Thursday, 28 October 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010 - How to Make It To the End Line?

Here is a list of my tips to survive NaNoWriMo when you still have life beside writing. I do NaNoWriMo alongside my day job, so believe me, it's not all sitting at home writing while my butler gives me fresh cup of coffee every hour (Hey, if I am dreaming, I am having a butler.)

These tips may work for you or may not, and if they don't, rest assured there are techniques for you that you just haven't found yet. So let's get cracking...

You have to start. No, I am not being sarcastic. You need to start on November 1st, or if you are as excited and crazy about this as many of us - precisely at 12:01 am. While many people do NaNoWriMo by writing in weekends, or few days a week, or BEST CHANCE OF SUCCESS is by writing every day, even if only a few hundred words. It will also give you confidence to know that you can do it outside November too.

Personally, I set word goals for everyday, but not the same word count. For example, I set highest goal for myself during the weekend, slightly less on Friday because I finish work early, and much much lower on Monday to Thursday because I don't have much time left after work. So set your goals according to your schedule. Even in your busiest day, you have time for 100 words. Yes you do.

Have a plan. If you are not an outliner - that's fine. You don't need to have a detailed outline, but at least spend time thinking about your project, doodling, making a big word cloud - whatever. Have some sort of idea of what you are going to write. I am assuming here that at the end of the month you want to have at least a rough draft of a novel - not just a jumble of 50K words. If you know what you want to write about - even if it's something as basic idea as: Jerry goes on a quest to find the most precious cheese in the world, and Tom is determined to stop him and tries to set up all kinds of ways to kill him on the way. Jerry succeeds, gets the cheese, and Tom goes to the Cat Prison where his punishment is to watch Mouse TV all day, every day. There you go - even for a complete pantser - this is not an outline. It is a brief idea of your story. But it gives you direction. So you are not just sitting there on November 1st, wondering whether you should write about Donald Duck or Jerry - because you know that Donald doesn't belong in Jerry' story.

Play to Your Strengths. Make sure your goal suits your temperament. We are all different people. Some people thrive under pressures and deadlines, and others have a nervous breakdown. Know your strengths and use them. If you write good quality 500 words every day, but will have a writer's block for a year if you cranked out 10K in a day - don't do it. It's more important to enjoy the process than to follow the crowd. Just because some crazy woman decides to do 90K in two weeks, doesn't mean you have to. On the same principle, if you write better while with other people, then join a writing group in your area. If other people are distraction, stay clear of them, lock yourself in your room, and get on with typing.

Regulate your Forum Trolling. Okay, let's face it - one of the great things about NaNoWriMo is that it is a group effort. It's fabulous to go into this madness with all the other mad people across the globe. It's fun to see who is writing what, who is doing how many words, and what crazy things people are doing to get through. Forums on NaNo (whether official or any other boards you frequent) are a great temptation, because we also want to keep boasting or complaining about our own progress. This is what I do - and it works for me. Pick 2 or 3 threads that you like the most. Last year, I picked one or two on AW, and Regional Thread on NaNoWriMo board. Do regular posts only on them. This is when you are writing, and need a few moments of distraction or just social contact - use them. But DO NOT browse on any others. The best way to regulate that is to keep your threads open, not the main Forum Index. When you are done with your word count, then you may browse the whole thing through your heart's content. But otherwise, stick to your couple of threads.

Make your priority known. If you have family or social life or whatever obligations - learn to say no to things you don't have to do. And plan in advance for things you do have to do. For example, I placed a large grocery order yesterday online so that at least for next three weeks, I won't need to do more than minimal shopping for basics. That saves me time and hassle. That allows me to come straight home from work and get on with writing. Do your chores in advance, delegate them, or just leave them. The world is not going to end just because you didn't scrub the floors this month. You need to relax where it doesn't matter, so you can focus on meeting your word count.

Have Fun. Yes - this is a MUST. This is an amazing experience. Whether or not you do 50K, you can take a lot out of this process. So enjoy it. If it seems like a constant stress that has you in tears, then perhaps it is not for you. Little bit of stress is fine. After all, we have to push ourselves to broaden our capability, but you should know when it's too much for you. So Have Fun. Enjoy the process. Share your triumphs and your woes, and know that there are thousands of people right alongside you, going through the same thing.

And if you are on NaNoWriMo - find me and say hi :-) My username is Lost Wanderer


  1. Excellent, excellent advice! Love it...what a great post to start the season with. Passing it along... :-)

  2. I have definitely made my priority known. Great post. :)

  3. Great advice! :) And enjoy NaNo, it is a great learning experience. I have not participated since 2008 and even then enjoyed it very much. It is a very tempting challenge to join, even strong this year as I am right in the 'writing' zone and already in process of publishing some work. Enjoy :)

  4. Jamie,

    Thanks :-)

    Ms Alex,

    Good for you :)

    Thanks :-) Glad to see you on the blog.

    That's fab. What are you writing?

  5. Terrific post Dolly! Your survival tips are spot on.

  6. Great post! All very true ;o) Good luck!!! See you on there ;o)

  7. Thanks, Erica :-) See you in NaNo Zone

  8. Good luck and all the best for your NaNo-project! :-)

    And thanks for your tipps: They can be used for other projects, too!