15 tips for conquering NaNoWriMo (one day at a time)


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1. Stop looking at the word count. Hide it. Cover it up. Just stop staring at it. I promise, this helps!

2. Now, write for the story, not for the word count. If I can get lost in the narrative or dialogue, I can jack up a lot more words than if I’m constantly peeking to seeing how far I am from finishing for the day. Remember, the point of NaNoWriMo is to write a book by writing 50,000 words–it’s not “write 50,000 words: you’ll find a story in there somewhere.”

3. On the tough days where I don’t know where I’m going with my story and I need to put down some words, then YES! I GO AHEAD AND WRITE SOME FILLER. Sometimes it has to be done. What’s surprising is that writing filler when you’re desperate can sometimes tell you what was wrong and you can get back on track!

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4. Figure out what helps you write, and take advantage of it. As an extrovert, I’m stimulated externally, so music and white-noise rainstorm effects help me tremendously. If you’re an introvert, maybe finding a really quiet, peaceful part of the house is more important. Whatever it is that helps, amplify it and use it. (I have some special links below pertaining to some great sound effect sites–and it won’t just be Rainymood.com!)

5. When I sit down to write, I need to actually write! Don’t sit on social networks and talk about how you’re stuck–you are more than that as a writer! Writing 1,667 words a day should not take too long, especially if you make an effort to focus.

6. When it comes to social media, I try not to talk about NaNo writing till after I’ve written something–each day! Talking when I haven’t done anything takes the edge off and it feels less satisfying. You leave yourself less motivated this way! Isn’t that horrible?! Every once and awhile, it’s okay, though. Have fun; be a part of the NaNo community (it’s all about the balance!)

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7. When you sit down to write, turn your iPhone or iPod over so that you aren’t distracted by notifications (do the same on your computer–close your email and block notifications that come over Skype till you’re done writing or at a break.) Those little pop ups can be distracting from the corner of your eye and very tempting!

8. Figure out a reward system; small rewards throughout writing time that don’t break the word flow is ideal, like pieces of chocolate and seeing your word count bar rise on the NaNoWriMo site. Even checking one social media site can be a reward–pin a couple more inspiring pins onto your book’s Pinterest page or something before jumping back in! Just keep it small.

9. It’s smart to cut down on TV this month. The TV diet should dramatically drop in November because TV EATS YOUR TIME. Figure out the shows you must keep up with, or watch on Netflix, and try to watch them at appropriate times. Do not watch TV while you’re writing. Do it before hand, if it stimulates you, or save it for afterward as a big reward–it will be a lot more satisfying this way!

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10. Stop being over-dramatic. As I said above, it shouldn’t take that long to write 1,667 words a day; so the “Oh my gosh, NaNoWriMo just takes over MY LIFE” on all the social media sites are just ridiculous. NaNo doesn’t take over your life, procrastination does! Come on, we are bigger than this, people! You should be able to watch some TV, eat properly, grocery shop, and do other things, while still having plenty of time to write!

11. An undercurrent theme you might be noticing here is SELF-CONTROL. Yes I had to scream it. NaNoWriMo is a fantastic way to learn self-discipline and self-control. Leave your computer connected to the wi-fi and then LEARN. SELF. CONTROL. It can be hard, but you can do it! Self control is a vital part of a writer’s life and we all need to learn it at some point. So, become the boss now!

12. Be careful when it comes to writing your story in your mind when away from your computer. This has been the death of great scenes in my last several NaNo novels and I’m completely avoiding the habit this year. Keep a notebook with you just in case inspiration hits you. Play the scene out immediately on paper if you have to, not in your head.

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13. Be careful not to be too hard on yourself, or too rigorous. Just make sure you’re not slipping into a passive position as a participant of NaNoWriMo. Passiveness spells danger but so does over-working. Don’t kill those brain cells within the first ten days!

14. Stretch. I mean this in every fashion! I might be sounding like a drill sergeant screaming, “YOU SAID YOU WOULD WRITE, NOW WRITE, DARNIT” but it’s equally important to take care of yourself. When your done writing for the day, or at a good stopping point, stretch you mind with brand new music. Buy yourself some new fingernail polish so that your fingers look extra cool when you type. Stretch your hands, shoulders and back. Stretch your legs; go for a walk and breath. Just stretch and stimulate your body!

15. One of the biggest incentives you should have throughout NaNoWriMo is simply the fact that you committed to the challenge. In extreme cases, maybe you need to bow out in the middle of the month because life just hurled a big curve ball at you–that’s fine! Sometimes we have to do that. But most of us simply need to find it within ourselves to own our commitments. Keep at it! Let people know that you mean what you say!

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This is not a perfect writing formula, of course. Everyone functions differently, too, so make methods work for you. However, when I remembered or exercised these 15 tricks this past week, I saw a huge improvement in my writing performance and shot ahead of schedule! Here are my stats to prove it (buddy me on NaNo if you haven’t yet!)

I promised some links up there, didn’t I!

I want to highlight Ambient Mixer; from simple rain storms and forest noises to sitting in the Slytherin Common Room, standing on a the deck of an ancient ship, or  hearing an alien desert, you can find all sorts of AMAZING ambience to fully immerse yourself in a world of sound! You can even make your own for free! Other great audio sources include A Soft Murmur, Rainy Cafe, August Ambiance, Noisli, Nature Sounds, iSerenityMoodturn.Com, Coffitivity, SimplyRain. Check these out when you have time!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to continue…

~Jamie

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7 thoughts on “15 tips for conquering NaNoWriMo (one day at a time)

  1. I’m loving NaNo so far!!! I’m about 900 words behind but I know myself well enough to know that my writing speed and word count will pick up the closer we get to December lol! I thrive under pressure 😀

    1. YAY! I’m SO GLAD you’re enjoying!!!! Isn’t it fun?! 😀 900 words behind is actually not that bad; you’re doing great for your first time!!! Heehee, oh pressure like that will do the trick too, lol!! 😉 😀

      ~Jamie

  2. I’m not doing NaNo; I tend to struggle with keeping on track just on a day-to-day basis, and I know myself well enough to know that sometimes, it just ain’t happening. At all. Poetry, maybe, but not story.

    But your #12 hit me right where it needed to: I am HUGELY guilty of playing scenes in my head, especially the big dramatic scenes! 😀 I’m going to try your method for a while and see if that kicks my writing up a notch!

    1. Haha, I know some people kinda like that *coughMyselfcough* I don’t like doing day-to-day stuff either, which is why I’m glad the official NaNoWriMo only happens once a year. XP But I get what you mean. 🙂

      Ah, I knew someone else must have trouble with that beside me! 😉 I hope my method helps your writing and saves a couple of great scenes for your actual writing! It’s so hard not to mentally write but it also sucks when you can never recapture that scene the same way again afterwards. 😦 😀

      ~Jamie

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