Ways to Win at NaNoWriMo!
With NaNoWriMo starting in just a few days, I thought I would give some of the tips that have worked for me to win at NaNoWriMo.
For those of you who do not participate, we will be talking about something else next month. For those that do participate, how are you feeling as November 1st approaches?
My NaNo Journey
This year marks my sixth year of participating. And, I have won 4 of the last 5 years and hope to add another one. A couple of years felt relatively easy and others, oh, so difficult. Last year, my life was completely out of control and I couldn’t make it work. But now, things are much more stable and I am ready to do this.
Before I get to the tips, let’s talk about the “win” of NaNo. I keep putting it into quotations because winning doesn’t really mean getting a prize. Well, there are prizes but not quite the way you think.
Winning simply means you beat your inner critic, procrastination, writer’s block and everything else pushing at you to reach your goal. In November, the goal is to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. It is tough but it is so possible, and so worth it, even if it is to simply say “I wrote a novel” or “I won at NaNoWriMo.”
Your finished piece isn’t likely to be publication-ready but it gives you something to work from, after all, you can’t edit a blank page.
On to the tips:
I’ve used many of these tips in my quests to finish my novel. Some of these ideas are new but they make sense to me. I hope they help you win at NaNoWriMo.
1. Publicly commit – By announcing publicly your intention to write this novel, you are held accountable. If you haven’t, please sign up at NaNoWriMo.org and announce your novel – even if all you have is a spark of an idea.
2. Give yourself permission to suck – Anne Lamott used the term “shitty first draft” and that is what you are going for. NaNoWriMo is no place for perfection and it will only make you feel worse if you don’t succeed.
3. Write a brief synopsis – or a simple outline to give yourself a roadmap – Even if you prefer to ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ have an idea, something to help you to begin on November 1st. I promise it will help. And if you prefer to outline, make sure you leave yourself room for your characters to misbehave.
4. Know your protagonist – Have a name and something significant about them. Some people give advice on knowing your protagonist well, but I like to leave some room for discovery.
5. Know where you will be going the next time you write – Leave off where you know where to pick right back up the next day. It will same some time trying to decide where to begin.
6. Start writing – Begin and don’t stop until you reach your goal. To reach the goal of 50,000 words in 30 days, you must write 1667 words per day. If that is a lot, you can break it down:
– 420 words x 4 sessions = 1700 – This is great if you only have short amounts of time available to you.
– 500 x 500 x 700 = 1700 – Just three sessions and you can reach your goal.
– 850 x 850 = 1700 – A simple morning session and evening session. Maybe
7. Frontload your words – This particular tip has served me the best in each of the years I’ve worked at this goal. I’ve tried to set aside November 1st to devote the entire day with a daily goal of 5000 words. By doing this, if I have to skip a day, it doesn’t hurt quite so much. And if you are reaching the goal of 1667 words for the rest of the time – you’ve got this!
8. If you do miss a day – Don’t berate yourself. Just get back into it and make up your words.
9. Do not re-read what you’ve written – Move bravely forward. However, if you need to read your previous scene just to get your juices flowing, that is okay. But stopping and reading over everything you’ve written up until now can be problematic.
10. Final Word Count – Did you hit it?
Yes – Yay!!!! Celebrate it!
No – Keep going – finish your book. Celebrate the words you have written. Remember you are further ahead than you were a month ago. Remember, “there are no losers in NaNoWriMo.”
11. Remember: December is NaNoFixMo. You can always fix it later.
12. Build a writing habit – Sorry, this is a little late, but begin to create a writing habit before November. By writing a bit each day, you can be a bit more ready to finish that novel you’ve always started.
Don’t forget to check out my other posts about NaNoWriMo, especially this one. It will help you set up a project journal to keep all of the information straight. It’s not too late to create a journal for your novel. It will always be a work in progress.
Just begin and soon you will have your own “win” at NaNoWriMo.
Good luck with November.
Until next time,