There are some obvious tips for surviving NaNoWriMo.
Coffee, lots of it, is a given if you’re a coffee drinker (which I’m not, but I’d guess that your need for coffee during NaNoWriMo is probably as great as my need for chocolate.)
Food and beverages are just part of the equation however. (Although I’d love to know what your favourite Nano refreshments and edible delights are).
- Keep writing – it might sound obvious but writing for me is like daily exercise. Once I stop doing it, I find it hard to get going again. If you are blocked, keep writing – even if it’s not something that will fit in with your story. Try writing a stream of consciousness letter from your main character to a friend or enemy – even if it’s about having writer’s block. I find that this helps me get back deep inside my character’s mind.
- Walk, mow the lawn, play golf, do whatever works for you. I find that walking helps free my mind and gives me the opportunity to mull over my plot.
- Allow as much thinking time as writing time. I find that allowing myself the time to think about what will happen next helps me avoid writer’s block because when I sit down to put pen on paper (and yes I hand write my first draft) I know where I’m going.
- Yoga/pilates for writers – typing, sitting, getting all those words out puts a lot of strain on more than just the mind. If you don’t stretch – particularly your hands – you will suffer for it. Here are some great links for exercises for writers – many that can be done at your desk http://www.writing-world.com/life/yoga.shtml and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6rjmUsqa9g and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YE4WOkSF-q0 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MfsEZPIcZY
- If you’re stuck on one scene – leave it for now and write the scene that’s ‘calling’ you.
- Plan ahead – not necessarily in great detail – just know what you want to work on next time you sit down to write – and write the scene that takes your fancy. You can sort the order of things later. I like to at least start with a detailed synopsis.
- I used to over plot my NaNo novels and then when I came to write them I’d lost the spark. So now I do a mix of plotting and pantsing. As I mentioned above, I do a synopsis so at least I know who my character is and what their goal is and what the resolution to their story problem will be. But I don’t know how they’re going to get there. That’s all revealed, even to me, as I write.
- As I write, I scribble down notes of things I think of that will need to happen in the future and some things I will need to add in to earlier chapters already written. I don’t edit at this stage. Keep moving forward.
- Set realistic personal goals that fit in with your lifestyle and commitments. Personal goals are just that – they are personal – they your goals. It doesn’t matter how many zillion words other people are writing, all you have to worry about are the targets you have set yourself. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
- Enjoy the journey. NaNoWriMo is not supposed to be torture – it’s supposed to be fun. There are all sorts of groups, write ins and word wars you can join to make the experience more enjoyable and help you when your motivation is flagging.
If you have tips on how you survive NaNoWriMo, please feel free to share them in the comments section of this blog.