Confession: my first NaNo was in 2017 and this year is my second NaNo. Of course, I’ve done Camp NaNo for years (literally, I don’t think I’ve missed one for over three years now…) and often surpass 50k during Camp. (Actually, I wrote over 60k this previous September! One month before NaNo! What’s wrong with me!)
So, what’s the secret? What’s the trick to writing 50k in a month? Here are some tips. I hope they help…
PS. I WILL be posting about my NaNo YA fantasy/supernatural/horror novel, GOLGATHA, shortly!
1. YOU WON’T SURVIVE, SO DON’T TRY
Whether you wake up at 5 AM or stay up till 1 AM to crunch out words, consume ungodly amounts of coffee or coco, or have a whole notebook of outline and character sheets to guide you… You won’t survive. So don’t try to.
What do I mean? I mean that writing, at the minimum, 50,000 words in 30 days isn’t easy for anyone. And most importantly? It shouldn’t be. I don’t care if you can easily write 10k a day or if you can barely get 2k a day… the challenge is a challenge for a reason. So own the fact you’ll be struggling, in some way or another, and be ready. OWN the challenge. DO NOT compare yourself to anyone else because the journey isn’t the same for anyone else.
Maybe you struggle starting your first chapter: write three sentences for that chapter and skip to chapter two. Maybe the middle of your novel always gets you bogged down: write something drastic to get that climax wild and fun to pound out. Maybe you don’t know how to end your novels: so take this NaNo as a chance to be strangely unusual and end your novel in a way you’ve never done before. Whatever way you struggle, remember that you won’t be coming out of this challenge the same person. And you don’t have to be a beautiful sight once you’ve hit your goal. (Psst, it’s OK if cereal ends up in the fridge and milk ends up on the shelf.)
2. DON’T FORGET YOUR OUTLINE (EVEN IF IT SUCKS)
I don’t care if you’re a strict planner or a wild panster. I’m not trying to convince you to have an outline in this post, but I suggest it. Why?
It’s 11 PM. You’re sitting in your bed, covered in blankets. Cold coco on your nightstand. Blue Christmas lights twinkle on your bedroom walls. Your laptop, before you, with a blank page blinking at your exhausted goblin face. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” you whisper. “What do I write?”
Yo, this’ll happen with or without an outline, but guess what? Too many of these moments and you’ll be losing actual writing time, and you can’t afford that in NaNo. It’s war. It’s brutal. So be brutal right back. Have a basic plot, basic outline, or super detailed ones, before the month starts. So when the Blank Page and Mocking Characters disease grabs you, you can poke it with a stick and write on.
Remember, the outline can be altered as you write. The book may look entirely different from November 1st to the end of NaNo. It doesn’t matter. What matters is writing 50k. Doesn’t even have to be a good 50k. It just has to exist. Get that through your head.
3. MOTIVATE YOURSELF AND PREP UP, KID
Before NaNo begins, PREPARE AND MOTIVATE. Here are some epic ways to get ready…
- MAKE A MUSIC PLAYLIST. I’m hugely inspired by music and love to have a playlist playing as I write. (Here’s my Spotify playlist for GOLGATHA, if you’re interested…)
- MAKE A PINTEREST AESTHETIC BOARD. Because, aesthetics, yo. Having visual inspiration can be really cool, so spend some time getting it ready BEFORE NaNo. (No pinning during writing season, y’all.) (Oh, did you want GOLGATHA’s board…?)
- KEEP NOTES. Even if you don’t outline a lot, or at all, etc… Jot down alllll the ideas before and during NaNo. Even if it is the smallest, strangest speck of inspiration throughout your day, or maybe you read something in a book you loved–write it down in a notebook or in the novel’s brain dump document. You never know when you might need that fuel later on.
- STOCK UP on coffee, tea, coco, whatever your fuel is… STOCK UP.
- GET SNACKS. I usually shoot for things that are easy to snack on while I write. (And, y’know, save the big bowls of ice cream for after I hit important writing mile stones…)
- FRIENDS? Who needs friends? Well, if you’re someone who likes having NaNo buddies (and I’d suggest it), be sure to friend your peeps before NaNo! Even if you aren’t sure about being buds with anyone, friends can be super fun to word sprint/word war with. Plus, you can rally together before NaNo even starts and get excited! Scream! Flail! Cry!
4. MAKE TIME OR DIE
Pretty much every post for NaNo prep you’ll come across will mention “MAKE TIME FOR YOUR WRITING!!!!” and most people disregard this factor because “it is stupid and impossible”. But it’s vital.
Let’s be real, November isn’t exactly an ideal month to grind out 50k in a novel that probably wants us dead. You’ve got your job, you’ve got school if you’re a student, you’ve got Thanksgiving, and probably Christmas prep (if you rock). So, how do you find time to write?
- WRITE EVERYWHERE. Wherever, whenever you can. No joke. Bring your phone, laptop, or a notebook wherever you go. Snag a few words in whenever you can. Every bit counts.
- 5 AM OR 1 AM? If you can wake up early, pound out 3k before breakfast. If you can stay up late, do your word pounding then.
- SACRIFICE THINGS. You need TIME to write… which means less time for other things. Write instead of binge watching The Office. Write instead of reading the next Mitch Rapp novel. Sacrifice other luxuries to do your work.
5. HAVE FUN AND BE SERIOUS
You’ll lose your mind! Don’t try and pretend you’ll come out of this challenge with all of your brain particles in tact! You won’t!
You’ll laugh till you cry at 12 AM watching stupid Youtube videos because you finished your writing goal for the day and your brain is a sack of rotten potatoes. You’ll cry over a scene that isn’t super duper sad but it’s cold outside so all things are 10x sadder. You’ll grab whatever friend online that’ll hear you rant and let them rant right back at you because you both forgot what the meaning of writing is. A HUGE tip is to REWARD YOURSELF when you have completed your daily challenge! Have some fun once the work is over. Try:
- FAMILY TIME.
- WORSHIP MUSIC + PRAY.
- GO FOR A WALK.
- WATCH YOUTUBE FOR TEN MINUTES.
- A BIG BOWL OF ICE CREAM.
- A NAP.
- ORDER A STRAIGHT JACKET OF AMAZON.
Treat yo self! But, while fun and games and reward systems are all grand, BE SERIOUS. Don’t get distracted, do your math so you know how many words you gotta write every day, and don’t let yourself lose your drive Only you can write your novel, your 50k. Don’t lose heart or determination. Your novel NEEDS TO BE WRITTEN and do not let anyone tell you or convince you otherwise.
Stay tuned for my post about GOLGATHA… and may you survive NaNo. If you’d like to be NaNo buds, I’m Angela R. Watts on the site!