I was driven by the pressure of getting those words down. My mind was full of the writer’s greatest question, What if? But in this case, my “What ifs” had nothing to do with the story I was writing. I worried, What if I got sick and didn’t feel like writing for a week? What if my hands got too sore from typing and I couldn’t type anymore? What if I ran out of ideas? What if something happened to my computer?
So I felt like I needed to get it all done upfront just in case. It meant long hours, not much sleep, less family time and too much stress.
This year I decided to pace myself – to take the risk that something might come up, that I might have a bad week, that for some reason I might spend a couple of days writing nothing,
And I have to say it’s all working better for me. The ideas are flowing easier because the brain isn’t under so much stress, the body feels better because I’m not using caffeine to keep it upright. And although I’ve written way fewer words than last year I feel calmer and more positive that I will reach my goal of 50,000 words.
10 TIPS FOR NANOWRIMO
1. Set yourself realistic goals. Don’t go for ‘pie in the sky’. If there’s no way you can write 2000 words in a day then don’t expect it of yourself.
2. Don’t put yourself under ridiculous pressure. Don’t stress out if you have a nil or bad word count day. Remember there’s always tomorrow and the next day.
3. Celebrate the amazing word counts of writerly colleagues but don’t feel you have to match them – this is your race and everyone works at a different pace.
4. Rest when you need to, drink water and make sure you walk, jog or whatever you like to do. I find that moving about is really great for releasing the creativity.
5. Tell people you are doing NaNoWriMo. It helps strengthen your commitment
6. Allow yourself thinking time to work out where your story will go next.
7. Celebrate each word, Attempting NaNoWriMo is an achievement in itself.
8. Don’t count your words all the time. Back off and tally them at the end of the day.
9. If you’re feeling sluggish, find a writerly friend to have a word war with – get the adrenaline going again.
10. Work around your commitments to set yourself a regular time of day to write. Treat your writing like any other daily activity – brushing teeth, having breakfast. Incorporate your writing in your routine.
It’s still early days for NaNoWriMo 2011 but I’d love to hear how your going and if you have tips you’d like to share.
Feel free to leave your comments on this blog.
P.S. This week my Writing Classes For Kids blog has more great tips about developing good writing habits and there’s also a post and writing activity about story problems.