As, somehow, October slips further and further away from us, the creative writing community becomes acutely more aware that NaNoWriMo is creeping closer.
NaNoWriMo is the thirty day writing challenge where the only goal is to write 50,000 words – 1,667 words a day. It’s the reason I do my ‘training’ writing challenges throughout the year – to keep myself writing so I have ever so slightly better chance of actually making it to 50k!
So far, I’ve only done it once but I’ve tried several times and I still adore creative writing and maybe this year will be different? But even if I don’t get to 50k, whatever I do achieve is more writing than I would have done otherwise so I’ve never thought of it as ‘losing’ NaNoWriMo – if a runner doesn’t finish a marathon, they’ve still run at least some of the way and it’s an achievement none the less!
Here’s my top 3 tips to prepare for NaNoWriMo:
One – have at least a vague plan:
I know, it sounds really obvious, but I’ve tried a couple of times to go in blind and figure it out as I go along and no matter how excited I am about an idea, I always lose momentum because I don’t have time to do the slow logistic bit when I’m trying to write 1,667 words a day.
The whole point of NaNo (at least from my point of view) is putting together a word-vomit-esque first draft – it’s not for polished words, it’s not for a perfect story, it’s to get words on paper and what you do with them afterwards is of your own choosing. Anyone who’s writing a perfect first draft by writing 1,667 words a day is a genius (or a full time writer, who knows).
Two – time management is key:
Fitting in writing 50,000 words around daily life – full time job, keeping the house clean and tidy, having a social life etc – is a mission. I usually fall into the trap of doing all my writing between 10pm and midnight in bed and it ruins my sleep schedule.
I find calendar blocking the most effective way to organise my time – I use Google calendar to plan when I’m going to do my tasks at work then I generally just use a piece of paper to roughly plan how I’m going to spend my evenings and weekends.
Another thing I’m going to try for the first time this year, is using Google Docs instead of Microsoft Word (is that controversial?). We used Google for everything in my last job and being able to log in to any device and pick up where I left off could be really helpful this year where I’m working full time and commuting for nearly 2 hours a day.
Even just having somewhere to jot down any notes or ideas when I’m on the go (obvs not when I’m driving) and not having to make sure I have the most up to date version of the doc on whatever device I’m using will be really convenient.
It’s super nerdy to be excited about trying a new software for NaNoWriMo, isn’t it?
Three – take the pressure off:
Like I said – the goal is 50k but anything written is more words than you would have written if you hadn’t tried, so not meeting the goal of this challenge (i.e. it’s difficult!) isn’t the be all and end all.
In one of my previous challenges this year, I managed to write at least something every day and that’s the mentality I’m going into WriMo this year with. Even if I only manage 100 words on my lunch break, if I can write consistently for 30 days that means more to me than the word count.
The other thing is to not put any pressure on what you’re writing – sometimes when I sit down to write, I’m ready to craft a new story, come up with new characters and get to know them, but sometimes all I want to do is write fanfiction of whatever show or movie I’ve watched recently and that’s fine! Writing is writing.
I feel a little more mentally prepared for November this year – I’ve been vaguely thinking about what I’m going to write for WriMo for a few months and I’m actually excited about what I’m going to work on. Will I fall back on writing superhero fanfiction within a week or two? Almost certainly, but writing a little every day is my focus and as long as I don’t resort to including my shopping list in my word count, it’s all good with me!
Thank you for reading,