The countdown has begun: less than 20 days to the first Camp NaNoWriMo session of 2014. Whether this is your first NaNo or your seventh, it’s going to be a challenging month. But there are ways to make it easier.
I’ve taken part in three NaNoWriMos and four Camp sessions now, but every time I NaNo, I learn something new. Here’s a collection of some of the tips, tricks and techniques I’ve picked up over the years to make NaNoWriMo more manageable for a frantic writer.
TIP 1: Set yourself a daily target that’s more than your minimum.
Take your overall word count target for the month and divide it by 30. That’s the minimum amount you should write each day to stay on track—but what happens if you fall behind, unforeseen circumstances impede your progress, or the dreaded Week 2 Blues bite your word count in the backside?
By aiming for slightly more than your daily minimum, particularly during that first week, when the Camp buzz is electric and the word sprints frantic, you’re buffered against those not-so-great days, when writing a single word is as awful as the sound of a book’s spine breaking.
If you’re aiming for 50k next month, try writing 2000 words a day rather than 1667 during the first week. If your word count target is higher or lower, 10,000 words or 999,999, push yourself to write that little bit more than the bare minimum—even if it’s only 100 words—and you’ll see the benefits later in the month.
TIP 2: Plan your writing time in advance.
NaNoWriMo is challenging enough without multiple other demands on your time as well. Where possible, try to clear out your schedule of non-essential tasks and dedicate that time to writing. When ditching a task isn’t an option, block out writing time around it instead.
Think about when you’re most productive. First thing on a morning? During your lunch break? On a night? Schedule writing time then, plus wherever you can fit it into your day. Once you’ve put aside time for writing, guard it fiercely. I recommend getting yourself a dragon to help with this job.
TIP 3: Take advantage of every opportunity to write.
You can’t plan for every eventuality and sometimes time becomes free that you hadn’t anticipated. Don’t waste it.
Your bus is running late? Whip out your notebook and scribble down some words. You’ve arrived early to your dentist appointment? Don’t sit in the waiting room reading leaflets on how to floss correctly. Your teeth might thank you for this but your word count won’t. Write. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes, it all adds up.
TIP 4: Carry a notebook with you everywhere.
For those glorious, unexpected moments when inspiration strikes or there’s an opening in your schedule, have a notebook handy. Pocket-sized ones are ideal.
TIP 5: Delete nothing.
Sometimes, when you’re splurging onto a page, it can be tempting to give in to that nagging voice of doubt, whispering all kinds of discouraging nonsense into your ear, and hit the backspace key. Please, resist.
When you’re caught up in the rush of NaNoWriMo, it’s easy to lose perspective on what you’ve written. You may think it’s terrible now, but in a few months’ time, you could look at it again and realise it’s nowhere near as bad as you feared. This has happened to me a lot.
Keep whatever you write and decide whether or not to cut it later, when you have a clear head. Until then, if you really don’t want to let those words wallow in your WIP, change the font colour to white so that you can’t see them or cut and paste them into a new document and label it ‘extras.’
Oh, and I suppose deleting nothing helps with your word count too ;)
TIP 6: Word sprint your way to victory.
Pumping out ‘x’ words a day, every day, for 30 days, can be exhausting, especially if the words are coming at a crawl. If you’re getting your daily goal finished within an hour or so though, it suddenly becomes much easier. And what better way to crank out words on the double than word sprinting?
Join us at @TheSprintShack for epic word battles all next month or check out our Upcoming Sprints and Notable Sprinters pages to find out when other word sprints are going down! It’s going to be an explosive month, that’s for sure.
If you want even more NaNoWriMo-related advice and motivation, check out our posts from last November’s NaNo! If the quality vs. quantity debate is on your mind, you want resources on hand should you fall behind on your word count, or you’d like tips to help you keep up your pace while sprinting, then this is the category for you.
Are you taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo 2014? What word count will you be aiming for?
And let’s not forget your next Story Shuffle prompt!
Character: a blind pianist
Setting: a café in Florence
Year/era: late 1700s
Item of interest: a mask that steals people’s faces
Ooh, what a story starter! I have a few ideas already. How about you?