So, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is almost upon us. From the first of November to the end of the month writers all over the world make a mad dash to reach 50,000 words and, ideally, complete a novel.
NaNoWriMo can be a wonderful experience, you can find a flourishing writing community in the month of November and potentially use the momentum you gain during the month o propel you through the rest of the year.
I personally have found that it gets a little tricky keeping things together during the month though. Between having to balance school or work, holidays, and life in general, NaNo gets a lot trickier sometimes.
Luckily for anyone who’s facing a full schedule, there is plenty of advice out there on how to have a successful NaNoing experience and I’m here to add to that pile.
So these are my tips to stay sane during November.
1) Clean and maintain your space.
Some people work well with clutter and that’s fine. If you’re one of those people, then disregard this. However, a lot of other people find it distracting and a way to procrastinate.
Ignoring the impulse to clean instead of write, having a clear and neat writing and existing space can really help some feel at ease. Without the clutter, your mind can sometimes not be as jumpy and erratic.
Make sure to not only clean the space but maintain it. If you want, you can even turn this into a daily ritual. Clean and straighten your writing space and then sit down and write.
2) Don’t be afraid to work on more than one project.
While NaNo is about finishing things, you shouldn’t let that confine what you do. I’ve been doing NaNo for years and I have found that, when I try and work on a single project, the month becomes significantly more difficult to get through than when I am working with multiple projects.
There are articles out there that put it into better words than I on why this is a good and beneficial way to tackle NaNoing but form my experience, I find that I can plow through things much easier when I am not mono-focused. I don’t get stuck as often and I don’t get bored with what I’m writing because when I do, I switch to my other project and let things stew in my mind for the one I’m faltering on.
3) Get up and move around every few hours
This is something that I’m not always good at but I find very useful when I do. The internet and writing is a big part of my life and I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen thinking about words. However, I find that, when I take a break from doing that every couple of hours, I’m able to come back and be refreshed and have the capability of plowing through more work than if I had stayed at the screen and didn’t bother to stretch.
4) Pull people into the madness.
Writing is said to be a solitary act but the fun of NaNo is that you can find a bunch of people at all stages of ability doing it at the same time. Reach out to them and say hi. Talk to them about your writing and listen to them talk about theirs. Enter a dialogue and see what happens.
Alternately if you are someone with anxiety or just not sociable, consider luring your already established people into giving it a go or get them involved in other ways.
Another thing to do with people is to try and get them involved in the plotting and planning of your novel. Give them a reason to be excited for it. Have them name a character, help you develop the plot, or anything else you can consider. Make them be invested in seeing you write this and you’ll have one more cheerleader when you when times are hard and you need motivation.
5) Approach your story in various ways.
A lot of people have internal assumptions about what kind of write they are. Maybe they think they need to plot or that they are the kind of writer who can only do so at night.
Whether this is something that is actually true or not, you should consider trying different approaches to writing, especially when you feel like you’re falling short or feeling stalled Sometimes trying a new method, be it writing in a non-linear fashion, trying to write at a different time of day, outlining or flying by the seat of your pants might just be the thing to help you jar your mind out of the rut it was stuck in.
6)) Don’t slack off on reading
You’ll hear some writers say that they don’t read as much as they used to. They’re too busy writing which is understandable but I think that reading is an absolute essential tool in creating work of your own. Sometimes you need to read the kind of book that reminds you why you write, be it because it’s just that terrible or possibly because it’s that good.
Reading helps us understand what we want to see in fiction and inspires us to create our own. Sometimes we can lose sight of what we’re trying to accomplish and I find that reading and maintaining relationship with words beyond trying to commit them myself is a really helpful way to keep me energized about my work and, on the other hand, can leave me feeling out of sorts and unsure when I don’t have reading material that i am working through.
And that’s it! I hope that each of you has a successful November, whether you are writing this month, cheering people on or having nothing to do with this whole NaNoWriMo madness. If you would like to follow me on the NaNo site, I’m crossroadstories and I am happily adding people as NaNo buddies. On the other hand, if you are having doubts, fears, or just need someone to babble at, you can also approach me by contacting me at crossroadstores at gmail or prod me at Livejournal (feralletters) or Dreamwidth (thebonesofferaletters).
Good luck everyone and happy writing!
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