I don’t talk a lot about writing on the blog, even though I wish I did so a little more often. Writing has always been a part of my life, even if it goes from being 90% of it to 5% of it all, it’s always there in the corner of my mind.
Today, I thought I’d change things up and, for once, talk about writing. It’s the perfect season to do so… because it’s November and with it comes NaNoWriMo. That time of the year where every writer in every corner of the world freaks out as they try to get this story out of their minds and write 50k words in an entire month.
Also known as that time every writer at every corner of the world tries not to tear their hair out in frustration. What can I say, writing is intense okay??
📝 My experience with NaNoWriMo
Fair warning: if I’ve been writing for every since I can remember holding a pen in my hands, my story with NaNoWriMo started only 5 years ago when, as a student, I suddenly decided to jump in and try this little adventure. Needless to say I failed royally, only writing 5k, but…. it was the start of an adventure indeed.
In 2015, I won, writing 52K in a month.
I tried to participate the next year, but, it being my first year as a now-full-time-working adult, well… failure it was.
Two years later in 2018, I got back to it unofficially, with my broken foot and only having this to feel worth something in that time, and…. well, I started rewriting my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel and won again. 58k words in a month.
Now it’s 2019 and I realize I haven’t done NaNoWriMo the conventional way since 4 years, so I genuinely wonder who the heck I am to try and give writing advice. Yet…. here I am. I feel like these 5 tips are the ones that really help me write, both during NaNo season and any other time of the year when I really want to focus on my writing, so…. I hope these will help you, too.
📌 5 Writing Recommendations to survive this NaNoWriMo
💻 Change your routine to fit writing into it all
If you want to write, you have to make time for it. This is an advice I have had a hard time following (as weird as it sounds), and this is an advice that goes for any time of the year you want to write.
Yet, NaNoWriMo incites you to write A LOT of words every single day (1 667, to be precise) and…. well, unless you’re a really really reaaaaally quick writer, you might need to take some more time into your day to fit all of these words.
I think it’s so important to find your routine. Some people will wake up earlier to get some writing done, while some others will sleep later. Some people will stop blogging altogether to focus on their writing, while some others will just cut off on some other hobby to fit writing into their schedule this November. Some people will stop making food and wait for their special someone, their family, the delivery guy to just sustain them all month long. To each their own.
What I do : I started paying more attention to my writing routine before NaNoWriMo, actually. I cut down on blog hopping (even if I feel guilty about it) to leave some time each evening to open my Word document and stare at my writing. Now, I feel weird when I don’t do it. That’s how you create a routine.
📋Have a plan… or let the plan come to you
There are three types of writers… well, I’m certain there are a lot more, but commonly, we fit writers into three categories:
- Plotters : the ones with all the notebooks and timelines and plans and schedules obsessively writing 10 pages long outlines and knowing every up, down and across moment of their stories and characters. Might be exaggerating a little bit…. basically, these are the writers that like to plan everything ahead.
- Pansters : the ones that wake up on November 1st and let the words come to them, basically. Inspiration and imagination and no preparation, just let the mind go wild.
- Plansters : the ones that start things up with a loose structure, an idea of what they want to write and where things are going, but leave some space for their imagination and spotaneity to take over and… well for their characters to make a mess of things. Obviously.
Whether you’ve been writing for long or are just starting out, you will or have figured out which category you belong in, for the most part. In order to survive NaNoWriMo, all you have to do, really, is listen to your mind and the kind of writer that is in you.
If you’re a plotter, might be best to have a plan ahead, not to freak out too much. The best advice here is to get ready for NaNoWriMo, knowing the kind of writer that you are.
What I do : I’m a planster, usually. I like to have a loose structure, knowing what happens, the beginning, the middle and the end clear in my mind, as well as the main characters, their wants and needs. If I don’t know where I’m going at all, I’m just not going to do it at all.
