Today I’m linking up with Sky and Ashley for A Novel Idea.
This week’s prompt: What is your best advice for NaNoWriMo?
But only one piece of advice? Oh no. We like lists here.
1) Tell other people.
This is my best piece of advice. If you do nothing else on this list, you should do this one. Writers and introversion often go together. I know this and understand it. It’s sometimes easier to lose yourself in your own world rather than finding a voice in this one. But for NaNo, you should tell at least one other person about your plans and, if you feel comfortable, your story. If possible, post it on social media (I find Twitter to be particularly supportive of Wrimos). This will make your commitment feel real, and might help you keep you accountable. And when you’re facing hardships in your writing throughout the month, you’ll have someone to turn to.
And the best thing about NaNo? You’re not alone. The community is awesome! And if you want to meet others but not be tied to your identity, make a Twitter account just for NaNo (like I did)!
2) Write every day.
This can be hard, especially if you have work/school/family/etc. There’s always something that you will have to do. But from my experience, it’s really hard to catch up if I miss a day of writing. So even if you don’t make it to your daily goal, try to write at least something (even if it’s on a napkin as you wait for your dinner).
3) Try word sprints (especially if you’re stumped).
I’ve followed NaNoSprints on Twitter the past few years and it’s really helped me get through some rough patches. It sounds odd, but if you’re facing a block or are just struggling to get words down, I highly recommend trying a sprint. (If you don’t know, a word sprint is basically writing as much as you can within a certaint time limit.) Best of all, the NaNoWriMo website has just added a built-in feature for word sprints. With prompts!
4) Use various platforms.
It’s easy to write in Word because you can save it to a jump drive and take it literally everywhere. I get that. But my writing was never more fun than after I started using Scrivener. It’s pretty user-friendly and can do as much or as little as you want it to. I also inevitably end up writing by hand some days, either because I’m at a birthday party or having computer problems or waiting for a meeting to start. I find that whenever I switch up my platform every now and then, I am able to write more during that session. I don’t know why, and it might not be like that for others, but it’s a trick that works for me and is worth trying.
5) Choose a system for names.
Some people like naming characters. Some people do it well. I’m not one of those people. It’s always a struggle for me. For my last NaNo project, I decided to name all of my characters and places after towns in Missouri. And you know what? It was really, really effective. It made the process a thousand times easier and faster, and eliminated having to go to baby naming websites and looking up meanings and whatnot. (Another awesome thing about Scrivener–it has a random name generator!!)
6) Prepare beforehand.
I’m not talking about plotting–though you may want to do that, too. I’m talking about doing little things that will get you excited for NaNo. Whether it’s a design attempt for your cover, creating or downloading a special calendar for your desktop background, stocking up on chocolate, creating a playlist, or drawing a timeline on the wall with yarn and post-its, do little things that will get you prepared and pumped. I think of it as “nesting.” (And it’s a productive alternative if you’re having trouble plotting.)
7) Write the scenes you want.
Don’t feel that you have to go in order or follow your plot. If you have a random scene playing over and over in your head, write it down–even if you don’t know where it belongs. Embrace spontaneity. Chase inspiration. (The last few NaNos, I’ve added in impromptu characters and backstories at a moment’s notice and those always end up being my favorite and the easiest things to write.)
8) Commit to a time frame.
Last year, I almost gave up after week three. It was really close to the end, but I was behind and felt like I had a thousand other things to do for school. But instead of quitting, I decided to just dedicate an hour to writing every day. Just one hour. If I didn’t make my word count, than that’s okay–at least I was still writing. And you know what? It worked. I caught up, and I passed the finish line with just over 50,000 words.
That time frame might not work for you; that’s okay. Your schedule is different than mine. But I recommend setting aside at least some time to write. It could be 15 minutes. It could be getting up a little bit early in the morning. Whatever works for you.
9) Reward yourself.
I’m not just talking about Thank-God-It’s-Over parties. I mean to give yourself small rewards along the way. If you meet your word count for the day, you earn time to watch an episode of your favorite TV show. If you write 500 words, you earn chocolate. Last year, I rewarded myself with reading a chapter of Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On if I met my word count for the day, which was pretty good motivation for me.
10) Remember other things you love.
Even though you’re going to spend a chunk of time and effort writing, it doesn’t mean ignoring other things you love to do. If possible, make time to also read the books you want, watch the shows you want, catch a movie with a friend, talk to others, cook, etc. Those things are important. And as a plus, you can usually draw something from them for your story. That time isn’t wasted; every conversation matters.
So tell me: What’s your best advice for NaNoWriMo?
currently listening to: Alive by Sia