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NaNoWriMo: Tips and Tricks

October 17, 2012

Having successfully completed the camp session this past June,  I have decided to take on the challenge of NaNoWriMo for November. Looking back at my experience from that event I hope this session will end up being even better. Below are a few of the tips, tricks and ideas I plan on using, avoiding and trying out for this session of NaNoWriMo. 

Things I plan on repeating:

-Aiming for higher word counts in the beginning. (I did this last time and found the status bar, estimating what day you would finish, to be incredibly encouraging.)

-Setting mini goals for myself. (During the course my writing session I made a point to set goals that seemed attainable but still produced a challenge. Examples include hitting word counts, timed sessions, writing to the next scene.)

-Rewarding myself. (As part of the mini goals I would reward myself for each one I completed. Some days this was a snack, other times it could have been a few rounds on a sock or hat, once in a while it was watching a show online.)

-Updating the blog. (I have no idea how you all felt about the updates during the Camp session, but the days I did post and you all responded were some of the best incentives to keep going. Though I promise to try to keep it to a minimum.)

Things I plan on trying:

-Interacting with the community. (During the camp session they would place you within a “cabin” (optional) where you and a few other people could write to one another (on a forum board) sharing details of the story, updating progress and bemoaning the dreaded writer’s block. My first cabin started strong but by the second week almost everyone disappeared ( a few never started updating or participating which was a bummer. This time I am hoping to get into a group, or find one that has more active members.)

-Writing sprints.(Since camp finished I have tried this method a handful of times with varying degrees of success. For me the writing sprint involves setting a timer and just writing about whatever during that time be it part of a story or not. I found that it usually is enough to kick-start my writing for the day/ inspire a few new ideas or directions to take.)

-Different times. (When camp started I struggled with sitting down at the same time every day and writing until my word count was done. Often I felt chained to my desk and could feel myself getting burned out. Near the end of the session I ended up writing at a few different times, and renewed my spark so to speak. This time I am hoping mixing it up a bit will aid in preventing burn out.)

-Outlining, ahead of time, while still remaining flexible. (Last time I went into the challenge with a very rough idea of what I wanted to do, I didn’t end up outlining anything until half way into the session. I found that flying by the seat of my pants left me unnerved and resulted in a forced story. Not having an idea where I wanted to go or even what the goal was left me scrambling to force points that I never really wanted to include. Outlining even in the barest sense should hopefully bring me a little more peace and a chance at keeping sane.) 

-Celebrating more. (When I hit the 50,000 word count total I ended up celebrating by going out to dinner with my friend and husband, which was awesome. I had the little badge icon thing that I put on various social media sites for a day or two, but other than that I didn’t really talk about my writing afterwards. While I know whatever I produce with this NaNoWriMo challenge will need to be revised and edited (a lot) I do want to celebrate the accomplishment a bit more. I also hope to celebrate (in minor ways) the various word count milestones;  5,000, 10,000, 25,000 ect. Nothing to extraordinary but something to signify to myself the accomplishment.)

Things I don’t plan on repeating:

-Not using contractions. (For the most part I found myself using contractions anyway, but whenever I noticed them in a previous section I debated whether or not to “fix them.” I know that it is one of the tips for those taking on the challenge, and I can see the advantages in increasing your word count. I just have a hard time doing so.)

-Updating word count graph constantly. (Camp had this handy feature, which I am sure the original Nano has, where you input your word count total and a little bar graph marks your progress. You also are told how many words you have written, how many are left and an expected completion date. These things are great, but for me they became a little too addictive, I would write maybe 50-200 words and quickly pop over to update my count. I found myself getting distracted by it or some other aspect of the website, which cut into writing time.)
-Putting it off until later. (There were a few times during the session where I kind of blew off the writing for the day (not because I was burnt out or had something else to do, it was because I was lazy.) I tended to justify it by saying I was a little over on my word count, it wouldn’t be hard to catch up (it was) and I didn’t have to do anything today (I did.) This time I am hoping that I can get a schedule and stick to it, even on the days when I just don’t want to (although I will still probably struggle with that.) While it’s supposed to be fun (and it is) it is also a challenge which means fighting off the laziness and putting one word after another on the page.
-Pretending it isn’t hard.  (Tackling 50,000 words isn’t easy. To actually finish on time is even harder. For some reason I found myself constantly trying to brush it off, say that it didn’t matter. Granted, I am not saving lives, nor am I being forced to participate in the session, but at the same time I want to acknowledge that it is a difficult undertaking. Instead of pretending that the challenge isn’t there, or that it isn’t as important as anything else, I want to admit that it will be a difficult journey. I want to acknowledge at the end that it wasn’t this walk in the park (although if you are an allergy sufferer like me that can be particularly difficult as well,) that I should be proud and that it does take dedication.

 Have you ever participated in the NaNoWriMo challenge(s)?Planning on tackling it for the first time? Do you have anything you plan on using again for NaNoWriMo? Are there things you want to do differently? Stuff you don’t want to do? Please let us all know in the comments.

Happy Writing.

From → NaNoWriMo

  1. Amanda Gerodias permalink

    I am so not a writer. Very much a reader, but your post kinda makes me think about trying this NaNoWriMo challenge. LOL. Anyway, I totally wish you the best of luck and I look forward to blog updates about your progress and celebrating milestones!!!

    • I would encourage you to try it out sometime.

      • Amanda Gerodias permalink

        I have no vision though….I could always write really well for school assignments, but the topic and genre of writing was picked for me…I don’t know how fruitful it would be without that part laid out for me.

  2. I’m super excited you’re doing NaNoWriMo again! I will encourage you in whatever way you need.

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