For those who don't remember I learned these tricks and tips when I was writing 2,000 words a day for four and a half months. I made it to 240,000 words. I had been shooting for 4 full first drafts or six months, and I fell half a WIP short, but it was still a pretty successful experiment.
To do this crazy thing called NaNoWriMo, to hit such a lofty goal in such a short amount of time, you need goals. The overall goal isn’t necessarily comprehendible from the beginning. 50,000 words looks unattainable. But I promise it’s not. To have a better outcome daily goals are absolutely necessary. If you go onto NaNoWriMo’s website (http://nanowrimo.org) they suggest about 1,667 words a day. That sounds a lot more achievable, right?
But for me I still need a bit more direction then just a number to hit every day. It’s definitely helpful, but personally I need more. I need ways to manage those daily goals. I need tips and tricks to make sure that I write at least 1,667 words a day for the entire month.
Here are some of the tips I’ve found to work for me in managing daily goals:
- If you are a plotter have your outline put together. If you didn’t do this before November spend a few hours sketching out something now, maybe on a weekend when you have more time. If you are a pantser and you don’t use outlines then keep track of your ideas somewhere. Even as a pantser I really find character cheat sheets helpful, and I bullet point my plot point ideas as I go. Pantsers can still write down log lines/pitches/short paragraphs of ideas that will help them get through all the words they have ahead of them to write.
- Set aside time every day in the month to make this happen. On one of the first few days, if you haven’t done this before, time yourself. If it normally takes you about an hour to write a thousand words (this is about my speed – sometimes slower, sometimes faster) it’s a good idea to find two hours every day when you will be able to sit down and write. If you can give yourself more than that, great. But setting aside time is important. And even more important is setting aside ENOUGH time. You can’t write 1,700 words if you only give yourself fifteen minutes every day.
- Eliminate distractions. This seems like an easy one – but it sounds a lot easier than it actually is. I am known for texting and trying to watch Netflix while writing. It never works. Never. And don’t tell me about all the exceptions, all the times you were able to multitask. The writing is never as fast or as good when you are distracted. And, for me at least, the writing is AT LEAST twice as slow when I can’t get off the dang internet.
- Know what does help you. For me it’s coffee and really quiet music. Some people like candles burning, others like silence. Some write best at a desk, and others prefer a comfortable couch to sit on. Whatever your preferences, set up the environment that is most conducive to YOUR writingstyle. If you need to sit in a silent room all alone, do that. Have the environment that helps you write best and quickest to best utilize that time you set aside ever day.
- Plan ahead and write ahead, if you can. If you have extra time on the weekends write ahead of your goals. That way if you get behind later or if you have a vacation planned, or Thanksgiving dinners scheduled, then you have a little bit of wiggle room. When you have extra hours of free time, use them. Weekends or nights with canceled plans are the best opportunities. I’ve also been known to write on my lunches at work. And once I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote until I was tired again.
- If you do get behind then schedule time to catch up. Same as the tip above, when you have extra time to write utilize it. Don’t beat yourself up or get too down when you get behind, a lot of people do, but set goals on how to catch back up. You could write 2,000 words a day until you catch up, or you could use a free Sunday and wrote 3,000 words to get back on track. Whatever works for you when you need to catch up, do it. Because a few thousand words don’t need to stop you in your tracks.
- Warn your family, friends, and loved ones that you will be a little bit insane over your protected writing time. If they know ahead of time then they are better prepared to respect the space and hours you need to accomplish your goals.
- Keep good track of your goals and progress. I set up an excel spreadsheet with formulas to calculate my daily and total word counts. (I even have a color scale that changes to show colors for my progress.) Then I input those word count numbers into the tracker on NaNo’s website. There are tons of trackers online that you can use as well.
- My last tip is to reward yourself. When you reach a daily/weekly goal, when you’ve stayed on track – reward yourself with something. If it’s a coffee, a piece of chocolate, a date night with your spouse, a shopping trip, whatever it is just go for it. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. HAVE FUN. If you stress out over your goals too much you may end up falling short. If you don’t have fun with NaNoWriMo what’s the point?