I think it’s safe to say at this point I’ve gotten ‘pretty okay’ at the event. I’ve been registered on their site since 2012, though I didn’t actually participate that year, and have won every year but that first one. I’ve also participated in Camp NaNoWriMo every camp since July 2014 and won every one since the April 2015 session (4). I’ve been down this road a few times so I thought I’d post a few of the tricks and ideas that have gotten me through it each time.
Do NOT edit as you go
~ Say you write 5000 words. Don’t let yourself get sucked into the downward spiral of ‘I’ll just edit that real quick’. I promise you, if you’re anything like me you’ll get behind. Don’t. Do. It. It’s not going to be perfect. It might even be bad, but the idea is to get it out. To practice getting that word count, to reach that goal and achieve that. Editing is later, that’s why there are special events in January and February if you want to participate. Don’t do it now.
Do NOT skip a day
~ This is especially true if you are new to the game. Get your 1667 words each day. Sit your fine booty in that chair and write. Even if you have to do 200 one hour and come back two hours later for 50 and then before bed squeeze out that last 1400 through bleary eyes (totally speaking from experience here). Get those words in each day, it helps so much! 1667 words isn’t bad, but if you miss a day you need to do 3334 words to be back on track, and that number gets bigger each time you miss a day and don’t catch up.
Take a special day JUST for NaNo.
~ In the past I’ve saved PTO days for this at work, or you could do a weekend day. I’ll take a day off, get up early with my husband, see him off, and go treat myself to something from my favorite breakfast joint or cook myself a big one, then sit down and write. I’ll write for a few hours, reward myself with a book or videos for an hour or so, write some more. Lunch, and back at it. On these days I can get close to 6000 words. Especially if I’ve plotted out my chapters and scenes ahead of time. Speaking of…
Don’t sweat the planning.
~ For all that this is a ‘tips and tricks’ post, keep in mind there is no iron clad rule for NaNoWriMo. I always prep for my NaNo, but you don’t have to do a lick of planning. I do a half outline, half bullshit plan. It’s full of stickers, funny sketches, and maybe a few important plot points and character tasks. Everyone is different, some people like to meticulously plan out every chapter. I’ve done that but I always end up flying off into left field talking about werewolves or where someone gets their shoes. You’ll find your groove but don’t stress about the outlines. You may need them, you may not. Try a little of everything.
Have someone to keep you honest
~ I am not a cheat. Seriously. But it helps to have someone in your corner cheering you on. I swear I’m the luckiest damn girl in the world, my husband is my world, and my cheering buddy. He reminds me to work, he feeds me when I’m stuck three feet into a kidnapping scene, he buys me little rewards along the way and is the one to present me my winner shirt (we are seriously some of the cheesiest people ever). Find someone who can cheer you on, even if it’s your mom. If you can’t find someone in real life the NaNo forums are amazing. You’ll even get daily pep talks in your NaNo Inbox on the site. READ THEM. They help! Prowl the twitter feed, find that cheer leading squad. The community on this thing is INCREDIBLE. Go forth.
Register at NaNoWriMo and keep up with your word count!
~ This is part of the bullet above. It helps keep you honest, even if you don’t have someone and allows you to get to those resources I mentioned. It gives you an awesome chart daily of your work, let’s you announce and talk about your work. It’s all around a great experience. One of my favorite parts is the daily pep talks. They’ve had writers such as Neil Gaiman, Scott Westerfield, Kate Elliot, etc. Recently on the 28th, Danile José Older did an awesome one (Check it out). It’s an awesome resource, don’t let it waste away.
And ultimately ignore my tips if you have to.
~ No one writes the same, everyone is different. These are what has worked for me. Ultimately though this is an art, and no one is the same. So go forth and conquer!