Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How To Do It

Update first: Day One Word Count- 2038.  Not bad.  My goal this year is the same as last year- 2000 words a day.  That gives me a little bit of a cushion for later in the month, I hope!

We've all heard it from people who find out we are participating in NaNoWriMo: "Wow! That sounds like fun, but I could never find the time to do something like that."  Honestly, the first time I tried this, in 2008, I wasn't sure I could, either.  But I think I've learned a few things in the last two years.  So I'm going to outline a few things that may help those who wonder how we get those 50,000 words down in the next 30 days.

1. Tell the people in your life what you are doing.
This sounds obvious, but if they don't know, they can't help you.  Tell your family, your friends, your roommate, your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife.  It's easier on everyone if they know why you are disappearing into your writer's attic for hours a day.  They may not understand, but at least they know.

2. Set aside time every day to write.
Again, sounds obvious, yes?  But it's important.  Figure out when you do your best writing work and block out that time on your daily schedule for writing.  Stick to it.  When it's time to write, write.  Don't fold that last load of lsundry, read that last chapter, watch the last half hour of Dancing with the Stars, don't even brew up another cup of coffee.  Get all that done before, or do it later.  If you have a schedule set up, you are more likely to get it done and accomplish your goals than if you try to write willy-nilly.

3. Set a goal.
Decide how much you want to get written every day.  Make it realistic.  I try to do 2000 words a day.  The minimum to get to 50,000 by the end of the month is 1,667 words a day.  I like going a bit over that because it gives me a cushion for the inevitable days when I just don't get as much (or any!) done.  You can, of course, go over your goal if things are flowing well, but don't go under unless it is absolutely necessary.

4. Realize that what you write is not going to be good.
In fact, it will probably be pretty bad.  To borrow a phrase from Mur Lafferty:  You are allowed to suck.  (By the way, if you have not checked out Mur's excellent podcast and blog, I Should Be Writing, (http://isbw.murlafferty.com/) you should!).  I would take that one step further for NaNoWriMo and say: You are expected to suck.  Face it, you're trying to cram 50,000 words into 30 days, doing something many of you don't do on an every day basis.  It's not going to be pretty, but that's not the point.  The point is to get a story down on paper (or in pixels) by the end of the month.  Don't worry about every tiny detail, don't fuss over words, don't go back and edit.  You can do all that later.  Now-- WRITE!

5. Use rewards
Hey, I'm not above a little bribery!  Even if it's me doing it to myself.  Give yourself a small reward when you reach your daily goal.  I keep a bag of chocolate in my desk drawer.  When I hit that 2,000 words, I get to take a piece.  Use whatever works for you- time on the internet, a little TV, an extra dessert.  It doesn't hurt to set large goal rewards, too.  Pick something to do for yourself at the halfway point, and at the finish.  It gives you something to work for.  Not that writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days isn't enough!

6. Go dark.
When it's time to write, cut yourself off.  Close Facebook, Twitter, instant messenger services, the door to your room.  We all know how much of a time suck the internet can be.  "I'll just look at this one thing..."  And an hour later, you don't know where the time went.  Close it all down.  Walk away for a while.  The world will not stop, and you will get your writing done at the same time.  I even turn my phone around so I can't see the blinking red alert light!

These are some of the tricks I use to make sure I get my daily goal in, and have that amazing looking 50,000+ word count on November 30.  I hope some of this helps a few of you get there, too, especially if this is your first NaNoWriMo. 

Good luck!  And- get writing!

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