So it’s that time of year again. November seems to come around quicker every year, and since it’s only a week away we need to start talking NaNo.
I don’t claim to be any kind of NaNoWriMo expert, but I’ve definitely had a few ups and downs with it and have learned a lot along the way.
I’ve done NaNo for the last four years, and I’ve won it for the last two. The way I approach it has changed over the years and I think I’m getting to the point where I know what works and what doesn’t (for me anyway).
So that being said, these are the things that have helped me the most over the last few years.
1. NaNo Write-Ins
November can be a lonely month for us NaNo-ers. While it’s true that you may have to take a bit of a step back from your social life during NaNo, it can sometimes feel like you’re exiling yourself from human contact altogether. This is why the write-ins and meetups are so important.
Every region has weekly write-ins (the Dublin ones meet in Accents Coffee and Tea Lounge every Saturday afternoon in November) and they’re a great opportunity to get out of your writing zone and talk to actual human beings. It’s nice to be able to chat with people who are going through the same things as you, and you might get some tips and tricks that will get you through any problems you might be having.
You’re there to write as well, obviously, and it can be helpful to write in a different place than you’re used to. Sometimes our brains need a change to get through a block, so the meetups can be great if you’re struggling to get writing done.
I only started attending the write-ins last year, and I found them so helpful. I met some lovely people, who I’m looking forward to seeing again this year. And I got some good writing done.
This s kind of a no-brainer for writers anyway, but having a notebook on you at all times is crucial for NaNoWriMo. You never know when inspiration is going to strike and you don’t want to lose any words just because you weren’t near your laptop.
Like changing where you write, sometimes changing what you write on can help your writing as well. So turning off your laptop and writing with good ol’ fashioned pen and paper might give your story the shake-up it needs.
3. NaNo WordSprints
If you’re on Twitter then you definitely need to follow NaNoWordSprints. They share word sprints, which are time-based writing prompts. Normally they’re 10 or 20 minute (occasionally 30 for those that really need help) sprints, and the prompt is optional, but can be helpful if you’re struggling with your novel.
It’s normally something like ‘have your main character encounter something scary’ (or something much more exciting than that normally) which can be great if you can’t get past a certain scene.
Even if you don’t use the prompt, the fact that it’s timed can be really helpful. I find it useful to write in timed blocks, and then take a quick break afterwards (normally to look at Facebook or Twitter). Having a set time means you’re less likely to be distracted before the timer stops.
So it’s kind of a cliche that all NaNo-ers drink coffee, but I actually think it’s important for 3 reasons:
- Coffee gives you energy, and energy means you can write more.
- It’s a treat. Coffee is amazing, and I look forward to every cup I drink. So I like to use it as an incentive for reaching a certain goal. Even just a small goal, like getting to the end of my set time without stopping, deserves a cup of coffee.
- You have to get up to make a cup of coffee. Writing 1667 words a day involves a lot of sitting at a desk, or on a couch with a laptop . It’s not good for you to sit down for that long (my creaky knees can’t take it anyway). So getting up to make a cup of coffee is a good excuse to stretch your legs.
*Tea or hot chocolate will also work
So there you have it, everything you need to get through NaNoWriMo (plus an actual story, of course).
Happy writing fellow NaNo-ers! See you on the other side.