Hello. If you’re new here, I’m a writer, and I love writing. I especially love writing events, and maybe you do too if you clicked on this post. Maybe you’ve heard of this crazy event called NaNoWriMo. I know I talk about it enough on here as it is. I do it every year and if you like writing at all, you might want to give it a shot.
If you didn’t know, NaNoWriMo is a writing event that happens every year (multiple times, if you count the Camp sessions, which I do) where you attempt to write 50 thousand words in a month and are joined by a huge community of writers trying to attempt the same thing. It’s fun and crazy, and absolutely worth it.
Anyway, that endorsement aside, I’ve done NaNoWriMo many, many times. As a NaNoWriMo veteran, I’ve got a handful of tips that you might find useful during April’s Camp NaNoWriMo.
If you’ve been here a while, you might recognize these. Every Friday last November I wrote a post about one of the tips or tricks that I used to help get me to 50 thousand words. And I think they’re good tips, and that they bear repeating, especially if you’re new to the NaNoWriMo game.
So, I’ve summarized the gist of each one down below. If you want a little more explanation, I’ve also linked the original post.
If you’re doing any session of NaNoWriMo this year, hopefully you find something below that helps you get through it. It can be tough, but you can do it!
While it might seem like a good idea to pace yourself, don’t. Trust me when I say that regardless of whether or not you take your time or not you will still feel the burn out when you hit the middle of the month. So you may as well pump out as many words as you can at the beginning. As they say, strike while the iron is hot. When you’re excited and passionate and the story is just bursting out of you is a good time to get some words down. And you’ll have a nice cushion in place for when you inevitably start to fall off the wagon.
I have always found starting to be the most daunting part of writing, and I find it especially difficult to get started when I’m staring at an empty page. So the solution is simple – I try to avoid an empty page. I write the first sentence of a chapter or insert a piece of dialogue from my outline. I write the beginning of the next scene or paragraph so I’m not starting from scratch the next time I open up the document. Even if you’re just pulling from your outline – if you have something written, you have a jumping-off point that should help you get started.
If I have any tips to give to new Wrimos it’s to avoid taking break days. Just keep writing every day, even if you don’t want to. It doesn’t matter if you hit your word count goal or not, but the longer you spend away from your novel, the harder it is to get back into it and the easier it is to avoid writing at all. It might seem harsh, but you can take the mental break after the month is over, especially if you’re determined to hit that word count goal. If you need to, use short, casual, no-pressure sprints to get the words flowing. I’ve done one-minute sprints before and they really help me to build my momentum up when it starts to wane. And even if they don’t, if you manage to do a dozen of these super-short sprints you’ll at least have some words written for the day. That’s the most important part – that you get your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard.
We’re only human. We like to see our progress. It’s what makes video games so addictive – that sense of accomplishment. We like to watch our word count go up and up and up. And NaNoWriMo makes it so much easier to focus on the number of words, and not the enjoyment or the quality. It can also make the writing feel that much more tedious when you can actually see how slowly you’re going. If you’re the type to hyper-fixate on your word count, then hide it. Make your font big. Make your text white. Hide those indicators of your progress and just write.
It might sound corny, but what matters where NaNoWriMo is concerned isn’t winning. There is no prize waiting for you at the end. You could certainly cheat your way to 50 thousand words or so be stringing together random words, but then you wouldn’t be learning what NaNoWriMo is designed to teach. It’s such an amazing experience, regardless of how well you do. Don’t ever let it get you down if you don’t win. It’s really not about winning. You’re part of an amazing community and doing something not everyone has the courage or strength to do – write a novel! Give yourself a pat on the back no matter what word count you end your month with!
Have Any More Tips?
These are some of the tricks I’ve picked up after many years of NaNoWriMo, but one of the things I love most about an event like this is that it is always forcing me to adapt and learn more, both about myself and my process. I’d love to know if you’ve done NaNoWriMo and what you’re experience was! What tricks got you through the month? What would you do differently? Let’s chat in the comments!