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NANO Write Month Survival Tips

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As we approach the twitter season of hashtag: NaNoWrMo, the WWAT crew wishes our fellow writers success. Not only do we want you to get that crazy hashtag right every time, but also achieve those word counts you strive for each day (totaling 50,000 words in 30 days).

The idea of writing a novel in the month of November can be daunting. Not only can doubt set in, but as the holidays approach one can get easily overwhelmed. That’s when writer’s block strikes. That pesky state of mind that gets in the way. Don’t give up. Writer’s block can be defeated by continuing to write through the blankness and utilizing the rules of the craft. Every craftsman has his/her tools that they rely on. We are sharing ours in the hopes that they may help you.  

Jess – I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo before and have reached my goals. Granted the 50,000 words at the time didn’t seem achievable. I had other obligations, but wanted to utilize peer pressure to get some writing done. So I set my goal to 30,000 words. I reached it and did better than I thought. It set me up so now whenever I need to write a book I have a game plan and have reached the 50,000 word goal in other months with other stories. The best advice I utilized was to not write until I was out of ideas. To always leave the last thought for the next day. That way everyday I had a starting point and wasn’t staring at a blank screen. I’d just get in the seat when I could and start typing. That momentum kept me going and the ideas flowing so I could reach appropriate word goals daily.

John – Welp, this advice will be self-admittedly worthless. Because the advice is…plan ahead! NaNoWriMo is not a month of writing. It’s 31 days of writing. It’s 744 hours of writing. It’s 44,640 minutes of writing. It’s–well, no point in counting the seconds. The point is if your goal is words, which NaNoWriMo is based on, then you need to make a plan for how much time you’re going to allocate to get the words you need. How are you going to get that time in? What events are you going to cancel in order to make sure that you have enough BICFOK (Butt in Chair. Fingers on Keys)? Set a daily goal. Plan to skip Saturdays or Sundays? Account for that. I use Scrivener. Love it! It allows me to set daily goals and alerts me when I have achieved those goals. It lets me input which days I will and won’t write and keeps track of total word count AND updates the estimated completion date. One year, the NaNoWriMo site gave a huge Scrivener discount for all of those who achieved their writing goal, so if you reach your word count goal and you don’t have it already, you might give it a go.

Linda – I get it – NaNoWriMo is a wondrous time once a year, where writers pull out a dusty piece of writing and go wild. (Only to put it back in it’s dungeon at the end of the month for another year.) My question is: Why wait? NaNoWriMo can be every single day of the year. I can hear you scoffing already, but hear me out. If writing is your passion, then write! Every day. You may not get 50,000 words in a month, but I guarantee you’ll finish a lot faster than writing once a year. Set a goal for yourself every day. Whether you write 200 or 2000 words, or write for five minutes or an hour a day, you’ll eventually find yourself with a shiny, new manuscript. Don’t wait for November! Write.

Megan –Outlining. Okay, so that sounds like kind of a drag. I mean, what does outlining have to do with unfettered creativity?

Everything, if you’ve got a deadline.

There’s some myth out there that true artists can only work in ideal circumstances. If that were the truth, than I’d bet a lot of our favorite books wouldn’t be around at all. Here’s the thing. If you are going to drive yourself to a goal, map it out. It doesn’t have to be a detailed map (ie, you can decide if you’re going to eat at Cracker Barrel or McDonald’s later…or in the case of your book, if the heroine saves her first kiss for later). But having an idea about where you’re going before you start is no less artsy than sitting in front of your computer, stuck in the middle of 25,000 words, saying, “Where do I go from here?”

Consider yourself warned.

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