5 Tips for NaNoWriMo

Or, the obligatory National Novel Writing Month tip post. They are all the rage these days, as they should be. I love reading about writing tips and tricks and so I’m offering you some of my own, specifically for NaNoWriMo. Please add your own in the comments!

1. Start writing on November 1st. If you’re really a diehard, stay up until midnight and get the first few paragraphs down. If you’re less of a diehard, get up before everyone else in the morning and start writing. Don’t put off writing your first batch of words because there’s nothing more discouraging as playing catch up on day two or three. Inevitably each year I have one writing buddy that doesn’t start on Nov. 1 and sends me an email on Nov. 3 or 4th, lamenting how far behind they are. Don’t be that person.

2. Round up and build a buffer. If you’re writing daily, you need to write 1,667 words a day to make the word count required to win. But I like to round up a little more. Aiming for 1,670 words a day is a good way of doing that, but if you’re going to round up, consider rounding up to 1,700. Not only does this stretch your writing muscles a bit more, but it also helps build a buffer in case of a mid-month emergency. And, hey, if you keep it up you’ll have bragging rights to a 51,000 word manuscript.

3. Reward yourself for completing small goals. Okay, the big reward for winning NaNoWriMo is that you’ll have a completed draft, you can download a web banner, and you’ll even get a discount on an absolutely awesome piece of software. But sometimes, those rewards seem so far off. I like to reward myself for accomplishing various milestones along the way. They don’t have to be big rewards,* but you should set them ahead of time so that it gives you something to work towards. For example, this year, I’m giving myself the reward of one cheesy 99-cent mp3 download for every week that I meet my project targets. Overall, I’m only spending about $4 on my reward, but my eagerness to finally own “Your Love” by The Outfield is priceless.**

*Honestly, I’m ashamed how much the promise of lunch at Chick-Fil-A will pull me through a particularly difficult week.

**Yeah, I know. My musical taste leaves a lot to be desired.

4. If you can’t resist the internal editor, then let him out to play . . . on another manuscript. I admit, I have a big problem turning off the internal editor. I don’t revise extensively, but I do make frequent use of the delete key. If you have a hard time keeping your internal editor in check, try distracting him or her with something other than your NaNoWriMo novel, like a draft of a novel you’ve been meaning to revise or a critique partner’s manuscript.

5. Rules, schmules. In the end, your only competition for the NaNoWriMo win is yourself, which makes some of the rules seem a little arbitrary. You know how you write best, you know what goals are important for you to consider yourself a winner. If one of the rules of NaNoWriMo is getting in the way of your goal, consider breaking the rule. If on November 1, you suddenly have the hankering to write a collection of short stories, go for it. If you’ve already got a first chapter written, but you’re dying to tell that story, I won’t tell anyone. In the end, NaNoWriMo is about writing for YOU. Use it as you see fit.

One thought on “5 Tips for NaNoWriMo

  1. Good suggestions, thanks! I really really really want to stay up until midnight, but I have class the next day, and my instructors get so fussy about people snoring in class. ;(


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