With NaNoWriMo a week away, I decided to share my tips on winning the 30 day challenge of writing 50,000 words. After five years of attempting NaNoWriMo and failing repeatedly, I have now completed it three years in a row. Each year is different, but following these tips made completing the challenge a lot easier.
So, here they are, my tips for completing NaNoWriMo:
- Have a plan
Some people work really well in just writing and seeing where it takes them, but not me. When I try to fly by the seat of my pants I usually crap out around 17,000 words. Now, I start with a rough draft and flesh it out bit by bit until I can pretty much write to connect the dots.
- Aim Higher
To complete 50,000 words in 30 days you need to write 1,667 words per day. For the first seven days aim higher. I suggest 2,500 words, which will give you a 5,831 word buffer by the end of the week for if you struggle to keep your momentum later in the month.
- Attend Write-Ins
If you can get to them, I recommend trying to go to the write-ins planned in your local area. Having people write around you is a great motivator to really knuckle down and get that word count up.
- Bold, Capslock, and the use of NAME
When you’re in the flow of writing, you don’t want to have to stop every five minutes to look something up. Use the bold function or capslock to fill something in that you can come back to once you finish your sprint. Don’t know a name for a character, place, or item yet? Put NAME in caps and bold, and replace it once you’ve decided.
- Excel with Excel
Make a spreadsheet or word document of character details such as hair and eye colour so that you can refer to things quickly instead of searching through your text. Add to this as you go for easy reference.
- Take a day off
We can all use a recuperation day sometimes, whether it’s because we have other plans, or because we just want a day slobbing out and watching TV. Don’t feel guilty about it. Just adjust your word count over the week to keep yourself on track.
For example, if you take a day off, adjust the rest of the week to 1945 words. That will cover the day off.
Write or Die is an online program where you put in a word count and an amount of time. Write or Die will squeal at you if you stop writing. It’s a good way to keep your momentum going for forty-five minutes or so.
Freedom is another useful program. It requires purchase after the first 5 uses, but is worth the investment. Freedom shuts off your internet for the amount of time you designate, and the only way to get it back is to restart your computer. Great to use if you’re constantly distracted by Twitter and Facebook.
- Rush Hour, Rush Writing.
If you use public transport to get to and from work or school, use this time to get a bit of writing done on your phone or in a notebook. Even if it’s only a hundred words, that’s 100 words off your daily target.
- Write in Order
This is completely personal, but I find jumping around in a story to the exciting scenes counter-productive. Not only will you need much heavier editing later on to keep continuity through the story, but you may find yourself half way through the month suddenly saddled with all the slower, exploration scenes. Writing in order will help drive you through the exploration scenes in order to get to that exciting scene you’ve been desperate to write all month.
So, I hope you’re all looking forward to NaNoWriMo and that you found these tips helpful. I’m CheleCooke on the NaNoWriMo website, so feel free to send me a buddy invite. I’m also @CheleCooke on Twitter and I’ll be updating progress, tips, and trying to help people out throughout the month.