How to Win NaNoWriMo (+ A Personal Update)

Let me start by saying I’m afraid to make this post, but it’s been a few weeks, and I owe you guys an update.

There are several reasons making this post scares me:

For starters, I’m afraid you’ll judge me for jumping ship on Awake for the next few weeks. I’m about halfway-ish through it, and I’m going to finish the rough draft at least by the end of January, you can hold me to that.

But more than that, I’m afraid to write this post because I have some kind of performance anxiety. As soon as I tell people “I’m doing [X]” I start to panic about doing X, even if I’ve been doing it well up until that point.

That’s the case with this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’m a few thousand words behind where I’d like to be at the moment (though technically I’m still on target!), but I’ve written every day so far and I fully intend to finish with 50,000 words at the end of the month if it kills me.

Anyway, Arrival is in full swing, and as much as I want to bang my head off my coffee table (because I don’t work at a desk) and scream, there’s also a huge sense of pride that I’m creating something new again.

The feeling of writing a novel is slightly intoxicating to me, and that’s why I write.

NaNo’s been difficult this year because I’m working 35-40 hours a week, and so I’m trying to keep up with that, plus trying to keep up my relationship (thank goodness she’s ALSO doing NaNoWriMo this year, so she understands) is kind of exhausting, but it’s been good. I haven’t felt this Alive (pun intended) in a long while.

NaNoWriMo is always kinda hard, though. You’re writing an entire novel in 30 days, for heaven’s sake! But it’s totally possible with a few key things to help you along the way:

GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE

Up ’til this year I’ve always novelled at home, but this year my fiancee and I have decided to get out as much as possible, and it’s helping SO MUCH.

I was always against the idea of novelling anywhere else, thinking it would be distracting or I’d feel too much pressure, but honestly, just finding a Starbucks and settling down with a caramel brulee frappucino and some good music in your earbuds is where it’s at, my friends. I wrote 2000 words in a McDonald’s yesterday, too. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything fancy, it just has to be somewhere outside of your house that you can sit down and focus.

CAFFEINE

I understand that caffeine isn’t for everyone, but for ME, caffeine is a lifesaver. Like I said earlier, I’m working 35-40 hours a week, which isn’t really that much, but it’s enough to make me want to come home and nap for eight hours, and then go to bed for another eight hours. (I guess the depression doesn’t help here, but that’s another story for another day!) So anyway, my caffeine consumption has at least DOUBLED since I started NaNo eleven days ago. Whoops.

SLEEP

On the other side of caffeine there is my other best friend: sleep. I already mentioned that it’s something I want to do far too much of, but human beings really do need to sleep to repair our bodies and refresh our minds, so during NaNoWriMo, allow yourself to get some sleep. I don’t know what your schedule is like, but try to make sure you’re getting at least 6 hours of sleep. I’d recommend more, but then I’d be a hypocrite.

HARD WORK

This is the one most people don’t like, but it’s important. The fact is, you won’t succeed in anything, especially not NaNoWriMo without putting the effort in. If you think participating in NaNo will be a cake walk, it won’t. But I promise you, it will be worth it in the end.

And this is not something you ‘need’ per se, but something you need to DO, rather: ditch your inner editor.

Of the 2000 words I wrote yesterday, I’ve already decided I’ll probably cut 1250 of them in editing later, but is that stopping me from continuing the story? No. Am I cutting those words out now? No. Because I still know where my story’s going, and I’m pretending those scenes/words don’t exist for now, and I still wrote those words, and they’ll be part of this story until the editing process, so I think it counts.

Because I’m working in Scrivener it’s really easy to just separate the scenes I don’t like and label them SEMI PERMANENT or [DELETE LATER] but if you’re working in Docs or Word or any other writing program that doesn’t separate your novel scene-by-scene, just use something to separate it for yourself like highlighting or [!]’s at the start and end of the paragraphs/scenes/whatever you want to delete and you can worry about it later.

If you get hung up on fixing and editing and tweaking right now, you won’t finish NaNoWriMo.

Anyway, that’s my ‘advice’ for finishing NaNoWriMo, do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments!

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s