7 Tips for Surviving NaNoWriMo, by Jess Gately

Are you ready? Tomorrow is November 1st and the beginning of NaNoWriMo! If you haven’t already, I sincerely suggest you head on over to our first NaNo post, Pantser or Planner, Top Tips for Preparing for NaNoWriMo, to get some tips on preparing for the month ahead. First, a recap, because there’s some stuff in there that really will help you survive this month:

  1. Plan your time accordingly
  2. Join the NaNoWriMo community
  3. Prepare your writing space
  4. Tell your friends and family
  5. Get your ideas ready

For the full breakdown head there first and then come back to this page. In this post we’re discussing the things you should and shouldn’t do this month to ensure you survive the rollercoaster of emotions coming your way. We’ve got writing tricks and life tips to help you succeed.

So here’s a few things to remember:

  1. It doesn’t have to be perfect

Whatever you do this month, don’t go back! Don’t go back and reread. Don’t go back and edit. Don’t go back and change anything. Even if you decide half way through you want to change your character’s hair colour, or name, or the date, just make a note of it somewhere and keep going. You can go back and edit in December. November is all about writing!

And if you don’t feel your words are flowing properly, don’t worry about it. Don’t let how it sounds stop you. Embrace imperfection and remember that every novel you’ve ever read started off as a crappy first draft as the author tried to figure out how this story was going to work.

  1. If you have a productive day, keep going!

Some days are going to be easier than others. One day you’ll sit down and smash out that word count easily, others will feel like a drag. If you’re having a good day, keep going for as long as you can and allow yourself the wriggle room for those days that are feeling a bit harder.

  1. It takes discipline

Get your bum out of bed my friend. Those words won’t write themselves. If you’ve read the first post about preparing for NaNoWriMo then you’ve probably already looked at the routine that best suits your writing. Now it’s time to make it work. No excuses. No procrastination. This is your month to make it happen.

  1. Break Down the Goal

There’s actually two parts to this. The first is in the word count. 50,000 words seems like a lot, but if you break it down per day it’s only 1667 words. A little over 5 typed pages. That number feels much more achievable. Focus on the daily word count if it makes you feel better.

BUT

More importantly: what is the real goal here? It’s not 50,000 words. It’s about you telling your story! So when you’re having a rough day and you’re struggling to focus and you feel a little lost, just remember the real goal here is to get your story onto paper. Ignore the word count and just think about your story.

  1. Change medium

If you’ ideas are all there but you’re struggling to find the right words then try a change in medium. If you normally type on a computer, consider changing to pen and paper. Or dictate the story into a voice recording. While it means you’ll have to go back and type it up later, at least you’re getting the words out.

This also gives you the opportunity to move around without the constraint of a power source. You can now try writing on the beach or in a park or somewhere else that inspires you.

  1. Join a Write-In

It’s nice to be surrounded by other people with the same goal as you and it’s also a great way to get out of your house in November. My most productive days during NaNoWriMo have been at Write-In’s. You meet new people and together you can celebrate your achievements.

  1. Be Kind to Yourself

If it’s really not happening for you this month, that’s ok! Do as much as you can and accept that this is just not the right time for you. If you keep pushing at a time that’s too busy and you’re stressing yourself out, then NaNoWriMo is doing more harm than good and we don’t want that.

Reset your goals. Even if you can’t make 50,000 words, keep writing every day even if it’s just for 10 minutes and you only get a couple of hundred words down. After all, the real goal here is to get your story onto paper.

You’ve got a big month ahead so get ready and have fun! Our fingers are crossed for you and we’re cheering you all the way. We’ll be touching base throughout the month to see how you’re getting on so don’t forget to join our mailing list for more survival advice as the month goes on.

Happy writing!

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