This year I’ve been saying is my year for NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month for those of you out of the loop. I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo for years and have never achieved the goal of 50K words, but I’m hoping this year is different, unfortunately, the past 3 days I haven’t had a chance to write anything at all! Well, I mean, I did write 8 blog posts this week, and 6,000 words on my NaNoWriMo project, so I’ll consider that a writing win for me, because that was a ton of work!
If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, you may be looking for a bit of guidance. How do people do it? How does everyone find the focus they need? How are these crazy people writing a 50K novel in just one day?! Ok, I’m still floored by the dedication of those who have completed NaNoWriMo in just one day, but I’m sticking with the one month challenge, and that’s probably where you are too. So, in yet another procrastination technique I’m presenting you with a NaNoWriMo Survival Guide.
NaNoWriMo Survival Guide
There are some basic guidelines to help you along with NaNoWriMo that everyone seems to know, such as during NaNoWriMo drop your internal editor and write, write, write! December is the perfect time to start editing. NaNoWriMo is all about quantity, instead of quality. It’s a great time to work on building a writing habit.
These are a few of my own survival guide points.
1: Reduce Distractions. I know this is easier said than done, but if you can manage, it does help. Many people for NaNoWriMo head out of the house to a coffee shop or library just so they can get a bit of peace. Others decide to stay home and lock themselves in a bedroom or office with a sign on a door warning of the NaNoWriMo month to keep friends and family at bay. For me, I sit in the middle of it all with my big ol’ earphones on to help keep me focused. The trick is to know what works for you. If one way isn’t working, try another.
2: Plan Snacks. One of my favorite things to do in October and through November is read some of the many forum threads about what snacks everyone is eating during NaNoWriMo. The snack announcements are everything from stocking up on fruit and veggies, to creating Toffee Crack (a NaNoWriMo favorite consisting of saltine crackers and homemade toffee, combined, and enjoyed by many. Including me!). Some people are inspired to write to certain flavors, while others find that they stay more focused when they have specific snacks within reach. I’m all about having a giant bowl of lightly buttered popcorn or kettle corn around here.
3: Beverages. If you’re going to have snacks at the ready, you better have drinks. Everyone has a different favorite beverage, for me I prefer to keep the pantry and fridge stocked with a variety of beverages to appease my need for variety. Consider the drinks you like to have by your side when you’re trying to focus. Are you a water drinker? Coffee? Tea? Soda? Lemonade? If you’re 21+, what about alcohol? Currently, I’m writing this with some hot chocolate by my side. There’s just something about whipped cream on a drink when I’m writing that keeps me moving.
4: Create Your Writing Plan: Whether you’re a planner or a pantser you’re going to want at least some form of a plan, even if that plan is “I’m going to sit down and write and see where it leads me.” It may not be much, but it’s a plan. Some people plan out the outline of their story, the plot, character backgrounds, draw out maps, and many even create book covers to keep their eye on the prize. Others have a rough idea of what they want to do and take off from there. Take some time before you start to figure out what approach you want to take, then go with that.
5: Find a NaNoWriMo Network. If you love to talk to people in person, find some local NaNoWriMo meet ups with other people in your area. If you’re more of the stay at home type, see about finding some online NaNoWriMo groups. Either way, having a support network to cheer you on, inspire you, help you out of your writers block, or just give you a break with some fun, nonsensical conversation, having a group of likeminded writers really can help remind you that no matter how crazy everyone else thinks this NaNoWriMo challenge is, at least you know there are a lot of other people joining you in the journey.
6: Set Your Own NaNoWriMo Goal. I know the base NaNoWriMo goal is to write a 50K novel in one month. Maybe you’re not ready to do that, so instead you jump in and say I”ll write a 20K novel in one month. Or, if you’re a poet, maybe you say I’ll write the foundation for one epic poem, or maybe I’ll write five different poems every day. The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that it is a personal challenge. You’re not competing against anyone but yourself. Decide what it is you want to accomplish and go from there.
Now that you have some pointers for a Survival Guide, some people decide to create a NaNoWriMo Survival Kit. Here are some things you might include in yours.
- Notebooks or journals.
- Pens and pencils.
- Water bottles.
- Tea, coffee, or other drinks.
- Candles (to set a writing mood)
- Essential oils (also to set that writing mood)
- Music, CD’s, playlists, Pandora
- Writing resources bookmarked.
- Pinterest boards with character and setting inspiration.
- Any other supplies you personally would love to have in your NaNoWriMo Survival Kit
What tips do you have for surviving NaNoWriMo? Share your secrets in the comments below!