NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, is an event where writers from around the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in just one month.
As you can imagine, it’s a challenging task. And as with all challenges it’s great to have some advice, and tips and tricks.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo for almost 5 years (although it’s only been 1 year of officially doing it through the website), so I’ve picked up some strategies that’ll help you get through the month in one piece.
One of the most important things to do to avoid falling behind on daily word goals is to get ahead. Doing so will allow you some reprieve if you need to take a few days off, and so the sooner you can go above your minimum word goal the better.
Here are a few ways to do so:
1. Start with a bang. Try to do as much writing as you possibly can on the first day of NaNoWriMo. I used to do this by staying up until midnight, then as soon as the clock changes to Nov 1st 00:00, I would begin writing until I was about ready to pass out from exhaustion. Then I would go to sleep, wake up later in the day, and write some more. Doing this felt like splitting my day into two parts, so I would usually get around twice as much writing done as I needed to.
2. Raise up your daily minimum goal. If you’re aiming for 50k by the end of the month, then you only need to write an average of 1667 words per day. But if you raise that up to an average of 2000 words per day, then you can take 5 days off from writing, without any hassle.
3. Schedule a few days during the month where you write for the entire day, or almost the entire day. I like to schedule these ahead of time, so that I can make sure that everyone is clear that those days I will be very busy writing. Then I do a ton of word sprints and try to beat my record for most amount of words written in a day.
If you find that you’re falling behind on your word goals, then it’s important for you to catch up before the end of the month. Scrambling to increase your word count on the last two days of NaNo is pretty stressful, so here are a few ways you can catch up to your target word count:
1. Try to beat your ‘Wordliest Day’ record. Even if you don’t succeed in beating your record, it’s still a great challenge that will help you increase your word count. Plus if you do beat it, it’ll give you a new challenge to beat next time you want to try it again.
2. Be a NaNoWriMo Rebel. If you want to, it’s okay to be a NaNo rebel and include your word counts from planning your novels, or other similar works.
3. Rewrite or make revision notes. If you find you’re feeling stuck, try reworking some scenes (but don’t erase them, leave them in the document, and just rework them in a separate area). Or make some notes on what you want to change/add/remove during revision. Not only is this helpful if you’re planning on revising your work after, those notes and reworked scenes can help boost your word count.
It can feel difficult to meet your target word count if writing takes you a long time. Here are some tips to make the words go by a bit more quickly:
1. Don’t research when writing. If you need to know a fact for your writing, don’t stop writing to go look it up. That’s a great way to spend half the day going through various web pages. Instead, write down ‘TK’ and move on. TK shows up in only a few English words, so once you’re editing, you can just search your document for the letters ‘TK’ and replace it with the fact that you’ve researched.
2. Don’t use the backspace. Even if you make a typo, don’t use your backspace button, just rewrite the word if you need to. The same goes for editing. If you feel the need to edit or change something, rewrite it, don’t delete it.
3. Don’t read what you’re writing. Reading what you’re writing slows you down, and will make you get caught up in spelling, sentence structure, and word choice. Either set the font color to your background color, use a program that doesn’t show you what you type, or learn to type with your eyes closed.
Here are some of my blog posts that may help you succeed with NaNoWriMo.
A variety of methods for coming up with and writing down story ideas:
No Idea, No Story – How to Come Up with Story Ideas
How to Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into Something Tangible
And I’ll be publishing more blog posts for NaNoWriMo during November. Wednesdays are when I publish, so check back next week for some new content.