Are you ready for NaNoWriMo? Most of us can prepare for NaNoWriMo just fine. But can we sustain the crazy pace of writing so many words every day? And even if we do, can that be a manuscript that we will keep and ultimately send off to a publisher?
Most writers feel absolutely compelled to take part in NaNoWriMo. And that is fine, if you have done all the planning for the book ahead of time so that you have an outline of every chapter, and if you don’t stress over small things such as completing word counts. But for most of us, our best intentions get lost in the distraction of starting NaNo. So, here is what I have done for 5 years.
In November I usually start a new novel that I have planned the month before and I plan to write as much of it as possible during November. I usually plan for no more than 1,000 words a day. If I do more…bonus! If I don’t, that’s okay. What I don’t get completed in November, I complete in the first few weeks of December. But by Christmas, that is indeed a gift that I give myself—a complete first draft of my novel!
So, here are a few things that I have learned over the past five years to make your NaNo the most successful.
- Determine what YOUR goals are for NaNo. Make sure that this is something that YOU want to do and not something you think you should do because all your writer friends are participating in NaNo.
- Plan your book ahead of time so that you could sit down and merely write in November and December.
- Enjoy the process—rekindle what you LOVE about writing and then plug into that energy.
- Play some music while you write or light a candle. Make your writing time and space as appealing and wonderful as possible. This will help you want to come back to write the next day.
- Listen to your inner voice—it is always giving your little tips here and there. Don’t mask it in busyness.
- At the end of every week, regroup and evaluate how you are doing. This will help you to keep what’s most important at the forefront.
- Work on at least one other project during the month. I usually try to work on another personal fulfillment project and that helps me to reconnect to the excitement and creativity that you need to do your best writing.
By taking these steps, you will be connecting to that center within yourself that propelled you to start writing in the first place—your writer’s soul. Don’t ever forget it otherwise you will get lost in distractions and sooner or later you won’t be able to acknowledge the real reason why you started writing in the first place.
How to Pace Yourself During NaNoWriMo
When writers start large projects, timing and pacing is a large part of your success. Pacing isn’t too difficult to do at all if you plan ahead. You could even plan for times when you could have some down time for rest, relaxation and recreation.
These times could be just as important as your productive times because they help you to regroup and to step back from your work.
In order to pace yourself during the November NaNoWriMo, you should make up a writing grid for the whole month. In it, you should jot down your writing for the whole month. Here are a few tips to achieve this.
- Determine what your overall writing goals will be for the month in terms of words or pages.
- Divide your overall goals into four equal parts. For instance, if your overall goal is to write 30,000 during November, you will have to write 7,500 words a week.
- Then further divide your writing goals into, say, six parts, so that you could have one day off a week. So, you’ll have to write approximately 1,250 words a day.
- If you decide to write for five days only, your word counts will go up higher to about 1,500 words per day. This is doable. But you must plan to do it in order for it to get done.
So, fellow writers, here you have it. Spend some time over the next few days determining what you want to accomplish in November so that you could map out a plan like this for yourself. Your chances of succeeding will be much greater if you do.
How to Practise Self-Care During NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is still about a month away, but it is important for you to make plans to really tackle this journey in such a way that you don’t burn out by the end of November.
In order to remain healthy during this time, you must not only prepare what you will write and outline your new manuscript but you must also schedule your exercise and self-care. Oh, and while you are at it, you should also cook a whole bunch of meals that you could put in the freezer for easy access during the month of November.
So, here are a few tips that you need to practice for self-care during NaNoWriMo.
- Set up your writing schedule for the month before you start writing in November. For instance, decide what time you will be writing, and for how long.
- While you are scheduling your writing time, also schedule your stretch times and your exercise time. Add that into your planner in red ink.
- Schedule times to meditate every day–even if you meditate no more than 3 to 5 minutes at a time, it will help you feel more balanced and not as stressed out.
- Write down when you will eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner in your planner. Schedule that onto your planner in another color ink.
- Schedule your other appointments in your planner, be they doctor appointments or other commitments.
- Add your work times in your planner if you work outside of the home.
- Add any other commitments on your planner too. Make sure you write everything that needs to be done, including housework and laundry on your planner. Designate a consistent time for these activities.
- Schedule self-care time: that is time when you will pursue your hobbies, such as crocheting, knitting, or quality. YES!!!! You CAN and MUST schedule these things and DO them during November otherwise you will burn out. Even if you spend an hour or two a week doing some activity that you really love, you will feel so much better. Don’t just plan to do nothing but write during November. That does not ensure that you are taking care of yourself.
- Have a cook out on the weekend–say Sunday. This again will make you feel much more grounded.
- Bake bread or a pie or cake on the weekend. This also is a way to ground yourself and make you feel good.
By taking these steps, you will be making NaNoWriMo the best that it can be. And when December comes along, you will have a new drafted book AND you will be ready to enjoy the holidays!
If you would like to learn more about How to Survive and Thrive during NaNoWriMo, I look forward to having you in my workshop next month.
Irene S. Roth has a Master’s Degree in Philosophy and Psychology from York University and is currently using her expertise to write for kids about empowerment and self-esteem. She has published ten nonfiction books for kids and teens and fifty books for adults as well as over a thousand articles both online and in print. She has been running workshops at Savvy Authors on many different topics for writers over 3 years now. She also leads a very successful mentoring group for writers through Savvy Authors that is in its third year.