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Here we are. The final day before NaNoWriMo begins full force. Are you excited? I hope so. After all, you’ve got your idea, you’ve made a decision whether or not to mind-map, and found a method of outlining.
I’m going to switch the plan: Survival Tips for your Halloween Treat. Many authors begin strong but soon find themselves encountering familiar foes like writer’s block (or blinking cursor syndrome), fatigue, procrastination and frustration.
Here are some things you can do to alleviate these common enemies many NaNos face, I’ll go into more detail but for now here are the basics:
- Scene planning
- Attend Wordsprints
- Ask for feedback
- Get a critique partner
- Attend live/online write-ins
- Plan for procrastination
- Take breaks, it’s okay
- Turn off your inner perfectionist
- Make your writing time sacred
Something you can do to alleviate some pressure when you get stuck is to stop and plan some scenes. It can help you feel less overwhelmed if you look at the smaller parts first and then add them into the overall story. I did this in Blessing of Luna and it truly did make things less daunting. I had the major scenes planned out which just left the details. You can do this in a notebook while you’re binge-watching Netflix or listening to music.
This way, there’s no pressure of “Oh God, I have a full novel to write” only you, your notebook and a pen or pencil. Use scene planning as a method to relax as a lighter exercise then when you’re ready, go back to work.
Wordsprints are timed sessions many authors have during NaNoWriMo. They’re simply times authors can get together (or by yourself) and focus on writing. The timer is for you to keep focused during the time the sprint is happening. It can be as long or as short as you like. The point is for you to pace yourself with an opportunity to join others. During NaNo, I hold word sprints either on Facebook live or on FyreSyde’s Twitch channel. I welcome you to join me. I know Kim Chance and Megan LaCroix hold them on their Facebook pages. It’s a great time to be with others and realize you aren’t alone.
Ask For Feedback:
The forums on the NaNoWriMo site are a great place to find feedback if you haven’t been able to find your tribe yet. They’re very active during November and have a specific section dedicated to those needing feedback. Remember, you aren’t alone. There are many of us all doing the same thing and most likely suffering or have suffered what you’re going through.
Get a Critique Partner:
I should say something along the lines of a person who will make sure you’re holding to your goals. Your personal cheerleader. Someone you trust to complain, whine, moan and gripe to. For me, last year, it was my poor husband. This person is someone to hold your hand during your journey. They can be a spouse, a friend, a parent, another author, a boy/girlfriend, etc. After NaNo, these are some folks you can swap novels with for the Alpha reading stage. A critique partner is a great support system because they can provide crucial feedback. Especially if you’re too nervous to ask.
Attend Write-Ins (Online or Live)
Write ins are a lot like word sprints, only without the timer. They’re gatherings of authors who get together to do what they love: write. They’re held all over the place. You may have some going on in your hometown. I know where I live, there are multiple going on at midnight tonight. If you’re looking for write-ins, the NaNo site is a good place to start as well. The forums have a section for those who are holding write-ins. If you attend on online, they’re mostly held via avenues like google hangout, Facebook live, Instagram, and sometimes on phone apps. It’s all up to you as to how you want to attend. It’s yet another opportunity for you to get together with others, network and get crucial help and feedback.
Plan For Procrastination:
It’s going to happen. Even to veterans of NaNo. Plan for it accordingly. Whatever you do, don’t confuse procrastination with relaxation. It’s more than okay to take a break. NaNo is a sprint if there ever was one. However, don’t put off your novel so long, it never gets written or forces you to produce subpar work.
Take Breaks: It’s Okay
As mentioned above, it’s more than okay to take some days to rest. Your creative tank may need some time to rest. These self-care days can be a time where you allow yourself to either plan some scenes, watch Netflix, or if you’re a late nighter, sleep. You may choose to read those books on your overly large TBR list. Whatever it is, allow yourself some time.
Turn Off Your Inner Editor/Perfectionist
NaNo is for you to write at least 50K (or whatever your wordcount is). There’s no need for you to flesh out a final draft in that time. Turn off your inner editor and just focus on getting the story into a Word doc, Scriviner, etc. The pressure is already on. You have limited time to dish out some serious word counts, why put more on yourself. This is a good time to write for fun, not for perfection. A good friend of mine, Michelle Rene has a great article on how to focus on writing as fast as possible by shutting up your inner editor.
Make Your Writing Time Sacred
Choose a time you write best and stick to it. If you’re a parent, ask your spouse or significant other to watch the kiddos so you can write. If you have older kids, ask them to give you this time to yourself. Just so you know, it’s okay for younger kids to watch television during NaNo. They get to laugh and squeal at SpongeBob while you get to focus on your world-building. Maybe you’re like me and write best late at night. Whatever works best for you, make sure you stick to it until the end of the month. It’ll help you focus your time and give you a goal. Also, reward yourself when you accomplish it. Go to the man-cave or the she-shack and play a video game or enjoy some coffee. Heck, you just wrote for almost two hours, give yourself a treat.
Writing can be a lonely occupation but the great thing is, NaNo is a time where many writers are forming groups to support each other during a trying time. Whatever you choose to do, have fun and don’t give up!