Let’s Talk Nanowrimo – Daily Writing Habits

Nanowrimo is just around the corner and we are already two-thirds of the way through Preptober. Time flies, right? So let’s talk a bit about the nuts and bolts of Nanowrimo.

Have you declared a project yet? I’ve decided to be ambitious this year and go for 100,000 words instead of 50k. This means that I’ll have to write 3,334 words instead of 1,667 every day. Now, this may seem a bit daunting to some but for me it’s more of a target than a set in the stone, the world will end if I don’t finish this, goal. But even if I don’t manage to get all 100k words done, the key to accomplish anything is to sit down every day and actually do it. So here are some tips to help both you and me have a more successful Nanowrimo.

Commit yourself to writing every day

It doesn’t have to be some grand scheme of slaving over your keyboard for hours and hours every day, chained to your desk until you finally manage to grind out that first draft. It can be as little as five minutes a day writing in a notebook while waiting to pick up the kids from school or that load of laundry to finish. Instead of taking a smoke break, use that time to get a few words down. As long as you write something, a paragraph, a sentence, a word, you are winning. But if you don’t commit to carving out that bit of time every day, there will always be a hundred other things more than willing to take over that space.

Set yourself goals

So many people see 50k words and shut down before they can even get started. Even broken down, the idea of finding the time and inspiration for 1,667 words is daunting. But like so many things in life, that’s just an arbitrary number. It’s easy to be so overwhelmed that you never end up starting at all or if you do start and then miss a few days, then you feel like you’ll never catch up. And truthfully, when I’m writing I’m rarely thinking about word counts, I’m too focused on my story line and characters. So set goals that motivate you. Instead of saying I’m going to write X amount of words in X minutes (although if that’s the way you get your best writing done, go for it. Find a way that works best for you!), say that you’re going to write until you finish the next scene or next chapter. Maybe you’re stuck on a scene, so instead of not writing, set the goal of writing out one of your character’s back stories and what their motivation/goal/purpose in the story might be. It could be that you feel that your characters are stuck in place, so set a goal to sit down and write all about the world they live in, fleshing out all the little details like where’d they shop, hang out, all the little things that people do in every day life.

Think of it like this: You’re taking a road trip to a new amazing location (remember, books open new worlds to us 🙂 ), this isn’t like the trip that you take every year to the lake or Grandma’s house. This is somewhere that you’ve never been before. You might’ve spent some time preparing snacks and necessities (outlining chapters and the plot) or you might be planning to pick things up along the way (pantser). You’ve got a basic roadmap (your story idea) and your destination (your completed first draft). But if you don’t start, you’ll never reach your destination. There are many ways you can travel, making stops at certain towns (chapters or scenes), or you could be planning to stop and stretch your legs every so many miles (word count). Although you might have certain stops planned (outlines), you never know what you might find along the way. All you have to do it start.

Accountability Partners

When we know someone else is going to ask if we’ve done something or not, we are much more likely to complete the task. It’s also true that if someone asks to help them keep on track, we’ll be a lot more mindful of whether or not we’ve done as we said we would. I tend to be a solitary writer, although I like talking and sharing ideas with other writers and learning from them. But if having a buddy along the way helps you keep on track, then I highly encourage you to find someone to do Nanowrimo with you.

Writing Platforms

Something that people may not know about me is that I have a highly competitive streak. It’s not that I like to beat people, as a matter of fact I like to help people succeed along with me, but I like to always challenge myself to do better. I’ve recently found a site that speaks to that side of me. 4thewords is a writing community that gamifies your writing. It is set up in word sprint style, where you have to write so many words in so many minutes in order to defeat monsters. There are also quests that you can work towards defeating. Also, you get rewards for writing every day. If you write 444 words a day, a reasonable amount, you build up a streak and the longer the streak, the cooler rewards you get. The story line is intriguing and the community is out of this world. Also, they’re doing a special Nanowrimo event with bonus events and rewards. By getting rewarded to write, it helps me to get my word count every day and I find myself hitting my goals quicker than I ever anticipated. Like I said earlier, the main thing is to write, just write, every day, and this program helps me do this.

If you’re interested in checking this out, use my referral code for an extra free month. I highly recommend at least checking it out 🙂

My code: VXKKX33097

If you are participating in Nanowrimo, tell me what you’re writing this year and what your goal is. Can’t wait to hear from you 🙂

Happy Monday!

Let’s talk Nanowrimo

Hey Everyone,

It’s October, which means that Nanowrimo is just around the corner. This year will be my third year participating in this challenge.  .So let’s talk a little bit about Nanowrimo and the pros and cons.

