NaNoWriMo Tips

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NaNo Tips

All right. We’re about 35,000 words in–zeroing in on the home stretch, so to speak. I’ve won this thing once way back in prehistory and I’m going to win it again, so I thought I’d share tips. Because what the internet needs, burningly, is more people offering advice. At least NaNoing is something I can’t have a degree in, so you know I’m just as trustworthy as anyone else.

1) Go ahead and get a nanowrimo.org account.

Not for the support and connecting with writers in your area, though those things are both tres cool.

The NaNo website has the best wordcounter I’ve found for NaNo. It measures you against the daily recommended wordcount of 1,667, shows your progress, your estimated finishing date, how far you have left to go. Goal-oriented asses such as myself will find a lot of use in this: if you enter your wordcount in every day, sometimes two or three times a day, you’ll take heart when you see the numbers rise, feel disappointed in yourself when you see them fall. You can snoop other peoples’ wordcounts and see how far behind/ahead you are. Yay, competition! It helps keep us alive and writing.

(A NOTE: you might want to put a posting limit on yourself, if you plan on using the site’s forums and such. Though it might feel like you’re working on your novel just by posting, you aren’t: nothing can suck up time quite like a good forum.)

2) Plan.

Know your anniversary is the twelfth? Write 2,000 words a day the week leading up to it, instead of 1,667. It’ll take you an extra fifteen or so minutes a day, and it’ll keep you from falling behind. Know you’re going to be busy on Thanksgiving? Try to finish a few days early, so you don’t have to sprint for it last minute. Even if you don’t quite make the goals you’ve planned for yourself, you’ve done less damage than you would have if you didn’t create them at all.

Not disappointing people when following your goals is all about planning. If you finish NaNo on the 25th, you can listen to Grandpa’s story about Aunt Linda getting run over by a bread truck for the fiftieth time without your fingers twitching. It’s only fair, to you and to Grandpa, to try and think ahead. (Poor Aunt Linda, though. You loaf that story, and she has trouble getting a slice of your time. Mrpf. Mrhrhrr. Pfff.)

3) Write Ahead.

Actually, you should be writing 2,000 to 2,500 words a day anyway. Stuff comes up, and you’re not always going to be able to plan for it. Get yourself a nice big margin so that when it does, you’re ready for it. Also, when you shoot for the moon, fall, stars, etc. You know. I can’t bring myself to pollute my nice gloomy blog with that sentiment, but you get it. Whatever. Overachieve.

My main point is, don’t just toss down the pen because you’ve hit your daily requirement. Really, what kind of a writer are you? Add a few more paragraphs, an extra page. Reach the end of the scene. Wait for a good stopping point, and you’ll find your wordcount increasing.

4) Invest in a mobile writing device.

Fairly mobile, anyway. Those twelve minutes you spent waiting for your coffee this morning could’ve produced a few hundred words. Lunch break? Stop talking about the game last night and start writing. Your time sitting around while dinner’s in the oven? Please. Writing piecemeal might not produce the most lucid and brilliant scenes on earth, but hell, this is NaNo. You can fix that when you’ve got time to edit. In the meanwhile, crunch without shame. Those 1,667 words will come a lot faster.

5) Use your down time.

There are going to be times when you can’t write. Maybe you’re just not into it, maybe your brain is so much mush at the end of a tiring workday. Maybe you’d rather stare into space while waiting for your coffee.

You don’t have to be constantly glued to a keyboard to be productive. Spend some time to just think about your story. Mull it over in your head. What’s going to happen next? Whose point of view is the flashdance scene going to be from? Is your main character really just a steel town girl on a Saturday night, looking for the fight of her life, or is there something more underneath? (Hint: she’s probably a maniac. Maniac. On the floor.)

There y’go: NaNo tips and terrible puns. Not giving you all the ‘don’t give up’ nonsense because, well, you already know you shouldn’t, and advice from some pudgy stranger online isn’t going to stop you. But I will add:

6) Stop talking about how hard it is.
NaNo’s like any other life task: the harder you make it seem, the harder it becomes. If you dread sitting down and writing those two thousand words, they won’t come to you quick or easy. If you waste your breath talking about all the coffee you somehow had to drink just to get 2,000 words down, you’re going to have the jitters for the rest of the week, and I’d put five dollars down on you not getting your work done.

Writing is fun. We’re doing NaNo because we think writing is fun. So stop killing yourself over it (how will I eeeever find the time, blah blah blah, fret fret,) and start looking forward to it. It’s an hour or two a day you can devote to your passion, and with NaNo, you have a viable excuse.

Scowl and huff all the way to the office door, if it’s what buys you the time. But once you’re in there and you’ve locked it, relax. This isn’t some big stressful undertaking: this is you time.

Good luck, everybody. How many more days do we have? Seventeen?

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