How I NaNoWriMo

I have to preface this post with one statement: I am a NaNoWriMo participant.  I’m not (and probably never will be) a winner.

To win NaNoWriMo you have to write 50K words in one month (for all the rules and stipulations, go here).  I believe you have to start a new story and finish it or come close to receive the little tag you can post on your blog.* 

Starting a new WIP totally doesn’t work for me as I have two underway, but I still want to participate. I love the writing community and how supportive we are of each other.  As I said in my last post, NaNoWriMo helped me finish and revise my first novel, which led to getting my agent. 

I learned a lot of things as a NaNoWriMo participant last year, things I want to try and prepare for to help me reach my goal (albeit a measly 30K words) by December 1. And maybe they’ll help you too!
  1. Be a really good spouse/parent during October.  I’m serious, people!  I made up a double batch of alfredo yesterday and will do a giant pot of corn chowder tomorrow so that I can freeze both meals.  Not having to worry about what to fix for dinner during November will give me more time to write.  I’m also accomplishing all those little tasks that will drive me crazy if they don’t get done…like reorganizing my linen closet and changing the air filters. 
  2. Make a schedule and practice keeping it. The schedule I set for myself today tanked.  But I know that now.  So I can readjust.  By time November comes, I’ll have my writing blocks marked out on my daily calendar.
  3. Figure out what helps you focus. Writing time isn’t always quiet time.  I’ve created a playlist that helps me get my ‘gameface’ on.  Maybe your focus item is a bag of pistachios or your favorite chair.  
  4. Find a cheerleader.  This was key for me last year. I knew that every evening someone was waiting to read my three chapters (or however much).  I was accountable to someone else and she was to me. 
  5. Learn to write in fits and bursts. Man…that’s hard. My motto has always been, ‘If I don’t have two hours to write, it’s not even worth sitting down.’  But I’m getting better at writing whenever I have a spare moment.  My laptop is in my kitchen, so between loads of laundry or as I’m stirring soup I plug in a sentence or two.  The trick is to always keep the last sentence in your head.  Then you don’t waste time re-reading.
  6. Communicate with important people about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. If your spouse, kids (if they’re old enough), roommate, dog knows what you’re working on and why, they’ll likely be supportive.  I said likely
  7. Plot ahead of time (if you plot) or at least figure out several plot points before you try to write.  Like I said, I’m already working on something. I hope to be a lot closer to ‘The End’ by time November closes.
  8. Be realistic.  My goal’s only 30K and while that’s still a stretch, I think it’s something I can do. 
  9. Try to save your edits for later. Again, this is another really hard thing for me.  I totally edit as I go, which is probably why it takes me so long to finish a story.  Rather than going back and rewriting something, make a note (comments is a good way to do that if you’re using word) and address it later.
  10. Knock your research out now or skip it completely. Unless a bit of information is crucial to your plot, write what you think is correct, highlight it and come back to after NaNo is over.
And one last thing, that I learned the hard way:  Buy all your Christmas/Holiday gifts by Oct. 31.  Man, December 1st rolled around last year and I suddenly realized I had a lot to purchase and ship.  Thank goodness for Amazon! 

Does anyone else have tips they’d like to share?

*Thanks to Mary’s comment I learned that it doesn’t have to be a new project.  It can be anything you’re working on as long as you add 50K words.  Good to know!

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