For those of you just tuning in, November is the National Novel Writing Month, and if you were thinking about participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I have some pretty good tips on how to prepare yourself for success.
I have no small amount of knowledge of NaNoWriMo, because for about three years, I participated in every November NaNoWriMo and every Camp NaNoWriMo available. I even became a Municipal Liason. After 10+ sessions, I have won some and I have lost some, so I am very well-rounded in what works and what doesn’t.
If you haven’t done it before, the challenge is to start a brand new novel on November 1st, and make 50,000 words by the end of November. This is a huge benefit for authors who either cannot stop editing their every word, or have not figured out how to make their writing a daily habit. I have taken a break from doing NaNo in the last few years while I work on my backlog of partially completed manuscripts, but I still love the challenge and the sheer audacity of trying to write over 1600 words per day. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.
Let me go over three tips that will help you be successful in doing NaNoWriMo this year.
My Unique Tip: Clean your house and office space. You are going to have to put a lot on hold if you want to pull off 50,000 words in a month, including scrubbing your kitchen counters. I know, it’s a tragedy. But you’ll feel less guilt over it if you’ve given your space a thorough cleaning before hand, and it won’t be as overwhelming to come back to after a month of putting it off.
The more extensively you clean your space before November, the less stress it will be for you. Trust me, once the dishes begin to pile up in your sink, you’re gonna wanna take a day off of your writing to get back on top of them, but you simply cannot afford to miss a day if you want to win NaNo this year, so do yourself a favor and get everything that you can done and put away before November.
As a reminder, anything that you can declutter, organize, and straighten before November 1st is going to help. Why, you ask? Because if you could conceivably procrastinate the moment the writing gets tough by painting that wall you’ve been meaning to paint or cleaning out your shed before it snows, you will. So finish any unfinished tasks and projects before you start.
My Go-To Tip: Have your manuscript’s notes, photos, outlines, character sheets, and whatever other pertinent information in a handy place at all times. Searching your computer+flash drive+notebooks+hard copies for that thing you just KNOW is there, somewhere… that’s a waste of your limited time.
Additionally, you can write at the drop of a dime if you just carry that binder around with you, or have everything backed up to the cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox, et cetera). You can seriously get in 500 words on your phone while you’re waiting for your bestie to meet you at the coffee shop, so don’t downplay the importance of being ready to write your next scene whenever possible.
I highly recommend having what you need for your next scene on you at all times. Remember that you don’t have to do 1667 words per day all in one chunk or one session, but you can get those words in, 200 at a time, throughout little pockets of your day.
My Pro Tip: Always know what you will be writing in your next session. Whether you jot down a few notes after the writing day is over, or have to do more research before you can write the next scene, or have to completely brainstorm what comes next, you always want to do that work before you have to write the next day. Do the research on that castle layout, the city street, the history you need before you even need it. Trust me, you’ll thank me for this once you’ve won NaNoWriMo.
Put the next chapter or the next few scenes on a sticky note and stick it to the back of your phone, or get a tiny notepad and write it on there so you have it with you in your purse or pocket all day. Have your outline and your Work In Progress saved in the cloud. Have all the relevant research for that chapter handy too. You do not want to spend time searching the internet for an answer, or trying to figure out what color hair your character is supposed to have. Know what you need to write before you write it, and have it with you in whatever form makes sense.
So that’s it. What are your tips for completing NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments below!