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Point of View: Five Strategies for Winning NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is coming up next month, and authors all over the country will be sitting down at chaining themselves to their laptops, ipads, or notepads to scribble out a “winning” story – 50K words in 30 days (and don’t forget, Thanksgiving is in there too).

So here are my tips for getting to 50k by November 30th.

1) Plan Out Your Story in Advance: This isn’t absolutely necessary – some of us are born pantsers, after all. And of course, if you are a plotter, you can plan out your story with varying levels of detail, from a note scribbled on a cocktail napkin after a night of debauchery to a detailed ten-page outline in Word. But having a road map of one kind or another can help you stay on track and keep plugging on, day after grinding day.

2) Figure Out How Many Writing Days You Actually Have: If you could write every single day in November, you’d need to do 1,666.6 words a day to win. But life is what happens when we are busy making other plans, right? So look at your calendar now. On how many days in November can you actually write? For many folks, Thanksgiving is out (or maybe the whole Thanksgiving weekend – which puts you on 11/30 with a novel to finish). Once you know how many days you have, it’s a simple calculation to figure out how many words you need to do per day. Hopefully, that number is not 50,000.

3) Use a Tracker: NaNoWriMo offers tracking, as do many other apps and programs. Or make yourself one of those little thermometer things and use a red marker to track your progress each day. Seeing it go up can be really inspiring. OTOH, seeing it stay the same for days on end can wreck you.

4) Use Your Extra Little Bits of Time: Standing in line at Starbucks? Waiting through the previews at the movie theater? Hurtling through the air, waiting to deploy your parachute? Take advantage of these spare moments and knock out a scene in email on your smart phone, and then send it to yourself. You’ll be amazed how those little bits can add up. And hurtling toward the ground at a heart-stopping speed can really rev up your writing engine AND help you get that panicked feeling down for your climactic scene.

5) Stock Up on Rewards: Rewards are one of my favorite ways to keep myself writing. Finish a scene? Get an Oreo. Figure out a thorny plot problem? Get a Wild Cherry Pepsi. Finish a whole chapter? Eat the whole bag of Oreos. Whatever it takes. You can exercise in December.

In the end, whether or not you “win” NaNoWriMo doesn’t really matter – the important thing is that you got a shitload of writing done in a short period of time.

But you’re totally gonna kill it.