5 Tips to Take On NaNoWriMo 2018

It's that time of year again! Time to binge eat the chocolate, cocoon ourselves in a curtain of blankety warmth and scream in silent (or loud, or into a pillow, whichever floats your boat) frustration at all the things we still have to do before the sun disappears below the horizon on an evermore increasing scale.

Nope, it's not Christmas, or New Year, or any other festive holiday that's occurring in the not to distant future... it's nearly NaNoWriMo time!

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, where throughout all of November challengers are asked to write 50,000 words of whatever their hearts desire. 1667 words a day may not seem like a lot at first, but when you're on Day 14 and trying to force your brain to squeeze out those 5000 words you're behind on, it's like trying to ring out a drop of water from some bone dry sponge in the middle of the desert to a person  who hasn't even been able to pee in several days.

You know, like when trying to finish the essay question on your GCSE paper. Or A Levels. Or university disserta... you get where I'm coming from, right?
As someone who has been at this for a few years now (I can't even say 'third times a charm', this year is attempt number four) I think I can say that I have a firm-ish grasp of what to expect during the next thirty days. If nothing else, I know what my pitfalls are, what distracts me (think the human embodiment of Dug from Up... SQUIRREL!) and how I may possibly just make this year the first year that I reach the illustrious 50,000th words. So if you too are planning on throwing down ye old gauntlet next month, or even just considering it, here are 5 Tips on how to take on NaNo 2018.

Feel free to throw this post lovingly back in my face come December:

1) "All We Have To Decide Is What To Do With The Time That Is Given To Us"
Despite how quickly this year seems to have gone, thirty days is still a pretty long time to write continuously - PACE YOURSELVES! Or you shall not pass! One mistake I made in my first two attempts is that I tried to write the first 10,000 words right off the bat, in anticipation of any days down the line when I had writers block/forgot/life got in the way. What resulted was me knackering myself mentally and physically within the first week, leading to taking the entire second week off to recuperate, leading to frantically trying to catch up in week 3 before inevitably throwing in the towel before as the end came into sight. Instead, work towards the daily goals; whether it be bashing out the 1667 words in an hour, or trying for 500 words a few times a day. If you get on a roll and exceed that goal, fantastic! If not, then head to my next point.

2) "David Beckham's Right Foot. David Beckham's Left Foot, Come To That"
Lumping yourself with yesterdays word count baggage is going to do nothing more than stress you the hell out. You think Becksy would've been able to score all those goals if the weight of the ones he missed were poured into his boots? Hell no! (Also, what is this analogy?!) He would have broken both his feet, and then we wouldn't have had Hugh Grant's awesome speech in Love Actually. So fuhgeddaboutit! Restring yourself a new goal net and keep on kicking, and give that big bully of a week/month goal a flip of the double birds. At the end of the day, remind yourself that you've got this. You've just got to keep going. One day at a time.

3) "Do, Or Not Do, There Is No Try"
One of the things I regret about the third time trying to complete NaNo, was that I attempted to do it by myself; it may come as no shock to you all that attempt three was my worst to date, as I had no one there to encourage me to continue on when all my motivation disappeared in favour of binge watching the latest series on Netflix. So if you can, find yourself a NaNo buddy - or even several buddies - to help hold yourselves accountable. It can be a family member who'll sit on your back and call you out when you're procrastinating, or a friend who's also giving NaNo a try that you can sit with and work on your separate novels together. If in doubt, you can also find fellow writers in your local area through the NaNoWriMo 'Regions' page and find if there are any hosted Write-Ins to attend, or even set up a group tag through Twitter if you're more into online support. Either way, there's nothing quite like seeing someone's numbers going up to inspire you to increase your own progress. Hey, we may not be trying to haul an X-Wing fighter out of a swamp with our minds, but using them to write that many words in such a short space of time? Quite impressed, Yoda would be!

4) "Fuel Is Food... Now Shut Up and Eat Your Garbage"
Whether you've been on a roll and suddenly discovered it's dark outside, or are using it as a reward for every X amount of words you've written - DON'T FORGET TO EAT, PEOPLE! It doesn't have to be a fantastic, three course, French-Parisian meal every time, but setting aside breaks to eat and drink something nourishing is going to keep your tank going for so so so much longer. Plus, it gives you something else to focus your mind on if you're struck with the dreaded writers block; take a notebook into the kitchen with you, start making some soup, et voila! (Hopefully!) Whilst treats like, say, a piece of chocolate for every 100 words you type is excellent motivation (if you have the restraint of course - that bar of Oreo Diary Milk would be gone before I'd finished my first paragraph!) maybe once in a while try to down something healthy. One time last November I tried to hit my daily target when I had nothing but Doritos, bread and Diet Coke to hand, and somehow simultaneously ended up wired, tired and uninspired. Oh, and on the toilet too. Not an easy place to write from, it turns out! So no matter what happens, look after yourselves this month, people.

5) "You Do You, Boo"
You can read all the sodding advice in the world, but at the end of the day everyone has a different writing style; things that work for me may not work for you, and vice versa. Prefer handwriting to sitting at a computer all day? Great! Need to work in a coffee shop because there's too many distractions at home? Awesome! Only have limited time to reach your goal that week so bang out 10,000 words in one sitting? Fantastic! (and also, tell me your secret?!) Ultimately, it's up to you to work out what's best for you, whether it takes 30 days, 4 years or even longer to learn. Try stuff out, scrap what sucks and hold close the stuff that doesn't. It doesn't matter if you reach 50,000 words or five, want to publish your work or are just doing it for a bit of fun - enjoy the ride and, if nothing else, learn a little bit more about yourself along the way.

Apparently, I like crap analogies and using movie quotes. Who'd have thunk it, huh?

If I haven't completely put you off with my gross desert/peeing descriptions, maybe you'd like to give NaNoWriMo a go yourself! Feel free to head to their website to sign up (before anyone asks, no I'm not sponsored) then come find me on my socials - let me know this post brought you here, and we can do this thing together!

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