10 practical tips for NaNoWriMo


Participant-2014-Facebook-ProfileYou’ve probably read all you want to read by now about how to write the actual novel during NaNoWriMo. But here’s a different list – practical tips. How do you make your final preparations for it and stay sane and healthy while getting your word count up?

  1. Get jobs done ahead of time. Is there any job you’ve been putting off that you could do now? Or something you know you’ve got to do during November you could do now? Americans, how can you get ahead on your Thanksgiving prep? Any day long shopping trips, go now! Essays or blog posts to write? Do it now! Not only does this reduce the time you have to find in November, but it reduces procrastination opportunities. It’s amazing how easy it is to ignore the job of sorting out the kitchen cupboards, until you’re a bit stuck on a scene and suddenly the cupboards must be sorted NOW.
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  3. Do not assume you will be able to write for 30 days straight. Unless your life is very uneventful and you never get ill or have to work late, or get invitations to great parties and other such disasters, you can bet something is going to come up that will stop you writing a couple of days out of the month. So either adjust the daily word count for say 25 days instead of 30, or look for days you can get longer writing sessions than usual and plan to produce extra words those days. NaNoWriMo 2014 starts on a Saturday this year, so if you’re not a weekend worker, this is a great opportunity to make a head start.
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  5. Make backups when you’re writing. Failing because you lost your novel file is a hideous way to end this challenge. Back it up! Every day. In the cloud, on a stick or external hard drive, whatever you do, do it. But make sure that your novel file is safe.
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  7. Make extra helpings of meals and freeze them for your own ready-meals to stick in the microwave. Minimize washing up by eating right out of the carton or the microwavable dish you heated it in! Make a meal plan, so there’s no faffing about. Anything instant is your friend. Got a crock pot/slow cooker gathering dust? Get it out. Not only does it mean you can chuck in the ingredients in the morning and come home to a hot meal later, you can also easily make extra for the next day, or to freeze. Living on takeaways for the month is not recommended – but some days… Of course the holy grail is getting someone else to cook for you all month. If you can arrange that, you’re golden!
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  9. Audiobooks! Time for sitting down and reading will be at a premium for you in November. So it might be the time to try audiobooks, as you can listen in situations where you’re getting other stuff done – exercise, housework etc. If you’re already a fan, hoard some new ones ready for November.
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  11. Take care of your body.
    • Don’t sit for so long that your back seizes up. Get up and stretch a bit at least every half hour. Have a longer break after a couple of hours if you’re doing a long writing session. Take at least 15 to 20 minutes and get up and roam about, don’t just sit there checking your email. It’s good for your back and will wake your brain up a bit. Make sure you’re sitting in a decent chair with plenty of support. Sitting on a bed won’t offer that usually. Also, if you must sit on a bed or sofa, find something hard to put your laptop on, so you don’t block its vents.
    • If you find looking at a glaring white page on screen makes your eyes tired make your Page Color some nice soothing pastel or grey. Find that under Page Layout on the ribbon on Word. Don’t forget to change it back before you print the document or submit it to an agent or editor!
    • If you suffer from RSI follow the advice you have. I’m lucky enough not to suffer from that, so I claim no expertise in it. Follow your doctor’s advice. If you have to, have several short sessions a day rather than one long one to get the work done without ending up in pain.
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  13. Like writing with music on? Find the CDs or make your playlist now in October. Putting together your novel soundtrack is a great procrastination opportunity in November, so that’s to be avoided. Get it done early. Same goes for if you’re going to make a fancy word count tracking spreadsheet. Don’t be tweaking a chart to perfection when you could be writing, make it now.
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  15. Clean up your online life and commitments. Blogs, games, forums, etc. Put what you can on hold for the month. Come December only go back to the ones you genuinely missed. So not only do you make time in November, you save some time going forward after that.
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  17. Plan ahead! Look at the calendar for November and plan when you will write. See when you can get extra sessions in. Find what you can take off the calendar for that month. Even if you fly by the seat of your pants with no outline when it comes to the actual writing, planning how to get the writing time in will be invaluable. Failure to plan = planning to fail as they say.
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  19. Don’t panic! Fifty thousand words is a challenge and you may already be wondering what possessed you to sign up to this madness. But it can be done, with planning and dedication. Most people can do it by dedicating just a couple of hours a day to it. If you can carve out that time and use it effectively you can do this. Now you’ve just got to get those words in.

Here are a few more of my posts on NaNoWriMo
Advice for NaNoWriMo newbies
Why NaNoWriMo is not about writing
Why am I doing my 7th NaNoWriMo? (I’m now doing my ninth actually!)
How NaNoWriMo helped me get where I am today


And this is my profile on NaNoWriMo if you want to buddy me for a bit of friendly competition during November. Becky Black NaNoWriMo Profile

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5 thoughts on “10 practical tips for NaNoWriMo

  1. Urgh, this is making me want to do NaNo so badly this year. I want to; I already have a novel floating around in my head and everything. The problem? School. I have too much writing I’m doing for school to even consider 50,000 words in a month.

    But good luck, Becky! (I’m assuming you’re doing it?) I hope you have so much fun and as little stress as possible!

  2. November: the time for a clean kitchen and a spotless keyboard! Maybe I’ll clean those lampshades this weekend after all. I’ve bought myself a sensible distraction – a purple glitter lamp! If I set up all three lava lamps and the glitter lamp I’ll always have something to look at when I should be writing…

    One other piece of advice: ignore those people who pass the 50K in the first week. Not all of us can devote 20 hours a day to writing and type at 100wpm.

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