Tips for NaNoWriMo

So what is NaNo and how do I win this thing?

So I'm sure about 95% of y'all have heard about NaNoWriMo and know what it is and have probably done it (or at least done Camp NaNo) a time or two.

But for those who don't know...

NaNoWriMo is a Thing.

A fun writing Thing, to be more exact. It started a number of years ago when some crazy people banded together to try and write their books in a month. Eventually word got around and more and more people wanted to try and they made a website and made it official and now anyone can join in and do it!

The Official NaNo website can be found HERE.

You don't have to sign up to do NaNo, but there are bonuses if you do - you can a place to enter in your word count and you and browse the forums for writing tips and you can get cool freebies and discounts for writing software if you win. So I would suggest signing up as it is free and can help you hold yourself accountable.

But what actually IS NaNo? (i.e. what do I do for it?)

Easy. Write 50,000 words in your book. Start on November 1st, and write up until midnight on November 30th. Make sure you validate your word count on the Official Website so you can claim your winners certificate and check out the winner goodies.

Why 50K? That's the average word count of a novel. Apparently.

Do I have to write on Sundays? Nope! Write whenever you want! Just get it done during the month of November.

Can I finish before the 30th? Yes! After a certain date you are allowed to validate your novel.

There you have it. NaNo in a nutshell.

But let's be honest. Writing 50K is hard. So I also have a few tips for you.

Be Prepared. Unless you are a tried and true hardcore pantster (writing by the seat of your pants and having any kind of outline whatsoever gives you extreme panic and writers block), you will want some kind of a guide. Even having a brief summary of your story (something like "they all go over here and stuff happens and then someone dies and it ends" can help).

Announce Your Plans. We all know it's embarrassing to tell everyone you're doing some big thing and then later have to tell them you failed and didn't make it. But you are going to need the support of your friends and family. You can't just hole up in your room and never come out. And shouting "I'm writing a book for NaNo" through your closed door does not count. You need to sit them down beforehand and look them in the eyes and say, "I'm going to attempt to do NaNo. What can I do so that I have time to write? Can you help keep me on track?" They'll be much more likely to walk the dog for you or at least will understand why you're not keen on getting out and doing stuff with them. They'll know it's not personal, you're just trying to reach a goal.

Do NOT use that backspace key! Unless it's just a typo or changing the word order of a sentence, do not go back and rewrite!! Did you suddenly realize that a name needs to be changed, or that a certain scene doesn't need to be there? Don't delete it! You'll loose your word count. Just keep charging ahead and take that scene out in December while you're editing. Don't look back, y'all, just going going.

Word Sprints/Word Wars. These are fun. Basically, you set a timer, usually anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, and then type like a maniac. Remember my above tip? Well, I don't even stop to fix typos when I'm doing sprints. Once the timer goes off, I'll go through and fix anything that has that annoying red line under it, but when the timer is on--I'm typing!

A word war is same idea, only you're doing it with a friend, or even a group of people. You can find people on the NaNo website and challenge them, or you can text or message an online friend. Pick how many minutes, and see who gets the highest word count in that space of time!

Both are really great ways to boost your word count up.

Know your word count. You have to reach 50K in 30 days. That's essentially 1,667 words a day. If you don't write on Sundays (like me), that takes it to 1,923 words a day. Keeping track of your word count helps you decide if you can take a break or if you need to maybe skip out on movie night and get some extra words in.

Write more when you can. So maybe you're on top of your word count. You're about 2 weeks in, and all is well. You reach the 2K a day or whatever and decide to turn in early and maybe watch some YouTube or something. Don't. If you have extra time, write. If you get sick, or take off a few days to help prepare for Thanksgiving, or work gets busy or your family holds a week-long game tournament, you won't have to stress. You can miss a few days, because you wrote extra on other days.

Plus, you are allowed to win anytime during the month. You don't have to reach 50K on the 30th. And if you can get reach that before Thanksgiving, it'll be a less stressful holiday.

Set yourself up for success - type correctly. If you have the typing skills of a two-fingered toddler, invest in a typing program or find something for free online. Knowing how to use all your fingers to type - and not having to look at the keyboard constantly - is an amazing help. The faster you can type, the easier it will be to reach your word count.

Set yourself up for success - Prepare before you start typing. Get your chores done. Grab a drink and maybe a snack. Let everyone know it's your writing time. Then sit down and write.

Don't feel guilty. If you don't make it, be proud of what you did achieve. Be proud that you tried your best. Be proud of how far you got before life, thanksgiving, sickness, work, etc, got in your way and tackled you like a football player.

Remember: just because you can't write 50K in one month does not mean you are less of a writer then those who can write 50K (or even 100K) in a month. Your book might be better than theirs. Your book might need less editing by the time it's done. You might just have not as much time available to write as they do.

This is a race, a challenge, for YOU. To push YOU. NaNoWriMo is about getting people together and writing. It's not about finding out who the "real writers" are. It's about challenging yourself towards the goal of writing a novel.

And you can do this.

16 comments:

  1. I can't believe it's almost time for NaNo!!! I'm so excited!

    Great list of tips!

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    1. Me too!!! I'm really looking forward to working with SSaS!

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  2. Ahhhh this is going to be SO FUN this year and I can't waaaaaait

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  3. OH MY GOODNESS so exciting!! I'm so pumped for NaNo!! Also not using the backspace key is a really good tip. I'm going to have to remember that. It's going to take the story places I had no idea it would, but that's part of the fun, isn't it? :P

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    1. Exactly! You can fix it all in editing later! :)

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  4. The not using the backspace key is a really good tip because when I'm writing my editor brain keeps trying to kick in and fix every. single. little. thing. Great tips!

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    1. Resist the temptation to constantly edit little things!!

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  5. Great info! This is super helpfull! I really want to do NaNo, but I haven't been able to get ready for it. I would need a lot of story planning before I started.

    astorydetective.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey, just wing it and see where the story takes you!

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  6. Great tips! The guilt thing is a killer.

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    1. Any progress is progress and be proud of what you accomplish!

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  7. These tips are SOOO helpful! I loved this post <333

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  8. Excellent tips! It's great to tell family and friends about your crazy writing endeavour; they're usually much more supportive than we expect! ;)

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    1. Yes! November is the one time every year where I'll say, "Can this wait, because I'm writing?"

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