5 Tips to Succeed at NaNoWriMo

We're halfway through NaNoWriMo and hopefully no one has carpal tunnel. 

We're halfway through NaNoWriMo and hopefully no one has carpal tunnel. 

NaNoWriMo is kind of a huge deal for a lot of people. Even though there are now events in April and August (Camp NaNoWriMo), November is the really big event. Some people spend the year planning for NaNoWrimo; and some people just look forward to it - that's more my style. Either way, NaNoWriMo is the month of dreams for a lot of people -- and with good reason. What better month to buckle down and write a novel than November? It's starting to get cold and rainy (or snowy, if you're in that kind of a climate). The summer is officially done and we can pile ourselves in sweaters and drink coffee and tea until we can't sleep. 

Ideal novel-writing time, really. 

Undoubtedly, every year, some people start NaNoWriMo and never finish -- or they plan to start, but, um, don't really get to the starting point. I don't know the official NaNoWriMo stats, but I'd say about half the people who commit to NaNoWriMo don't really finish by the 30th. And the other half? We're left exhausted and low on coffee grounds, but with 50,000 words in some kind of form. That's success, right? 

How can the NaNoWriMo "winners" (we call it winning, but mostly, it's crossing the finish line) inspire the "quitters" (no hard feelings) keep going? How can we all end November with novels, and dignity, intact? Since we're now officially halfway through, I thought I'd share what keeps me going. 

1. Schedule time. 

I have an alarm set on my phone everyday for 7:30pm that says, "Have you NaNoWriMo'd?" No matter what I'm doing -- watching TV, out and about, working out -- it's a reminder that I have this thing that I'm doing that if I fall behind on it, I'll be super upset with myself. If I'm home, I'll drop whatever I'm doing (sorry, Danny) and go upstairs and write. Even if I just get 800 words down, it's 800 better than zero. You just have to do it -- even if you hate it, even if you were doing something else. 

2. Don't overwhelm yourself.

You know what's the worst idea ever? Trying to write 2-3 blog posts every week while also writing 1,600+ words everyday plus working full time everyday. If you have other writing goals or responsibilities, chill it out. This month is probably not the month to expect stellar blog content alongside a 50,000-word novel. 

3. Tweet it out. 

Need some help? Need some encouragement? Just including #NaNoWriMo in a tweet will bring on an onslaught of encouragement, kind words, and general cheering. Go for it. You have NaNo-friends.

4. If you start to hate your novel, that's normal. 

On Friday, I opened up the Word Doc where I've been writing my NaNoNovel. As I stared at the words I'd previously written, I found myself battling internally. I hate this book, I said. I hate these characters. I hate this setting. I hate everything!! I'm tired!! I should start over!! Pro-tip: do not let the "I've been binge writing for 15+ days and I'm tired" blues get you down, make you quit, or make you start editing. I find at this point in the month, I start adding character histories, subplots, and other random bits to distract myself from the elements that I desperately want to edit and/or delete. 

5. Just keep going. 

Write out recipes if you need to. Meaningless details that you know you probably shouldn't include. That scene you think doesn't matter. The intensely detailed description of a house. Just keep writing. Don't stop because you're bored, or you're tired. Get your word count in. And if you find yourself on a roll, do not stop writing! Bank words for the days where you just cannot anymore. 

Do you have any great tips for NaNoWriMo? Send them to me @ellipsis_life