Accountability

Writing is pretty much a solitary sport, unless you’re collaborating with someone on a story, but that’s a subject for a different blog post. Although we bounce ideas off of people and then have them beta read our work (so thankful for betas!), the process of actually creating is done by the writer alone (and maybe the cat perched nosily on their lap.) Unless you’re really good at setting deadlines independently (which I’m not) or under contract which keeps you on track, then it’s just as easy to not write on busy days as it is to carve out a bit of time to write. By participating in Nanowrimo, you are promising yourself that you will write a certain number on words in a certain amount of time. You’ve probably also told your friends and family this, which adds another layer of incentive for you to do as you said that you would and sit down and write. (Not surf facebook or update your pinterest boards, but actually write).

The cons of this can be that some people panic when they see the end goal, overwhelmed by the amount of words they’ll need to churn out, not realizing that if done in smaller chunks daily, it will be much easier to breeze through. Or they write when inspiration strikes them and freak out that their characters will not be amenable to writing every day, digging their heels in and creating writer’s block. (I find that most characters want their story told and with a bit of coaxing, will keep telling you their stories.)

Word Counts

The typically goal for Nanowrimo is fifty thousand words over the course of the month of November. It works out to about seventeen hundred words a day. This has been my goal the past two years and again this year. I did not manage to do it the past two years, but that was because of lack of discipline on my part. However, I do feel like I made good progress on my books and was glad that I had participated. The pros of having a word count for Nanowrimo is that it encourages people to sit down and write every day. I have a very high competitive streak and also like to cross things off my list of things to-do, so this encourages me to hit the goal words every day. Also, you can set the goal at whatever you want for the month. I’ve seen everything ranging from a few hundred words to 250k words. It allows you to chose what your goal is and let’s you work at your own pace of whether you are a fast or a somewhat slower writer. (You are still writing, so never look down on yourself for your writing speed. As long as you put even one word on a page, you are a writer.)

The cons for word counts are this. Some people, myself included, never know where a story is going to take them. The bonafide pantsers. And the thought of being tied to a specific number of words is daunting. What if the story wraps up in less words? What if the story takes more words to tell. Here’s the good news. Your word goal is not set in stone. It’s a general target that you can adjust as you need to as you get a better idea of where your story is going and how long it will take to get there. Another con is the fact that you have to create so many words a day.  What happens if you have a slow day and only manage to write a few words? Or that you have to go back and edit a large portion before you can continue the story? Or life happens and you aren’t able to sit down and write at all? Again, this goal is just guidelines. There are no penalties for not getting the “required” amount of words done and the unnecessary stress you are putting on yourself needs to be let go. Make a quick face, promise that you’ll try again tomorrow, and move on. The whole point of Nanowrimo is to encourage you to have a go at a project that you may have been putting off, not to make you so miserable that you give up on it entirely.

Cabins

Many new Nanowrimo participants wonder what the cabins are about and even some veterans. The short answer, community. If you already have a writing group established, you can create a cabin together and share your work back and forth throughout the month. If you don’t have people to create a cabin with, you have three other choices you can do.

One: You can do it alone. There is nothing wrong with this option and many people do Nanowrimo this way. 

Two: You can search for a cabin that’s your specific genre and get placed into it. This is what I most often do, I write fantasy and I like to have fantasy and sci-fi people to bounce my idea off of.

Three: If you are adventurous or outgoing, you can ask to be placed in a random cabin. This is a great way to meet fellow writers and get a diversity of opinion. The cabins are a great resource and community. It is a group of like minded people that you can reach out to when you hit a snag or are feeling discouraged in order to get some help and encouragement. And who knows, maybe a hurdle that you’ve overcome is something that someone else is struggling with and you can help them out.

The cons of this? Writers can be very sensitive about their work (heaven knows that I am) and are unwilling to show anyone their work until it is finished and polished. There is nothing wrong with that. Also, sometimes personalities just don’t mesh well, you may have someone in your cabin that chimes in on everything, whether or not they have anything helpful to add. Remember, there is always the option to switch cabins. You are not locked into one that just does not work for you.

So this is just the barest sneak peek at a few components of Nanowrimo. I will be writing more about this throughout the coming days. If you have anything you want to know about specifically, drop me a comment and will try to cover it.

Participating in Nanowrimo? Comment below about your project, goal word count, and what you would like to get from the month. I’d love to hear from you!!

Happy Monday!

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