Tomorrow is going to be a scary start to November. Personally, it’s because I’ll be amping up my 500-words-a-day goal to about 1600 words a day. Bis später, free time. ‘Tis the NaNoWriMo season, and lots of people are gonna write the crap out of their novels.
I gave a presentation at work about NaNoWriMo (I know, pretty sick) and I wanted to share what motivational tips I can to show you why at least participating in NaNo is worth the stress during one of the most stressful months of the year (especially for students) and how you can get the most out of this goal.
Know Your Reward
If writing like a fiend every day doesn’t fit into your normal schedule, what kind of rewards or accomplishments would make the sweat and tears worth it? Here’s just a short list of what there is to be earned through being a NaNo participant—especially if you win:
- Multiple platforms to self publish (e-books and print).
- Free self-help e-books from NaNoWriMo on what to do with the manuscript.
- Scrivener and other computer programs for writing are 50% off.
- 50,000 words you didn’t have before.
I personally believe that you have to pick something that is worth striving for to really make it; know what is most important to you and go and achieve that thing. For example, my goal is to either reach the 50,000 crossing line or finish the novel, Speechless—whichever comes first. The complete manuscript is what I want. What do you want? Remember that you get to determine what you consider your achievement to be—and remember that the only person you should aim to please is yourself.
Have a Writing Buddy
You can’t go in there alone if you want to make it out alive. Find your Sam to your Frodo, people.
True story: last year, I got sick during the first week of NaNo. The first week. It was a struggle. Because I didn’t write during that time, it meant that I was always behind for the rest of the month. I was able to pace myself, but I know that I would’ve given up too early had I not had enough people asking me about the goal, as well as my now-husband who actually made sure I was writing.
The purpose of writing with others is to remind you that your idea for a novel is awesome! Halfway through, you might question whether or not the idea is good enough to finish or why you bothered in the first place. For me, if I know someone else believes in my work, it makes it easier to overcome these feelings of self-doubt.
If you find a writing buddy, come up with a time each day or at least once a week where you can sit and write together. When possible, support each other’s accomplishments—either with public shoutouts or delicious snacks.
If you want a lot of support online, you can definitely count Travis and me in. You can find Travis and Whitney on NaNoWriMo. Add us as writing friends! We’re always interested in hearing what others are up to.
A writing buddy will ultimately make this month more fun, and at minimum—survivable.
Just Write the Dang 50,000 Words
If you read our last post, then you’ll know there’s some merit to flash fiction, or simply writing on a timer. You can follow @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter to get official sprints. They’ll announce the beginning and end of a sprint. You’ll be surprised at how many decent words can arise from 30 minutes of writing and only writing.
If you need some kind of structure, meet up with your regional group. Travis and I went to a few group meetings at our local library. It was a great environment to just write and get it done.
This is also a time where you’re not allowed to edit. Please, just don’t do it to yourself. Heavy words from an editor, I know. If it helps, just write things in a block of text and quickly fix it up it once you’ve hit your daily word count.
Please also take care to BACK UP YOUR PRECIOUS PRECIOUS NOVEL. A coworker shared the ultimate horror story during my presentation: all of his writing was on his laptop and it was stolen from his car during the challenge. The project and years’ worth of writing were lost in an instant and he couldn’t bring himself to write for quite some time. That’s a burden that no one should bear.
Also remember to just pace yourself with a calendar or manageable daily goal to get you gradually there.
Hopefully, this helps you grin and bear your November writing goals. This post was just as much for us as it is for you. We hope that you do well this month—whether you NaNo it up or not. What suggestions would you have for first-time participants? What are your goals for this month?
10 comments on “To NaNo or Not to NaNo? How to Do the NaNo”
“Self-respect.” Especially important for writers who have never finished writing a book before!
This is an great post, and I know WE CAN DO IT. Happy writing month!
Woo hoo! We can offer an Amen to that comment. What are you working on, P.S. Hoffman?
A science fiction novel dealing with the various cultures of the future!
I am afraid to say more (who knows how much it will change over the next month?!)
My goal is 2500 words a day. I will most likely fall much shorter than that, but I figure it’s better to aim high and let the arrow fall, yeah?
What are YOU going to work on this lovely November, Whitney?
I’m patching together my novel, Speechless. Last year, I wrote a pretty solid first couple of chapters, some middle chapters, and some end chapters. Now it’s time to stitch them all together. It’s a story based off of H.C. Andersen’s tale Wild Swans but modernized. The appeal is that the main character learns sign language. I personally don’t know ASL, but I’m intrigued by it.
How do you manage to do 2500 words a day? If you can do that, more power to you!
I’ve only done it a few times. I usually blame all the other work I have to do, but I recently read a post —
Actually, there are some links in my post, including my thoughts on a scientific approach to writing: http://pshoffman.com/2014/10/18/10000-words-a-day-or-how-to-use-science-to-write-more-better/
When I read her process for hitting 10,000 words a day, my life as a writer changed. So my goal is to start pushing myself. And what better time to start than November?!
No kidding! Once you realize that you can actually hit that goal every day, what’s keeping you back from hitting that goal all the time? Good luck with the word count.
Know your reward, cannot stress that enough! Good advice! I did NaNoWriMo last year and I’m currently finishing up my novel and about to self-publish it.
Awesome! We’re finishing up projects, too. Personally, mine will have to go through some revisions before they get published. How are you going about self-publishing? Have you done that before?
No I haven’t. Man, it is SO MUCH WORK! I’m putting together a media kit, trying to organize a goodreads campaign and giveaway, draft up promotional updates…all while trying to finish my last draft before sending to my editor.
I plan on enrolling in Kindle Select when my book first becomes available. The program seems interesting enough.
Good luck on your writing!
It sounds like you’ve at least got a game plan—I feel like I can’t think about publishing until I *have* something to publish. Going through Goodreads sounds like a great idea. Travis has done a couple of reviews for books—that’s a pretty great way to give out some copies and get some decent support for your work.