It’s that time of year again: National Novel Writing Month or “NaNoWriMo”. Every November, writers of all stripes make a pledge to write 50,000 words (approximately a novel-length piece of writing) in the span of a month.
The idea is to carve out time every day to write a certain word count (if you write approximately 1,667 EVERY DAY, you’ll hit 50,000 by November 30), which a) forces you to actually write and not just think about writing a novel and b) should hopefully get you into the habit of writing on a regular basis. It can be crazy or fun or stressful or a little bit of all those things combined.
We’re at that point where people are either chugging along at full speed or have stalled after colliding with writer’s block. Here are some tips to get you through the last couple of weeks.
1) Take a break now and then.
Whether you’re literally stopping mid-writing to check your email or taking a break from your manuscript to write something else (say, for example, a list of tips for conquering NaNoWriMo), you should probably give your brain a rest before you overload and blow a circuit.
2) Treat yo self.
Some people have little treats set aside as a reward for hitting a daily word count. Or maybe once you hit a particularly big goal (maybe ever 5,000 words?). I can’t say I’ve done this, mostly because I can’t be trusted not to cheat and eat my treat before actually accomplishing this, but lots of people use it as motivation.
3) Talk to someone about your manuscript.
Usually, I brainstorm with my sister, which is especially helpful if I get stuck on a plot point. It can also be nice just to share details about whatever you're working on.
In your “spare” time (if you’re lucky enough to have spare time), read or at least flip through a book in the same genre as the one you’re writing. If you’re writing out of your comfort zone i.e. in a genre you’re not really familiar with, it’s important to get an idea of what elements traditionally appear in those sorts of stories.
5) Follow #NaNoWriMo on Twitter.
There you’ll find the best mix of writerly types: the ones who are gloating about reaching a certain goal. The ones who have lost their ability to put words into sentences potato. The ones who are cautiously optimistic (or optimistically cautious). The ones who aren’t participating but are still being encouraging. The ones who ARE participating and are STILL being encouraging despite the fact that they’re going cross-eyed from stress. It’s a weird, wacky, wonderful place, and I’m positive you’ll find someone to relate to.
You can do this, fellow NaNo-ers!