Saturday, October 31, 2009

Surviving Nanowrimo

In just a few short hours it will start getting dark and the first Trick or Treaters will come knocking on my door. It's always fun to see those little ones dressed up, some too shy to even say anything, others doing a full act meant to make you run away and hide under the covers.

But tonight isn't all about Halloween. It's about being nervous about and preparing for Nanowrimo, the crazy writing adventure I've been telling you about.

Here are my tips to survive this huge challenge:

* Write a LOT on Day One. You never know what might happen along the way. You may not be able to write every single day, so being a bit ahead of schedule early on will help you.

* Write in bits. You may not have the time to sit down and write those 1667 words a day in one go, and that's OK. Write a paragraph in the morning, send yourself a few sentences through email while at work (oops, did I say that out loud??), speed write during the ad breaks of your favourite show. This way, it will not feel like such a huge task every day, and.. you may write more than those 1667 words a day without even knowing it.

* Do NOT edit. At all. Ever. I know, I know, your inner critic is persistant and it will take a lot to shut him/her up, but please, don't edit. Editing is for later. December, March, whenever. Just keep writing. It does not matter if it's crap, you will also write some truly wonderful stuff to balance that. Just keep going. Your word count will thank you for it.

* Make sure you save your work. The laptop I'm using for my Nanowrimo has a tendency to just quit on me. It's extremely annoying when online, but I simply can't have that during Nanowrimo. So I've set up my writing software to save my work every 2 minutes. This way, if the laptop does die on me, I'll only have lost less than 2 minutes of typing, and not my all of writing for the day.

* Don't panic during Week Two. Week Two is known for its dark clouds and deep feelings of 'WTF was I thinking signing up for this?' It's alright. You're not alone. In Week One everyone is so geared up to go, all excited to get this thing going, and then by Week Two, when it's getting more and more difficult to get those words on your screen or in your notebook, it seems like it was the worst idea ever to try and do this. But don't give up. Don't throw away your hard work. Talk to others (the Nanowrimo site has a great forum section), go for a walk, maybe even take a day off (see, told you it would be a good idea to write LOTS on Day One?), and then come back and write. You can do it.

* Take care of yourself. To those who never write it may seem like you're just sitting in your chair and typing a bit, but those of us who do write know it takes a lot of energy. So make sure your body gets what it needs. Keep yourself hydrated. Have bite-size snacks next to you while you write. But also: go out for some fresh air every now and then. Stretch. Blink. Step away from the computer every now and again, even if it is just for a toilet break and to check and see if your loved ones are still alive and doing OK while you are in Nanowrimo-land. And make sure you put a pillow under your bum while you write, because you'll be doing a lot of sitting down and typing away this month. No need to get sore.

* Reward yourself. You are doing something that most people say they will do some day, but more than likely never will. You are writing a book, in just one month! So reward yourself every now and again. When you get those first 10K out, or got passed a difficult dialogue or scene, you deserve a treat. Chocolate, a new lipgloss, a cuddle with your puppy, anything you can think of. You deserve it!

* And most importantly: Have fun! I know, you nearly forgot, right? This is about having fun. You're doing something amazing, and you're not on your own either. Connect with people, take part in challenges posted in the Nanowrimo forums, try and work something completely random into your story, let your characters go and explore the world even if it does not fit in with what you've had in mind. Have a great time, because before you know it, it's December 1st and this is all behind us.

Have a great Nanowrimo! And please come back to check on my progress, I'll be sure to keep you posted.


  1. Thanks :o) I gotta figure out if Word can autosave for me! Good luck!

  2. Great tips. I would add: find as many twitter-streams and blogs of other nano-ers as possible and follow them. Seeing that you are not alone is great motivation.

    Good luck - and roll on Nov 1st !

  3. thank you again
    i didnot know we have to write 16667 words every day
    but if i write more i can save some for monday, cannot i, eveline?
    greetings rein

  4. Oh nooo Rein, it's 'just' 1667! Don't make it any more difficult than it already is. ;)

    And you don't have to write so many every day, but that's how most people break it up over the month. Some days you'll write more, some you might write less. If you write 1667 words every day, you'll have 50010 by the end of the month.

  5. I can't not edit --- just a little --- or I get stuck because I'm obsessing over what needs to be fixed (LOL). Otherwise, great tips!

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  7. This is my first NaNo and I was thinking of pacing myself, but after reading your first suggestion I'm bagging that idea and will write with abandon in 6 and a half hours. :)

    But I will disagree with, "This is about having fun."

    It's not. It's about writing a novel in 30 days. If you make it about fun and at some point you realize you're not having fun, you're more likely to quit.

    I fully expect to have fun, but the *reason* I'm doing this is to write a novel in 30 days -- whether it's bliss or whether it's hell. Or a combination of the two. :)