Depending on how quickly I can write this post, there are approximately 83 hours left until the sheer chaos and madness of November rolls into town. If you are anything like me, that can only mean that NaNoWriMo is just around the corner.
Once more, I have committed myself to writing a 50,000 word novel in a mere 30 days. Once more, my husband will curse the friends who ever told me about National Novel Writing Month. Once more, I shall consume way more coffee than is recommended. Once more, I will walk through the world in a haze of forgotten characters, abandoned plot points, and impractical, imagined technology, muttering under my breath as I try to fix awkward dialogue. Yep, November is a fun month.
With NaNo looming on the horizon, I thought I would share a few tips that I have learned through experience on getting that puppy written. There have been several years that I was racing midnight on November 30th just to reach my word count goal, so believe me when I say that I know how challenging this can be, especially if it’s your first attempt. However, you can also believe me when I say that you can do this. Following are different tricks that I have tried.
- Plot your way! I have noticed that plotting ahead of time helps when I’m suffering writer’s block. If I feel like I have nothing left to write at a certain section but I know where the novel is going overall, I will highlight the passage where I ran out of steam and keep writing in a different section of the novel. Or, if I’m writing along and the scene is going nowhere, or the dialogue is going in a direction that I don’t want to go but don’t know how to fix in the moment, I’ll write a snarky comment to myself, highlight the section, and move on.
- Quiet your inner editor. As someone with perfectionist tendencies, it took me awhile to shut up my inner editor enough to be able to do either of the above tips. Consider your novel in November a first draft only. Keep Anne Lamott’s advice in mind about writing sh**** first drafts. You can–and will–always revise your work.
- Find writing buddies. You don’t necessarily need writing buddies who will be there with you face to face, but having a friend who understands what you are going through really helps.
- Find some personal cheerleaders. Your cheerleaders can also be writing buddies, but they could be someone who has never written a novel or even a haiku and has no interest in writing. Whoever you choose should be someone who knows how to build you up and generally be a good, supportive friend.
- Treat writing time as sacred. Figure out when your brain is most productive and set that writing time aside. Don’t schedule anything during that time. Turn off your cell phone. Disconnect from the internet. Let any family, friends, or roommates know what you are up to and ask that they respect your writing time as well.
- Develop a writing sanctuary. What do you need to keep the words flowing–a great playlist, snacks to keep your blood sugar up, coffee/energy drinks, silence, mood lighting? Figure out what makes you tick creatively and find a way to give yourself those things.
- Carry a notebook. Take one with you wherever you go because you never know when inspiration will strike. I have been known to develop characters or write scenes in classes, in church, while waiting in line at the store or Starbucks, in a drive through, while waiting at a stoplight, taking the bus, etc. Think like a girl scout and be prepared.
- Give yourself a safety net. Inasmuch as you can, give yourself a cushion of writing at the beginning of the month because the end of the month tends to get a little crazy. Americans, that’s Thanksgiving. It’s hard to write when you have family functions and when you are gearing up for the winter holidays.
- Don’t panic. Just keep breathing. This too shall pass.
- Panic. 🙂 If you can use that nervous energy to channel it into your novel, let it flow! And besides, this is kind of a stressful month, it’s ok to panic a little. Just don’t wallow in panic or you’ll never get anything done.
What are your tips for surviving NaNoWriMo? Are you a newbie or a longtime participant? Tell me about your expectations for November. 🙂
PS. I’m Gears_n_Cogs over on the website. Be my writing buddy?