Thursday, October 31, 2019

NaNoWriMo Tips

There were no new questions for O'Abby this week, so on NaNo Eve, I thought I'd offer a few things about doing NaNo I've learned over the years.  I've done it several times and while I haven't won every year,  I think my ratio of finishing to not finishing is pretty high.

This year the timing works really well because November 1 is a Friday.  That means you have the weekend to really kick off your project.  I always like to try and get ahead on word count at the beginning of the month, while you're fresh and the idea for your book is bright and shiny in your head.  And with the start of the month coinciding with the weekend, you're likely going to have a chance to get a few extra hours writing time in.

So use them.  Try and get at least 5K written over the weekend, more if you can.  That word count buffer will come in handy if something happens during the month and you're forced to miss a few days or if your writing time during the week is more limited and you think you might only manage 1,000 words a day.

Plan your time.  If you have regular commitments that are going to eat into your regular writing time, see if you can carve out some other time to write.  Use your lunch breaks at work, maybe.  Or your commute, if you use public transport.  It's amazing how much you can get done in tiny scraps of time.  500 words here, another 700 there and before you know it, you've made your daily word count.  Don't feel you have to find 90 minutes of uninterrupted time each day to do this.

Don't panic if you fall behind.  It happens.  Life can get in the way of even the best laid plans.  If you get behind, figure out where you can catch up.  Maybe an extra hour's writing time over the weekend will do it.  Or getting up a little earlier and writing before you really start your day.  Whatever works for you.  Personally, I know I'm going to struggle to get much done during the week the next couple of weeks, because I'm just wrapping up a major project at work.  So my plan is to take a few days off once I've finished that, so I can devote those days to writing.  But that might not be possible for you, so figure out what is, and make it work for you.

Don't worry about the details.  NaNo writing is fast writing.  You're doing it to spill that story out onto the page, not to create a polished masterpiece.  That comes later.  Right now, don't worry about repeated words, awkward sentences or getting the details of how something works wrong.  Just write your story.  If you find yourself questioning something and are tempted to Google, just write yourself a note in the manuscript so when you go back to re-read what you've written, you're reminded you needed to look up how long it would take to get from London to Edinburgh on horseback in 1865.  I like to leave those notes in another color so they stand out to me later.

The same if you realize you got something wrong earlier in the story and need to change it to make the rest of the book make sense.  Write a note at the point you realized this and remind yourself to go back and change that thing later.  NaNo is not to write a final draft.  I don't even call my NaNo drafts first drafts.  They're vomit drafts or zero drafts.  What you work with later to create an actual first draft.

And finally, it doesn't actually matter if you don't hit 50K.  Why matters is you tried.  You got some words on the page and just because November ends and your novel is only 34K, it doesn't mean you failed.  You have the beginning of your book there, and all you need to do is keep writing.  Maybe in another 30 days you'll have 60K.  And in another, a finished book.

So good luck!  Happy writing!  And if you need a buddy to cheer you on, you'll find me on the NaNo site as Vampyr14.

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