t let yourself lose that momentum! It’s going to be hard, but you can do it.
I’ll see you next week for another tip. Until then, happy writing!