It’s that time again. The leaves are changing, the days are getting cooler, and it’s almost time for Nanowrimo. I love fall. It’s my favorite time of year, and Nanowrimo is one of the many reasons why (pumpkin lattes is another). So even though it’s a little early, I thought I’d give away some of my tried and true tips to win at Nanowrimo. Some of these might be repeats for any Nanowrimo veterans out there, but I found them all useful over the five years I’ve been doing Nanowrimo.
Do everything you can to create time in November. Clean, cook, do your shopping, pay bills, write and schedule blog posts. Anything that needs to be done and can be accomplished before November. If you can even save yourself one hour with your prep work, that could give you time to write a few hundred more words.
Prepare any character charts or plot summaries you'll need. I’m a pantser so I don’t plot much, but I will do character charts and possibly a brief outline of where I see the story going.
Stop writing. I never write in October. I spend October revising. I let all those creative juices marinate so that when November comes I’m desperate to write, and ready to do a lot of it.
In November –
Sneak in an extra day. Now, I’m not suggesting you break the rules. What I do every year is write at midnight, just as October 31st turns into November 1st. Even if you can only get a few hundred words, it feels great to wake up on November 1st and already have some words towards your goal. It’s the best way to start off Nanowrimo with a bang.
Save time by batching your work. Things like making lunches, doing dish, cooking, paying bills. It will save you time to do multiple days or a month's worth of these things all at once, instead of multiple occasions throughout November. I will measure out all my lunches for a week at once, saving me a few minutes of getting out the supplies and doing the chore every morning. Same with paying bills, I won’t have to find the checkbook and pen or go to the post office more than once in November. These changes may only save you a few minutes, but in Nano even a few minutes count.
Prioritize your time. Make Nanowrimo your focus for the month. Certain things always have to get done, your kids or husband will always need your attention, chores will always come up, but take this month to focus on yourself and what you want…to write a novel. Try to say no to anything you don’t need to do, like run the school bake sale or host the work happy hour. If you can, take a few days off and head out to a coffee shop or Panera to write and focus on what you love to do. I take at least two half days every Nanowrimo to spend the time writing in my local Barnes and Noble.
Make a list of everything you have to do. And I mean everything. No matter how small or mundane it might seem. This will make sure nothing is forgotten, and your attention is never divided from your story to other tasks, such as work, chores, family life, etc…
Find a friend to sprint with. I find sprinting to be very useful during Nanowrimo. If you can find a friend to sprint with it can help to push you harder than you'd push yourself. You can also join nanowordsprints on twitter for a community of sprinters.
Keep track of your daily progress, either with an app (I have one called WriMoDemon on my iphone that’s free and fun), word counters or a spreadsheets. Seeing how far you’ve come can be very motivating and can keep you moving forward.
Break your project into tiny goals. I break my Nanowrimo goal down into 100 word increments. It gives me a constant sense of accomplishment, each time I get to check one section off my list, and keeps me writing more. It can seem a lot easier to put in an extra ten minutes to get to the next 100 mark, oppose to the next 500 or 1000 mark. In Nanowrimo every 100 words count.
These are my tips for Nanowrimo. I hope you’ve found a few that will help you make your goal of writing a novel in a month. In just a few weeks I’ll be writing right along side you, striving towards that finish line. I wish you all good luck!