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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

8 Tips on How to Survive NaNoWriMo Sane (Mostly) - #TipsTuesdays 11

When I was sitting down thinking about what topic to cover in this post it suddenly occurred to me the NaNo has just started and so I had to pick that. These are my tips on how to survive and thrive.

8 Tips on How to Survive NaNoWriMo Sane (Mostly)

So I have been doing NaNoWriMo for several years now since 2011 (my NaNo page beren_writes). What this insanity is, for those not in the know, is a whole host of writers coming together in a bid to each write 50,000 wrds of a novel in 30 days.

For some this is apparently incredibly easy, for others it looks like an impossible task. However, for the majority I think it's simply a challenge. I find it very good for focusing the mind on the task and finishing things I have been meaning to finish for a while. Which is why I do it.

Here are my tips for surviving November as sane as you went in:
  1. Pick something you really want to write.
    Last year was the first year I actually just went for something completely new that I hadn't been thinking about for a while and it didn't really work for me. I made it, but only just, and I didn't enjoy the challenge anywhere near as much. I also haven't touched the piece since because I ended up hating it. Some people like to go in completely fresh, but I find it is much better to go in with something that has been percolating in my brain for a while.
  2. Don't let yourself get behind.
    The NaNo site gives you a very handy daily word count to achieve and shows you how you are doing. Do your very best to reach this total every day. You can afford to miss a day here or there, but always make sure you make it up the next day. Seeing yourself behind is disheartening and can be the worst cause of lack of productivity in my experience.
  3. Make that cup of coffee first, close all your web browsers.
    When you are going to write remove possible distractions. Have your cup of coffee sitting there so you don't decide to go off an make one. Close all other windows on your computer so you don't end up starting mindlessly at your twitter client. Brains are unruly places so it's best not to give them options when you are trying to plot :).
  4. Don't force yourself to write from beginning to end if it isn't working.
    Sometimes you hit a spot in a story where writing words is like pulling teeth. If you need to, put in a little marker and skip it. It is always easier to fill in holes in a scene or chapter when you have the rest, than to bang your head against the keyboard at a really tough part. I never write a story from beginning to end anyway, but the principle holds at the smallest level of scenes as well as the top level of the whole thing.
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  6. Let the inspiration flow.
    You may have planned your novel completely and yet your characters are telling you they want to go on a side trip. Let them. NaNo is about writing. If you have to edit half of it out next month, don't worry, you never know what gem you might be producing that actually helps the plot.
  7. Listen to music or white noise while you write.
    Sound can keep that unruly part of your brain that's stopping you concentrating occupied while you work. I like music, but that's too intrusive for some people, so white noise type sounds work better. Some kind soul on Tumblr gathered a list of sites that can provide such noise here at this link. Experiment with what works best for you.
  8. Reward yourself.
    When you reach your daily word count, pat yourself on the back, give yourself a little reward. Eat the Ferrero Roche that has been taunting you all day. Make yourself the cup of hot chocolate you have been craving. Go and read that web site you've been avoiding while you write. Just do something to tell yourself, well done.
  9. Tell everyone who will listen how well you are doing.
    Use the word count widgets they give you, post to your blog, your LJ, your Tumblr, your Facebook and tell the world what you are achieving. Crow about your word count and wish other NaNo'ers luck. It will make you feel good and help you stay motivated.
If you are the new Enid Blyton then 50K words in a month is nothing, but for many people, such focused creativity on one output is very difficult. But don't be put off, it can be so very rewarding and fun as well. People go into NaNo every year who don't think they can do it and they pull it off.

Good luck one and all - YOU CAN DO IT!

Do you have any tips for focus and productivity?


  1. Interesting about a fresh idea not really working, I used to think that was the point of NaNo, but the point is to write 50,000 words. I won for the first time last year by continuing my trilogy, although I actually started that in NaNo too, so I guess it all depends on how much each story grabs you.

    1. I think sometimes people worry too much about what they are going to write :). Most of the books I have completed through NaNo have had something already started on them, usually no more than a thousand words or so, but enough so the idea is forming in my head, and I go from there, adding my 50K over the course of the month. That's why I have my own spreadsheet as well - to work out how many new words I have added before I put my count into the NaNo page :).


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