Monday, October 26, 2015

NaNoWriMo Survival Guide

This will be my last writing craft post leading into NaNoWriMo. Here is my advice to surviving November! Some of the tips are essential, others might not fit into your life right now. That's okay, pick and choose which ones work for you and use them.

Tip #1: Schedule, Schedule, Schedule (Essential Tip #1)

This is no joke. Set aside time every single day to write. I'm not a morning person, by a long shot. Yet I'm up every morning around 5:30. Usually I do my workouts right after I get my little guy in bed. This month I will be doing my workouts a bit earlier in the evening. That way I can use that later time to write. I still have to get to bed early to be able to function at 5:30am the next day.

And I'll be attempting to schedule extra writing time on the weekends to offset any possible loss in writing time during the week.

Tip #2: Enlist Your Family 

This is a big one. My family knows that when November comes around I need that quiet writing time. Which basically means I stick in my earbuds, turn on the music, tune everything out, and write like a crazy person.

Let them know what you're doing. Chances are, they will help you stay on track. Tell them you need time to write. Ask them to help give you that time. Ask them to keep you accountable.

Tip #3: The Mess Will Still Be There December 1st 

Seriously. Don't worry about all that mess piling up around you during November. It's not going anywhere. Schedule time at the first of December to take care of everything. If you have other adults in the house, they can either wait for you to return to your regularly scheduled life in December or they will get tired and take care of it themselves. lol 

Tip #4: Share Your Progress

Get on your social media and share your daily goals and your word counts. Remember to tag your posts (#NaNoWriMo or #NaNo or #NaNo2015). Other writers following those hashtags will keep you accountable and cheer you on. In fact, this is it a great way increase your writing network.

Follow writers on the NaNo site. As they update their word count you can see how everyone is doing. And as you update your totals, anyone who follows you will be able to see your progress. It's a great tool. Remember to make sure you have the correct region selected. That's another fun way to see how your region compares to others around the world. It's also fun to watch your graph climb to 50K over the thirty days. That's a huge motivator.

Tip #5: Do a Write-In

I've never gone to a write-in, but I plan on doing so this year. Or at least I'm hoping to. Here's the scoop on write-ins. A group of writers get together in one location and write non-stop during certain hours. No interruptions. No laundry staring at you. No phones ringing. Just pure writing time.

I'd love it if The Writing Barn would do a write-in or two. I'd definitely go there. But, I just joined The Writers' League of Texas, and word is they are hosting a bunch of write-ins around Austin during November. Also, NaNoWriMo has their own write-ins scheduled by region.

Tip #6: Keep a Steal Journal

Okay, so this is new for me. I usually like to keep one notebook per project. But, last week I went to see Austin Kleon speak at BookPeople about his new book, Steal Like An Artist Journal. If you haven't heard of him and his books, you really need to check him out. I've added his books to my Resources For Writers tab above.

Basically, drag around one journal, everywhere, all day, and write anything that interests you in any way. You never know what you're going to use, how you're going to use it, or when.

Tip #7: Keep a NaNo Journal

This is going to be me, in addition to the Steal Journal. Why? Because there will inevitably be times inspiration will hit you, or you have a few minutes to write, but you are not any where near your computer. For me, this will be lunch time. I'm sure I'll be found hiding in a corner, huddled over my notebook, jotting a few lines to type up later.

Tip #8: Forget Order! 

Some writers jump out of order when they write. I've had the urge to do this occasionally, but somehow every time I've tried this I get all sorts of mixed up with my momentum and can't go back to fill in the space between the scenes. If you need to, and can manage it, do it. Don't let yourself get into a rut and lose momentum entirely.

Tip #9: Go Off Track

don't worry if you have a detailed outline and your characters decide they need to go somewhere else entirely. That's part of the fun with NaNo. Follow your gut and your characters. Let them lead you. You might be surprised by what you learn about them and you. Plus, you can always edit it out after November 30th. 

Tip #10: Breathe (Essential Tip #2)

NaNo only last thirty days. It's doable. Trust me. Just remember to breath. Don't get worked up if you're behind. Calmly adjust your word count goals and get right back to writing. Thirty days goes quicker than you think. There isn't time to have panic attacks over word counts. Or worry about editing that sentence that doesn't feel right from day two. There certainly isn't time to freeze up and lose momentum. Keep going. Keep writing. Every. Day. You can do it. Even if you don't hit the 50,000 words by the end of the month, keep going and you'll have a really good start to a novel. You can keep going through December. While the challenge ends at midnight on November 30th, there is nothing stopping you from adding more words to your manuscript until you are done.

Note for November Blogging: During November I will still be blogging, but not about writing craft. It will be more of a check in style posting every Friday, or Saturday - I haven't decided yet. This is a way to let others see how I'm doing, keep myself accountable, and let other writers brag about their word counts in the comments below. I will be back to a regular writing craft blog in December. I also may be moving the postings to Saturday. It's a bit difficult to get to my personal computer and share the posts on Fridays. 

See you during NaNo.

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