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It’s Friday again, and I’m back with 9 NaNoWriMo Tips! We are so close to National Novel Writing Month and planning is getting down to the wire.
If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, then check out my previous posts here:
Today, is all about staying focused while we write. The hardest part is getting those words on paper every day. So, these are my tips for staying focused and beating writers block.
9 NaNoWriMo Tips
1. Make writing a priority.
I can’t say this enough. It’s the main reason I struggle every year. Whether it be school or work, I always put writing on the backburner.
Set your goals, break down the steps, and commit.
How do you do that, you might ask?
2. Schedule time to write.
Grab a calendar right now. Write down your work schedule, classes, appointments, anything that is a must in your life. Then, add at least an hour to write every day. Although, two would be better.
Pick a time you’ll be most productive. Woke up an hour earlier. Skip that hour of binge watching. Don’t be afraid of frozen dinners and takeout every now and then.
Whatever you do, make writing as important as showing up to work every day. You wouldn’t call out of work just because you don’t feel like it, so don’t call out of writing.
3. Set a timer.
This one is easy. You set the timer and you start writing. And you don’t stop writing until that timer goes off. No potty breaks. You shouldn’t be getting up for snacks. Do everything you need to before you sit down to write.
4. Then write.
This is the hardest part. Getting words on paper.
Here’s my tip:
Grab your outline, scene list, or whatever brainstorming you’ve come up with in October. This is where scene cards come in handy. Write down whatever you’ve already written about this scene, even if it’s a single sentence. Write. It. Down.
Then, keep writing. It doesn’t have to be coherent yet. Don’t worry about the flow. Just write. One thought will lead to the next. And before you know it, you’ll have written a scene.
Which brings me to…
5. Don’t edit as you write.
Stop it. Stop it, right now. Your first draft should not look like a novel. It should be messy. Things will change.
If you insist on editing, do it after your timer goes off. Not while you’re writing. After your hour is up, then you can read back over what you’ve written and decide if there’s anything you want to add. This is a great place to figure out where tomorrow’s scene will start and how they need to transition.
6. Keep your momentum.
Let’s say your timer goes off, but you don’t feel done quite yet. There are still things you want to say. Keep writing. If you have the time, don’t stop until you feel satisfied or stuck.
And it’s okay to feel stuck. Some days will flow better than others. Just shoot for the minimum every day and you’ll stay on track. But by all means, use those productive and inspired days to their full potential!
7. Bypass brain farts.
Have you even been writing and got stuck on a single word? You know you know this word. Other less satisfactory words are swirling around in your brain, but damn it if you can’t find that one word. It’s okay. Take a deep breath. Leave a short definition in parenthesis and move on.
You’ll remember the word when you read over it later. Or you’ll have time to look it up. But you won’t get back those 20 minutes if you waste them festering over one word.
8. Get unstuck.
The scene has hit a dead end and you don’t know where to go next. Ask yourself these three simple questions.
- What would happen if a wormhole opened up and characters from other stories entered my world?
- What if the big bad walked in right now? Or his henchmen? Or a bomb went off?
- What if a devastating secret were revealed right now?
If none of these get your brain juices flowing, then consider making a “what if” list before you start writing in November. Write down as many prompt ideas, worse case scenarios, and character conflicts that you could use when the story gets stuck. Don't have time? I've already made a list of 20 What If Prompts you can use!
Give your characters pet peeves just to get under their skin later. Develop complex relationships between characters. Create mistrust, secrets, and lies. Incorporate nature, bad weather, harsh climates, rough terrain. There is always conflict to be had. You can adjust it to better suit your story later.
9. Treat yo self!
Set up a reward system. If you’re using NaNoWriMo.org to keep track of your word count, they have a badge system for completing different goals. Some include word count while others focus on community and exposure.
But don’t forget to set your own goals and rewards. Schedule your writing time so you can relax a bit when you get done every day. Have small treats planned when you reach your mark every week. Plan a really awesome reward for when you complete 50,000 words!
Rewards can be anything that will get you motivated. I’m personally very food driven. But you could also plan a spa day, buy a new book, have a night out, or treat yourself with something you’ve been eyeing for a while.
Then, put those goals and rewards where you can see them every day. Whatever motivates you to sit down and write. Even on the hard days.
Those are my 9 NaNoWriMo Tips for today!
Next month will focus on writing prompts and tips to keep you inspired while you write.
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And don’t forget to leave your own tips in the comments below!