It’s that time of year again! October is coming to a close, and soon writers all around the world will pick up their pens and start the exciting adventure of NaNoWriMo, attempting to complete a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time two years ago, and it was incredibly fun!
As a first-time NaNo participant, I wanted to do my best to win! Though most advice for NaNo is just “Write 2,000 words every day and you’ll be fine”, there were a few specific things I put in place before November 1st that were game-changers when the time came to start writing! Here are three tips to start applying now in preparation for NaNoWriMo!
Tip #1: Block out time and inform everyone!
This goes hand in hand with the basic “Write 2,000 words every day” tip! 😛 However, in order to have the time to sit down and actually write those 2,000 words, you need some sort of strategy. Think it through. When is the most productive time for you to write? When is there a time you can set aside to get writing done without responsibilities or interruptions getting in the way, like doing schoolwork, chores, siblings interrupting, etc.
Once you’ve pinpointed a good time you can set aside almost every day, let your family and friends know so that they can try and work with you on this. If they know that every morning from 7:00 to 8:30 AM is writing time, they can try and avoid interrupting you until you’re finished writing.
I said to try and find a time you can block out every day, but sometimes life happens and your normal writing time will be taken over by something else. This is fine, as long as it’s not every day! When this happens, do your best to find another time in the day, or write in short, 20-minute bursts if that’s what it takes! Even skipping a day isn’t the end of the world, you might just have to catch up by writing a little more the following days. But staying consistent is your best friend to completing NaNoWriMo.
Tip #2: Outline first!
I cannot stress this enough! If you write really well without an outline and you feel like you don’t need this, that’s fine! However, for me and for a lot of writers, we get stuck without a map leading us through our story. When we know the path to take, even if it’s just a rough outline, we are able to forge ahead and write far more words.
So I’d encourage any NaNo participant to at least write out a simple outline of their story. That way you can lean into the story you’ve already constructed and write with confidence, knowing exactly where the story is going even before you start the first chapter.
Tip #3: Plan a reward system!
Now we get to the fun stuff! 🤪 😎
NaNoWriMo is a challenge, but it’s also meant to be fun and exciting! So make sure you give yourself small rewards throughout the entire month. You could set up a system where you only get your reward when you reach certain milestones in your novel. Say when you hit 5,000 words you get your first reward, then another at 10,000, 25,000, 40,000, and then a huge reward when you finally reach 50,000 words and have won NaNoWriMo!
This is all up to you. The rewards could be spaced as closely together or as far apart as you want, and they could be as simple as giving yourself some icecream each time you reach a word goal, or as complicated as going to see a movie or eating at a restaurant when you finish each act of your novel. This is all up to you, but it’s a great way to keep yourself motivated and have fun!
BONUS TIP: Get accountability partners!
This bonus tip is perhaps the most important! Make sure you have accountability partners! Having fellow writing friends who are participating in NaNoWriMo at the same time as you is a huge motivator to keep writing. You can check in with each other every day, report how many words you got, and cheer each other on!
The official NaNoWriMo website has a whole system set up where you can join writing camps and write with fellow people participating in NaNo. If you don’t have other writing communities or writing friends you know in real life, you could try checking that out!
There we have it! Three (or four, should I say?) tips that I found really helpful when planning for NaNoWriMo! I hope you found them helpful as well. Are you participating in NaNo this year? If you are, I wish you the best of luck! Keep writing, stay consistent, and don’t give up! I believe in you!
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