We're six days into NaNoWriMo and I hope everything is going well for those of you who are taking part in the challenge. Maybe you've been writing everyday, hitting your word count everyday, feeling confidant and powering through. If that's the case, maybe you don't need this article. But maybe, you're like me and some of my friends, barely stumbling to your goal each day, looking sight of what exactly your plot outline was and screaming "WHY GOD?" every time it takes you two hours to write 500 words.
I'm not going to pretend to be a NaNoWriMo expert at all. I've participated on and off for the last ten years. I've won some years and lost some years. Last year, I got to 10,000 and just stopped. I didn't have a reason to. I just stopped. But in the years I did win, I followed the tips below. Maybe they don't all work for you, or maybe they're what drives you to the finish line.
1. Write EVERY Day.
It doesn't matter if you hit the 1,667 word goal every day. If you fall short, you can make it up on another day. It's more important to get in the habit of writing every day. That's kind of the point of the challenge isn't it? Write every day for 30 days, doesn't matter the length of the writing, and you'll have habit that will last well past November.
2. Build Up A Word Bank
Let's say you're amazing and hit 1,667 words one day, but you're still feeling the buzz. Do you stop and watch Netflix or keep writing? Tough choice, I know. No one understands the call to the binge-watching more than me. But instead, try just writing an extra 200 words, or an extra 500 words. Now you have a safety net so you can end early one day or catch up easily if you fall short.
3. Back Up, Back Up, BACK UP
Everyone says this because it is one of the most important tips for any kind of writing, not just NaNoWriMo. Your trusty old desktop could go on the fritz for no good reason. There could be a power surge and your computer dies. Your dog could run around your kitchen table like an idiot, making your coffee cup topple on top of your keyboard and ruin your life. You can use Google Drive, purchase an external hard drive, email every day writing your yourself, or use Novlr, which saves everything you write into a cloud.
4. Don't Edit
Again, a common tip, but if you want to keep the motivation and excitement for your plot high, you need to stop editing. Don't go back and reread what you wrote the day before. Don't try to edit while you write. Don't think about what you're writing. Your first draft is never going to be perfect. Just get the words out there. You can edit in December. When you do, check out www.littleleafcopyediting.com (a great editing company and get a test reading for free!)
5. End On A "Cliff Hanger"
This is a fun trick to keep your drive up for the next day. Every day, end your writing on a "cliffhanger". It doesn't have to be a literal cliffhanger, please don't have that many cliffhangers in your novel... But end halfway through a thought or paragraph. End on a question, or end halfway through the sentence. That way, the next time you write, you'll remember where you were in your plot and you'll be excited to continue.
6. Start By Rewriting
Every day when you start writing, rewrite the last sentence or the last paragraph you wrote the day before. This is a great tip if you're too much of a perfectionist to stop halfway through a thought. You'll keep the tone similar to the day before and be motivated to keep writing.
Sit down and just focus on writing. Don't watch TV and write. Don't write and then flip to Facebook. Don't write in an environment where you'll be distracted. Focus on writing and nothing but writing. You'll get your word count quickly and have time to do the other things you have to do. I suggest using the Chrome Add-On Citrus. It lets you turn off certain websites without turning off the internet altogether (Because we all need it to spell check it. Don't Lie.).
8. Connect With The Community
9. Stick To A Schedule
Try writing at the same time every day. It should be a time that isn't dedicated to anything else. Where you'll be alone and without commitments. For example, I write every day as soon as I come home from my day job. It's an hour and a half of time I'm in my house alone and I can usually get close to my word goal every day.
10. Plan Ahead
Some people take this time to the extreme, meal planning, scheduling time for every activity and hiring housekeepers. It works well for them, but you don't need to go that far. But if you know you'll have a busy day coming up, write more words the day before. Know you're going to be traveling around Thanksgiving and entertaining family? Change your daily word goal to accommodate missing those few days so you don't feel stressed near the end of the month.
That's all I have! Hope some of these things help you get through your daily word count goal and reach December 1st with a full novel.