5. Try a support team. The NaNoWriMo forums have lots of threads during November for “word sprint” challenges where you’re tasked with dashing off a certain number of words in certain number of minutes and then reporting back on how you did. These can be incredibly motivating. Another motivator could be meetups or bootcamps, where you meet either in person or virtually and hold each other accountable for your word count, or at least report on your word count at the end of your day or week. Writing support groups are incredibly important for a variety of reasons, but they can be especially motivating during NNWM season. Even if you’re not discussing the content of your work too much with your accountability crew, at least you’re commiserating on the basics. Did you get done what you said you would? If not, you have a few friends who will duly embarrass you enough that next time you’ll want to get the job done. If you know you have the psychological homework of having to tell people whether you met your goal or not, you might be that much more likely to do so.
Monthly Archives: August 2012
4. When things go wrong, there’s always the weekend. Weekends—especially Saturday mornings—can be great times to spend playing catch-up. Let’s say it’s Saturday of a week where you couldn’t fit in time to write on either Tuesday or Friday. You’re now 3,334 words short, plus you still need Saturday’s 1,667 words for a grand total of 5,001 words needed to be churned out. Intimidating, right? Here’s where a lot of people give up entirely. Instead of throwing in the towel, look at this massive catch-up time as an opportunity to really delve deep into one of your characters’ psyches. Throw in a flashback sequence that explains something intrinsic about their present-day motivations. And remember that, yes, it may take you an hour to do each thousand-word chunk, but if you planned this adequately, you can grind this out during a time block that may only be otherwise used to sleep in. By the time you start craving lunch, you should be already done and feel very accomplished that you got back on that horse.
3. Remember that this is 50,000 words, minimum. That means that for 30 days, you must write at a pace of approximately 1,667 words per day to stay on task. If you’re feeling slow and/or know that you can catch up on weekends, you could round this down to fifteen hundred or even round up to two thousand, whatever you feel comfortable with. Since you’re going for speed over quality during your first pass with this novel, you could even look at your typing speed for a rough guide as to how long this might take you. This blog post will hit about 300 words and took me about fifteen minutes to write, for example, so if I were trying to hit the magic 1,667 I’d estimate just under an hour for my daily goal. Of course, in practice, novel writing will take you more thought and more effort, especially if you didn’t already brainstorm enough ahead of time. But if you can keep to a pace that has you at the computer for about an hour a day, you could ostensibly get this accomplished without too much pain. Where do you find this magical extra hour a day? Lunch breaks, getting up a little earlier, going to bed a little later, cutting out that rerun of Cheers you watch when you get home. Whatever you do, it can be all in one sitting or in little bursts, but experience has told me that one sitting usually works better for keeping your narrative consistent. Get up an hour early every day and just get it done first thing, if need be. It’s only for a month, after all, and maybe you can use that as your regular daily writing hour from here on out.
2. Keep things simple. This is not the time to need to do a lot of research, so go back to basics. Write what you know, or at least something you’ve thought of writing before. Set your book in present day, in a local city, town, or a place you’re familiar with (or one you’ve made up that’s based on a place you’re familiar with) so that you’re not racking your brain or encyclopedias for help. One thing that slows people down tremendously in NNWM work is quick little research breaks: “Oh, let me just look up this one small detail.” Three hours later, you’re behind in your daily word count, and that one little detail may be completely superfluous to the larger story. Put a special character that’s easy to find and replace later (e.g. ### or $%& or something else that’s unlike to show up otherwise), write yourself a note or highlight the text to show that you need to look something up during your editing phase at the end of the month, and move on.