My wife is all kinds of nervous about doing NaNoWriMo with me, although bless her heart, she hasn’t shown a single sign of wanting to back out, even though she hasn’t a clue what she wants to write about. It’s prompted us to get into a few serious conversations about writing, which is awesome for our relationship, as she’s always been a “closet writer” — she loves to write, but she’s painfully shy about ever sharing, even with me, what she’s written.
I was thinking of a few common-sense tips and helpful aids to surviving NaNoWriMo that I shared with her, and since it looks as though several BioBreak readers and friends are joining the push this year, I might as well pass these along:
- Recognize in advance whether you’re a planner (you prepare the story beforehand with an outline, plot arc, characters, details) or if you are a write-by-the-seat-of-your pants type of author. Both are equally valid, but if you’re a planner, you better get cracking this week.
- In either case, have an “ideas” file that you’re adding to starting now and continuing through the month — characters, dialogue exchanges, events, even words. Sometimes when you get writer’s block, it helps to thumb through this file for inspiration.
- Develop a support network for the month. This can include friends who are doing NaNoWriMo with you (and can easily sympathize), and people who are on the outside, able to care for you and give you encouragement. Also, check out local NaNoWriMo write-ins, where authors gather to write together. It’s a lot of fun.
- To hit the 50,000 word goal, you have to write 1,667 words a day. My advice? Write an even 2,000 words a day — that gives you five days over the month that you don’t have to write squat. You’ll need those five days, as emergencies and writer’s block emerge.
- Don’t fall behind on your personal writing goals. There’s nothing worse than having to make up four days of missed writing.
- In general, the first week is exciting, the second daunting, the third grueling, and the fourth an all-out dash to the finish line. Everyone hits “the wall” at some point in the month where they want to give up. Don’t!
- Read the NaNoWriMo blog. They have tons of great advice on there! This recent article is a good read.
- Don’t write for me. Don’t write for others. Don’t write thinking how this is going to be a best-selling novel. Write for YOURSELF, to make you happy. That’s the only chance of success you have!
Here’s their win rates (the percentage of participants who make it across the 50K finish line) over the past eight years:
- 2001: 14%
- 2002: 15.6%
- 2003: 13.7%
- 2004: 14.3%
- 2005: 16.6%
- 2006: 16.2%
- 2007: 15.1%
- 2008: 18.2%
And again, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo as well, let me know or add “Sypster” to your buddy list!