NaNoWriMo: 7 Tips for Success
Every November, there is a goal-oriented writing event called NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Starting on November 1st, participants can go onto the website and keep track of their word count. It keeps track of your progress, shows the average word count you need to write each day to reach the end goal, and it shows a visual graph of the progress as well. For those who do well with specific goals and/or competition, this event is a great way to get those creative juices flowing.
November 2017 was my first time participating. I also participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in April 2018, where you can create your own goal instead of having the mandated 50,000 like the full event. Both times I was successful in reaching my goals.
Relatively speaking, I am fairly new to writing. I began writing about three years ago, but it wasn’t until January 2017 that I started to really get into it. Before I go on to give advice, please remember that I am not an expert by any means. That being said, here are my seven tips on succeeding this year with NaNoWriMo:
1. Plan Ahead
Whether you’re a plotter or pantser, you can still prepare yourself. For plotters, get those outlines planned, character names picked out, and figure out what you want to write. Pantsers, I know you like to go with the flow and just write, but you can still think about what type of story you want to tell and get an idea of where you want it to go.
2. Schedule Times to Write
As crazy as life can get, try and set aside specific times to write. Easier said than done, I understand. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time. Heck, it doesn’t even need to be at an exact time. For example, last year, I would write just before going to bed and then again when I first got up if I could. Sometimes it was for an hour, sometimes it was ten minutes.
3. Write However You Want
Don’t get caught up on where to write. It doesn’t matter whether you use Microsoft Word, Scrivener, or good ol’ pen and paper. Find what works for you and go for it. I personally prefer to use Google Docs so I can go back and forth between my laptop and phone. That way, when I get the urge to write at three in the morning, I can do so in bed from my phone and pick up right where I left off.
4. Don’t Focus on the Word Count
50,000 words is a lot! Yes, this is all about reaching that goal, but it’s also about motivating you to write. Focus on your writing. This is to help you write that novel you’ve been thinking about for far too long, to help you practice, and to help improve your skill. If you can’t reach 50,000 with one story, move on to another! Some may say this is cheating, or that it defeats the purpose, but I disagree. This is what I did last year. I had started writing a novella, reached about 37,000 words, and couldn’t go on. I had nothing. For a few days, I didn’t write because I didn’t know what to do. So, I started another story. The way I see it, the ultimate goal is to write, so do that. Who cares if it’s more than one story? This is all for you anyway, no one else sees what you’re writing; you just enter your word count.
5. Interact with Others
Find some friends who are participating and help keep each other motivated and accountable. Don’t know anyone doing it? There are chat boards and communities on the website! Social media is also a great resource. On Twitter, for example, use hashtags like #NaNoWriMo, #WordCount, and #amWriting to connect with others.
6. Find Fun Ways to Stay Motivated
Last year, I created a desktop calendar with the total word count goal for each day on it. This year, I made another one and I made a 2-page spread in my bullet journal to keep track. Make an aesthetic collage or an inspiration board on Pinterest. Create a writing playlist to listen to while working on your story. If you’re not creative, how about a reward system? For every 10,000 words reward yourself. Start off small and have something big for the final total.
7. Just Write
I was asked if I had any advice on NaNoWriMo recently and this was my response. Follow these steps, break the goal up, have fun, and just write. Don’t let this stress you out. If it’s bringing too much stress or anxiety, stop and take a minute to remember why you’re participating. You love to write. You have something to share with the world. Don’t lose sight of that.