It’s that time again. NaNoWriMo! Here are some tricks to making this write-a-novel-in-a-month exercise work for you.
1. Announce Your Intentions
Let your family and friends know what you’re doing—and get their buy-in. This may mean extensive negotiation. Do whatever it takes: Pizza night, babysitting co-ops, doggie daycare, car-pooling trades, sleepover swaps, etc.
2. Carve Out Your Writing Time
Finding the time to write out 1,666.66 words per day for thirty days isn’t easy—especially when you figure in work, family obligations, and, yes, sleep. Keep a time sheet of your waking hours for a week prior to NaNoWriMo and figure out where you can sneak in some writing. Here are some ideas:
- Skip the evening news/late night talk shows/your favorite show.
- Write during your commute. If you’re on a train or subway, write longhand or on your phone. If you’re driving, use a hands-free tape recorder if your local law allows and talk your way to your writing goal.
- Get a bike or treadmill desk and write while you work out.
- Hire out chores—cleaning, cooking, food shopping, washing the car, walking the dog, etc.
- Eat take-out. Delivered.
- Train yourself to write whenever you have a spare ten minutes or more: in waiting rooms, between classes, during your kids’ soccer practice, etc. Seriously.
3. Make a Scene List
Start with your big scenes. Remember that every genre has its obligatory scenes—that is, scenes that you might need to tell your story.
For example, if you’re writing a romance, odds are you’ll need scenes like these: cute meet, first kiss, first fight, break-up, reconciliation, wedding, etc.
If you’re writing a mystery, you might need: Murder #1, the discovery of Body #1, the introduction of sleuth, first clue, Murder #2, discovery of Body #2, sleuth interviews suspects, sleuth confronts the murderer, etc.
Once you have these big scenes plotted out, you can build in the smaller scenes that take you from Big Scene to Big Scene. Then you’ll have a scene list to guide you through NaNoWriMo.
4. Use an Hourglass or Timer
When you’re doing NaNoWriMo, there’s no time for procrastination. You’ve carved out writing time every day to meet that 1666.66 words per day goal at the expense of your day, family, and friends, and you can’t afford not to be in the mood to write.
My best defense: An hourglass, or if you don’t have one use a timer. When I don’t feel like writing, I start my timer and I promise myself I only have to write for 15 minutes. If I can’t think of anything to write.
Give this a try. You can use an hourglass or a timer, whatever works for you.
5. Play the Movie of Your Story in Your Mind
When you get stuck, imagine that your story is a movie. Visualization engages your sub-conscious, and by so doing helps you kickstart your story. I like to do this when I’m walking the dog. I watch my story unfold on the screen of my mind, and I recount what’s happening by using the Rev app on my phone. I talk my way through the scene, and the next, and the next. The best part: I can send the recording to Rev to transcribe. I don’t have to do it myself.
You don’t have to either.
6. Reward Yourself
I’m all about rewards. Give yourself daily, weekly, monthly rewards. And make them worth writing for.
- Daily: an hour of reading a new book, a surf
- Weekly: a trip to the waterfalls
- Monthly: a camping trip to embrace the senses for my story
Make up your own list. Reward the artist in you.
Good luck and don’t give up.