It’s November 1st which means for many of us the NaNoWriMo challenge is underway and sleep is already evading participants.
If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s a project where writers from all over the world try to write a 50,000 word novel within the month of November. You can read all about the project here and on the NaNo website. It’s also not too late to join us for the challenge this year!
I first started participating in NaNo in 2012 and I’ve had varying results every year since! It’s been great for me to learn how I work with deadlines, how to manage my priorities, and how to cope with my mental health when I’m so busy. The first time I failed to reach the 50,000 word goal in 2014, I admit I was devastated and I felt like a failure. But I had also just started studying creative writing at university. I was writing but I wasn’t writing my NaNo project and somehow, my priorities got mixed. In 2014, NaNo was more important than university.
Every year since then, when I failed to reach the word goal, I didn’t mind. I was proud of myself for trying. I put in the effort I could and did my best and that’s the important part. I’ve learned a lot since 2012 so here are my NaNoWriMo Survival tips!
- Write something you’re interested in reading. If you don’t, you won’t be interested in writing it.
- Sleep is your friend, not the enemy! It’s no good trying to write when you’re tired and unable to concentrate. Sleep, take a nap, go to bed and writing will feel easier.
- Caffeine does actually help.
- Don’t forget to eat! NaNo is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you set yourself up with a good breakfast and lunch.
- Take regular breaks. When you feel like your concentration waning, stop. Make another cup of tea, grab a snack, check your social media, read a page of a book, do something else! Come back after half an hour with a fresh mind.
- Reward yourself every time you hit a word goal. It’s so much easier to write when you have an incentive!
- Set yourself time to catch up if you fall behind. Life happens, especially with Bonfire night and Christmas coming up. Figure out how long it takes you to write 1,666 words and plan extra time to catch up if you need it.
- Don’t bother editing. Through the whole of November, do NOT go back, re-read and edit what you’ve written. You’re wasting time and NaNo has their “What Now?” months for all the editing.
- Remember to go out and spend time with friends. Human contact is important! It might be tempting to shut yourself away and focus on writing, but don’t. Going outside, meeting people and speaking to friends can hugely help with making your characters more realistic.
- Have fun! If NaNo stresses you out then perhaps it’s not the right time for you to participate, perhaps you have too much going on, perhaps your story isn’t ready to be written. It’s nice to finish the 50,000 word count but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get there. The experience and the attempt can be just as satisfying as finishing. Make sure you can describe your time participating in NaNoWriMo as enjoyable!
I hope these tips help, especially if you’re a first time participant! Let me know if you’re participating and link me to your username on the website so we can all encourage each other.
You can check out my story for this year and my progress here.