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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How to Survive NaNoWriMo: Tips from a 6 Year Winner

So maybe you're off to a rocky start (like me), maybe you're behind (like me), maybe you had no idea what you were going to write about on day 1 and are still a little clueless (like me), well have no fear! This is not the first year that this has happened for me, and if I made it through, then so can you!

There is always some point at which I fall behind in NaNo. Be it laziness (almost every time), busyness, or just lack of motivation to come up with good ideas. But that doesn't mean that you can't win it!

Here is how I survive NaNo:
-Write something every day. I'm not saying that you write the 1667 every day, but write something.
-If you are on a roll, don't worry that you've already hit your word count! I am so guilty of this, sometimes I'm just waiting to hit my mark and when I do, I stand up and walk away... Not a good plan.
-Embrace NaNoWriMo/Daylight Savings Time insomnia. I don't know if this is really a thing for anyone else, but it is TOTALLY a thing for me. Whether it be because of the time change or my brain is too busy thinking of new ideas, or some combination of the two, I don't sleep. I went to bed at around 2 last night. Usually I go to bed around 11. In any case, if you're already awake, you might as well be writing!
-Take away your own agency. This kind of sounds harsh, but I do this all the time when I'm trying to reach goals. Basically, I take away this line of thought, "Oh hey I'd like to go running, but it's kind of cold and I'm tired, so if tomorrow it's not cold and I'm not tired, THEN I'll go running." I trade it for this line of thinking, "I'm going running tomorrow, even if it's cold. Even if I'm exhausted, it's happening. Even if I don't want to." It is the most effective way for me to be the person I actually want to be instead of the lazy person that I am. 
-Glue your notebook (or other note taking device) to your hip. Well obviously not literally to your hip, your hand maybe, that would be more practical. Either way, it really helps to be able to jot down what you're thinking whenever you think it, whether you're out with friends or at work. That way the idea is still there for you when you actually have time to write. 
-Tell your friends that you're writing. It's scary. You're afraid they'll make fun of your idea about princes and mermaids and people falling in love, but honestly, I have worked through some of my hardest writing problems with people I thought would laugh. I have fixed plot holes that I didn't see because they asked a question. They will probably be more supportive than you think. 
-Have a lot of fun. I'm not just talking writing here. I write better when I'm experiencing new things. Hang out with your friends. Go for a hike. Play some instrument. Do whatever you love. It adds fuel to the fire, I promise.
-You don't need to have a lot of time, just a lot of determination. If I know what I'm thinking of writing, it only takes me about 30 minutes to type out 1667 words. But in NaNo it takes me longer. Somehow when NaNo comes around I always get really busy. Last year I painted my room and helped build a basement for the entire month. On top of working. And I think I still hung out with friends. The year before that I was going out to hang out with people EVERY SINGLE DAY for the entire month. But both years I told myself I would win, and I did. I was exhausted a lot, but I was so happy. Writing does that for me, and if you're doing NaNo I bet it does for you too. 
-Reward yourself. I always go get Apollo Burger when I hit 50K, but I give myself little rewards and treats along the way. It helps me stay happy and motivated. 
-Don't quit, just because you fell behind. If you write a little extra every day, you'll catch up. Even if you fall behind more than once. You don't have to do a 5k day to win. They always advocate a 5k day to catch up if you fall behind, but I don't know about you, that sounds really daunting to me! I have done a 5k day ONCE in my 6 years of NaNo. And I won't tell you how many times I fell behind (mostly because that would be embarrassing. Also I never counted. Which is good, because it might be depressing if I did).
-Get in a competition with someone. My second year of NaNo I convinced two of my roommates to do it with me. I had one roommate that was ALWAYS ahead on word count. Being the competitive person that I am, I always tried to beat her. Not that I did much, but the moments that I was ahead were sweet sweet victory. I still compete with her, which she doesn't know, she's always some ridiculous amount ahead, like 10k, maybe she's competing with some crazy insane person? In any case, it keeps me motivated. 
-Most importantly, Believe in yourself. If you think you can do it, almost guaranteed you will. Have fun and good luck!

For more inspiration, read some tips from other NaNoers!
NaNoWriMo link up
The Novelista

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