• Sonnet Fitzgerald

Tips For a Successful NaNoWriMo


Can you believe it’s November already? I don’t know about you guys, but where I live summer has held on with an iron grip. I still have flowers blooming in the garden, and my neighbors were out grilling last night! Normally we have snow on the ground by now.

For many authors, November means NaNoWriMo! I’ve seen a lot more excitement and chatter about it this year compared to previous years, so I wonder if participation is up. Will you be writing 50,000 words in one month? It’s fun, but it’s not easy, for sure. Here are a few tips to make your NaNoWriMo more productive than ever.

Remember you are writing a first draft. Or think of it even as a pre-draft. You aren’t going to end up with a ready-to-publish literary masterpiece at the end of the month, nor should you! The goal of NaNoWriMo is about challenging yourself to write every day, it’s about the process. Stop feeling embarrassed about what comes out because honestly, you never even have to show what you write to anyone else if you don’t want. Don’t edit, don’t worry about form, don’t worry that something doesn’t make sense. Just write!

Join a group. Having people around you who are also doing NaNoWriMo will encourage you to keep going when it’s tough. They also understand your challenges, and can offer support that non-writers can’t. If you can’t get your friends or neighbors to do NaNoWriMo with you, consider joining one of the many groups online: The NaNoWriMo website has links to several.

Outline your story. I know, I know, there’s ongoing friction between the outliners and the pantsers. But in my opinion, no matter how you normally write, a challenge like NaNoWriMo benefits from having a plan. It will prevent you from getting stuck and wasting precious writing time trying to think of what happens next. If you have a basic idea or some key scenes already formed before you start, you’ll always know what to write about.

Gamify. If you’re not familiar with the term, “gamification” means turning something you have to do into a game. This hits all the right spots in your brain that make the activity fun and rewarding. Some ideas are competing with a friend or writing group (larger groups can even have leaderboards!) rewards for hitting specific goals, and giving yourself extra challenges such as including random items in a scene. A romance scene with dinosaurs? On it!

Use technology designed to make writing easier. A number of us write in Word because that’s what we’re familiar with, but consider shaking it up a little. I am a huge fan of OmmWriter, a word processor that gives you the perfect writing environment. It blocks out everything else, gives you a soothing color screen, and makes the most satisfying plink noise when you type. Working in Google Docs means you never have to worry about saving your work or backing it up. Use a speech-to-text program such as Speechnotes or Dragon to shake things up and dictate your work. Use Evernote on your smartphone to write a few paragraphs while on your lunch break.

Choose the right time of day to write. It doesn’t matter if I set an alarm for 5am and gave myself a quiet hour to work every single day in November, I’d never write a single sentence at that hour. I love to work at 2 in the morning, but I know many people who groan at the thought. While I’m a big fan of writing all throughout the day, getting in a few sentences wherever you can, if you put aside regular time make sure it’s a time where you can be alert, creative and productive.

Make it fun! That’s the basis of what NaNoWriMo is about. This is something you are doing just for yourself, and it’s fantastic! So pour yourself a glass of wine, buy a new set of pens, stock up on music and chocolate and kitty pictures. Reward yourself and surround yourself with what makes the work enjoyable.

Now get out there and get your 1,667 today! Good luck everyone.


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