It’s that time of year again. Writers of all levels of experience have prepared their keyboards and notepads for a month of tough use. If you’re late to the party, that’s okay! There are still 24 days left of November, and though you may not make your goal of 50,000 words, this magical month is more about disciplining yourself to write each and every day than it is about completing the fantastic manuscript. Here are five tips to staying on top of your writing during National Novel Writing Month.
Set Aside Time
This one isn’t a big surprise. Well, none of the things on our list today probably are. But, they are essential to get as many words down as you can.
Like any discipline, setting aside a specific time to dedicate yourself wholly to your task is a great way to start. Make goals. If it helps, keep a calendar.
Remember you do not need to write all your words for the day in one sitting. As a matter of fact, a change of scenery can give you exactly what you need to draw inspiration. When you set aside time or numerous intervals of time to get your work done, you’re preparing yourself for success.
Though this may sound counterproductive, there is nothing like a good support system. And the writing community has an especially strong one. Taking breaks to connect on social media and engage with your fellow 2017 NaNoWriMo participants is a fantastic way to boost your motivation. Don’t forget you can also connect with people through NaNoWriMo’s website!
Write – Even if it Doesn’t Make Sense
I heard a saying once that a still pen makes nothing but a pool of ink. As someone participating in NaNoWriMo myself, I have been told from many people – professional writers, agents and amateurs alike – to just keep writing. But how? To those of us who thrive off plans and get caught in minute details, the idea of ‘just keeping on writing’ may be difficult to digest.
The key is to allow yourself to make mistakes. Writing is a neat process. And first drafts are never perfect nor are they meant to be.
Be sure you’re setting the right goals for this month. NaNoWriMo isn’t about finishing a novel. It’s about forming positive writing habits and being a part of a large, supportive community that will make you a better creator long-term.
Many successful books came from NaNoWriMo, but they weren’t successful on November 30th of that year. After getting their 50,000 words down, these books require more tending, more trimming and more worldbuilding. Use this month to set a foundation. Be brave. Write nonsense. Out of all the chaos, something beautiful and uniquely yours will form.
The power of positive reinforcement can go a long way. Writing around 2,000 words a day or more when we have jobs or children or a list of priorities that stretch a mile long, is challenging.
You’re creating a story! This is no small feat. At the end of the week or at the close of every day, reward yourself for writing. Use chocolate (chocolate always works for me!) or a night out or an evening of relaxation. Whatever keeps you motivated to continue. Regardless of what you do, be sure not to let your hard work go by unnoticed. Even if it is a pat on the back, you should be proud of what you’re accomplishing.
Do What Works For You
Though people can get swept up in the competition of it all, NaNoWriMo isn’t about competing with fellow writers. There is nothing wrong with not meeting your daily writing requirements. You are not losing by missing the 50,000-word mark. You win NaNoWriMo by not giving up, so do what you need to keep going. Write 1,000 words a day. Write 500 words. Find something comfortable and form a writing schedule that works for your week.
If going on social media is a distraction you can’t afford, set your phone on Do Not Disturb and open your laptop. If your day is too busy to get down words, try waking up an hour early. We’re all different and require different environments to write. Your goal each day should not be to reach a word count, it should be to uncover or understand better how you write, so you can learn the best ways to hone your craft and, eventually, complete that fantastic manuscript.
Lauren Shade is a literary assistant at Holloway Literary. Follow her @Shade_Lauren.