If Tea Can't Fix It, It's a Real Problem

29 October 2012

My darling sister (who does a much better job of regularly updating her blog, I might add) came up with a NaNoWriMo Surviver Plan, and the idea was such a brilliant one that I decided to foll
ow suit. With this being my third year of participating in NaNo, I feel that I have a better idea of what to expect than in years past. I hope the following tips are helpful to those of you who are participating this year (only 3 more days!). Also, keep in mind that I am not an expert on this subject and am only attempting to piece together bits of what I've learned over the years. Any advice you would like to share in the comments is always appreciated!

A Guide to Surviving NaNoWriMo (and coming out alive)

Prepare in advance. Trying to write 50,000 words with only shreds of a plot may be possible — and I'm sure some have done it successfully before — but it's not a route I would recommend. Use your spare time prior to NaNo to outline, research, craft your characters, brainstorm, and do everything else necessary to prepare yourself. By the time November rolls around, you'll feel much more prepared to dive in with both feet.

Dicipline yourself. The best way to write (especially when participating in NaNo) is to maintain some semblance of normality. Falling behind just two or three days can heighten your word-count goal alarmingly and give you fleeting thoughts of hand-wringing and hair-pulling. Writing a little each day  keeps your daily goal in bite-size pieces, and is much more effective than taking a break and spending all the next day pounding out 7,000 words that you'll regret later on. If you have to get up earlier or stay up later in order to keep on schedule, do so. The alternative is not a pretty one.

Don't stress over word count. Last year I made my word count my primary focus, and the writing that resulted was not to my satisfaction. Focus on your story, your characters, and your plot, and let the word count sort itself out. After all, when November is over and the luster of glory has dulled, will you take more pride in 25,000 words of brilliance or 50,000 words badly in need of editing?

Drink tea and talk of happy things. Everyone needs a break from writing once in a while, especially when they've already been at it for a long time with few results. Taking a few well-timed breaks for a walk, a cup of tea, or some lively conversation is often just the remedy needed to put the roses back in your cheeks. You'll come back to your work feeling greatly rejuvenated.

How do you plan on making it through NaNo?

5 epistles:

  1. Great post!! This is my third year doing NaNo, too. I'm very excited about this year's novel. This year my word count goal is 25,000, which is the most I've ever done, but I've done a LOT of plotting in advance this year.
    My advice for making it through NaNo? Lots and lots of chocolate. :)
    Good luck!

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  2. Ah! A fellow NaNo-er! This is my third year doing NaNoWriMo, and I definitely agree with your tips. My biggest goal is not to quit, even if I'm hopelessly behind on my word count. I have won twice, and it's important to me, but having fun and writing at least decent material is better. Best of luck!

    -larkin

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  3. A very helpful post, dear Elizabeth, especially for those new to the whole feel of NaNo like me... I am trying not to panic, but right now it is more of a frenzy of work and bustle to get everything ready (blog stuff, e-mails, fb etc...) prepared for my break, so much so that I have not done too much serious thought on my November plan... but, as I am working on 'The Crown of Life' and plan on writing in that during November, I hope I have a general idea of what I am doing!

    All the best for your NaNo writing this time through... by the way, what story are you going to work on during November?

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  4. Rebekah — Chocolate is always a must; I can't believe I forgot to include it in my list. :P

    Larkin — Quitting when I'm not satisfied with my writing is my biggest problem (and of course that doesn't really help matters, since we get better the more we write). But this year I plan to focus on my story, my characters, and the fact that my life will not end even if the progress bar doesn't turn purple. November is always going to be a busy month, but I want it to be a fun one, too. After all, what is NaNo if not enjoyable?

    Joy — Thank you! I'm glad you found the tips helpful. If it's any comfort, I too am practically out of my mind with worry over how I'm going to do this. I keep reminding myself of Matthew 6, specifically verse 34: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself."

    I am continuing with Rifles in the South Field for NaNo. I like it better this way, as I already have a feel for my characters and their story.

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  5. I got totally distracted by the Mr Tumnus music! I'm doing Nano too though it's the ywp

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"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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