📈Try not to obsess about the numbers… as long as you write
Yes. NaNoWriMo always screams about 50k words in a month, an entire novel in a month. If you reach that goal, whether it’s the 50k or the entire novel finished, it’s INCREDIBLE, of course.
Yet, if you ask me, NaNoWriMo is a really awesome event just to get you to write. So yes. If it boosts you to reach the 1 667 words every single day, try and reach for that. If you can’t do it one day, don’t beat yourself up, either. You might be able to catch up another day and write 3 000 words. You might not be able to catch up at all and, you know what?
That’s OKAY too. As long as you write, you’re doing amazing, so always, always focus on that goal, numbers aside.
What I do : well…. I try not to obsess about numbers even if sometimes it’s hard. I like to look at the consistency of my writing, rather than the number count. I might write 500 words sometimes and 2k another time and it’s okay. If I manage to show up every day to write, I’m trying to be proud already. Consistency is key.
💛 Keep yourself accountable…. or find others to help you do so.
Writing is hard. Showing up everyday to do the work is hard, especially during NaNoWriMo… or well, any time of the year, really. I often find it hard to keep myself accountable, to keep this consistency I dream of, to tell myself to show up and just write this damn thing.
Because for now, all it is is a bunch of documents on my computer that no one, really, is waiting for, a messy story that no editor or agent wants to see.
I’m really being a downer here, wow.
I have noticed that having a support system as a writer matters a whole damn lot. Writing might seem lonely, but really, it’s not when you find your people and your community. It’s even easier during NaNoWriMo! Every writer out there will be rooting for you and supporting you. You just have to put yourself out there.
- Find writing buddies participating in NaNoWriMo as well and cheer for each other.
- Tweet about your writing and your progress #amwriting #nanowrimo … and find others to support!
- Talk a little bit about your writing, even if it’s hard sometimes to open up. You’ll find people to support you, scream at you to go the hell and write and threatening to cross oceans to force you to get to this damn story (in a very friendly way, obviously).
I find that the easiest way to keep yourself accountable, is to find a support system, people that surround you that root for your story. Even if they haven’t even read it.
🎨 Be creative and keep yourself inspired
NaNoWriMo is A LOT. It’s a whole damn lot of writing in a whole damn little bit of time and, no matter how much you love your story idea, sometimes it’s hard to stay inspired. Motivated. To want to let the words out when you’re exhausted.
Creativity is the answer, really. Being creative about your story, in other ways than words writing, can be the key to keeping you inspired. How can you be creative, then?
- Create aesthetics and moodboards,
- Create playlists,
You can create these for your entire story, for your characters, for specific scenes that you’re stuck on….
A small note : if you decide to share these aesthetics online, please remember to take pictures from free stock images websites such as unsplash, canva…
⌨️ What I’m doing this NaNoWriMo 2019
This year, I’m once again not going to participate in NaNoWriMo in the conventional way, meaning that I’m not going to write a brand new story.
Instead, I’m heading into draft 4 of my 2015 NaNoWriMo story. I’m going to be editing and I have no idea what I’m doing and will probably ruin the story of my heart into a tiny million pieces. (Can you tell how anxious I am?)
This should be a lot of fun.
These above are some of my story’s aesthetic. I’m marie.dhb on NaNo, if you want to add me!
Other writing resources and blog posts you might enjoy:
- Cait @ Paper Fury gives 10 tips to win NaNoWriMo
- Madeline @ Happy When Writing has the BEST writing blog. She talks about establishing a writing routine in her latest blog post
- Caro @ Bookcheshire Cat talks about her editing and revision process
- Well Storied has some wonderful tips about writing and craft overall.
- Sophie @ Sophie’s Corner shares how she outlines her NaNo novel.
- Sarah @ Written Word Worlds tells us How Not To Prep for NaNoWriMo.
Happy writing to all of you writers and NaNoWriMo participants!
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Why, or why not?
Do you have some advice to keep yourself motivated to write every day? Do you have any other tips and tricks for writers this month? Let us know in comments!