Dear fellow writer,
National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, is upon us once more. In the duration of November, many writers and other ambitious people get together online and write like the madmen they are. 50,000 words in one month — that’s 1,667 a day. It’s a slightly insane challenge, but absolutely doable — I speak from experience. And I am here, young grasshopper, to show you the ropes. You, too, can write many words! These tips will hopefully help you out.
Get rid of all distractions
I’m not saying you should lock up your children in a cage or anything. Actually… Wait, no, don’t.
I’m just saying. There are a lot of distractions out there.
And you’re bound to be distracted by at least 22 of them. So put your phone on silent, drop the kids off at their grandparents’s house, and make sure your dog is fed. You’re going to need all your grey brain cells for this one.
Also, turn off the wifi. I mean it. You don’t need Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Instagram or Whatsit or Snapjazz when you’re writing — you don’t need any of it! Okay, you can use it to put on a playlist, some music that helps you write. But be careful. The Internet is a dark, gaping hole and it will suck you in instantly! Next thing you know, three hours have passed and you have no idea which direction yellow tastes like anymore.
You should also be careful when looking things up, especially on Wikipedia. Because the internet has lots of links. And you’re going to click on them.
Stock up on food and drinks
99% of writers get through the writing process with this magical liquid also known as “coffee”. If you’re one of these coffeeists, make sure you have enough coffee in stock. Other products you may need are tea and chocolate. Nuts and berries are known to boost brain activity, so they might come in handy, as well.
Rally your troops
I seriously don’t think many people manage to get through NaNo all by their onesies. You need to tell people you’re doing this, so you’re less likely to give up on it. Get some motivation in the form of a writing buddy or a writing group — you don’t need to exchange drafts if you don’t want, but it helps to know others are
suffering writing alongside you.
Create a buffer
It helps to have a few thousand words stocked up for when you can’t write. Like if there’s a day when you’re not feeling well, or there are things to do and people to see and books to read, or you just feel like taking a day off. There should be no pressure to write every day, but also don’t stress yourself out. Get a little buffer going and you won’t feel as guilty for taking a day off. You won’t get as demotivated as when you fall behind. You won’t have to have one of those crazy days where you inhale coffee like a sponge and you’ve been at your computer for eight hours and you’re not sure you know how to English anymore.
I personally don’t think it’s cheating to have a few thousand words at the beginning of the month. It honestly helps me get through the project. It’s crazy enough as it is — whatever helps you feel a bit more relaxed.
Give yourself permission to write crap
Turn off your inner editor — don’t look at the clunky sentences or the fact that your spellchecker seems drunk or that there are gaping plotholes the size of China in your draft. First drafts are supposed to be crappy — only every writer ever will tell you this. Editing takes up a lot of time, but you’ll have all the time in the world after NaNo. You don’t have all the time in the world now. You have 30 days. Just sit down and write.
There will be days when you’ll simply feel like slamming your head against the keyboard. There will be days when you’ll be staring at your screen and nothing comes to mind. It’s okay. Don’t give up. You CAN do this.
Good luck, young grasshopper.
I’m not doing NaNo this time around, but good luck to everyone!