NaNo Tips and Tricks

The image used I took over the coast of Florida.

Set Goals

No, you are (probably) not going to write 50,000 words in one day. (Although, every year there are a few people who get close.) Its easiest if you can set an identical goal for each day. Your first goal needs to involve the number of words you want to write per day. 1,700 is my usual goal, and would land me at 50,000 in 29 days.

However, you may not be able to write for an hour and a half everyday of the week. Maybe you (like me) absolutely cannot write on Wednesday. So you take the word count from Wednesday and distribute it across the rest of the week. I know someone who can only write on weekends. Well there are five Sundays and four Saturdays this November, nine days in total, which means you need almost 5600 words a day if you’re only writing twice per week. I recommend avoiding this if you can.

Hold Yourself Accountable

What do I mean by hold yourself accountable? I want you to do that one thing you don’t want to do. Yes. That one. Tell people what you’re doing. Make a pledge. Anything to publicly stand up (to as many or as few people as you want) and say “This is what I am going to do.” You can even print and sign creator Chris Batty’s pledge.

You could make a post on your social media, twitter, facebook, your blog, etc. For twitter users you could add a twibbon, a stamp on your profile picture with the NaNo crest. While these are not (to my understanding) official, here and here are two great twibbons to add.

Write Outside Your Home

I know its tempting to stay in your house for a month and do nothing but write, but the truth of the matter is, you won’t get much done. When you’re at home theres always a need to do things. Laundry, dishes, and cleaning are all things that need done of course, but if you’re constantly letting them distract you, you’ll never finish your 50,000. So find somewhere else to go. Maybe you have an awesome friend who will let you invade their spare room a few nights a week, or try visiting your local library. Starbucks and Panera are two great options if you’re a bit hungry (but don’t forget the main reason you’re there).

Take Advantage of Local NaNo Chapters

Most areas, particularly cities, have NaNoWriMo communities of their own that often feature ‘write-ins’ at libraries, Paneras, and malls. Write ins are exactly what they sound like, a large group of people getting together with their computers – and occasionally notebooks – to write for a few hours. Usually theres no rule for how long to stay or how much to write. They also often have their own version of the Night of Writing Dangerously (more later) and forums (more later).

Use NaNo’s Website to Your Advantage

NaNo has many useful things on their site. You can friend people, which gives you competition and motivation (friend me here). Get inspired, prepare, spread the word (useful for holding yourself accountable), and use their word count helpers. Their site is designed to help you, and to teach you how to succeed at your novel. Possibly the most useful is the forums, which I’ve given their own section.

Remember not to get too terribly caught up in your noveling, and update the stats on your page when ever you make a huge word count gain.

Visit the NaNo Forums 

The forums on NaNo’s website are a wonderful source of encouragement and inspiration. The forums themselves are divided into sections by what they’re about, including, Official Stuff, Tips and Strategies, Life During Nano, Support, Genre Lounges, Off Topic, I Write A Novel Now What, and many others. Each of these sections have subsections of their own, where the forums are hosted. Your region may even have its own sections.Start in the NaNo Prep section, then look around some. My favorites include Character Cafe, Wordbuilding, and The Adoption Society.

Note to the wise: do not spend all your time in the forums, else you’ll never get anything written. I use the forums for simple things, like curing writer’s block, or skimming before NaNo starts.

Enter into NaNo Events

Things like ‘The Night of Writing Dangerously‘ are things NaNo runs that you can join from anywhere. Often local groups have their own get-togethers for this event. There are also spontaneous word count sprints, and other fun things.

Have fun!

Remember, the point of NaNo is to have fun and do something completely mad. Its not the end of the world if you don’t succeed. You’ve tried, and thats what matters in the end.

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