It’s Writing Wednesday again! This post will give you the five things you absolutely need to know to make sure you are properly set up to tackle the beast that is NaNoWriMo. Last week I told you three ways to prepare yourself so you might be wondering where this post differs? Last week was about getting you into the mood for preparing, this week we’re making sure you’re doing it right!
Tip 1: Set up your tools
This one is probably the most important. Make sure you have what you need and that it is fit for purpose. Are you using your laptop? Are you handwriting? Or are you doing a mix? Ensure that any programs you wish to use are up to date and you’re familiar with them. Don’t forget to check out nanowrimo.org for discounts and deals on writing programs for your PC or laptop. If you plan on using multiple platforms, e.g. a tablet for writing on the go, your phone for those midday epiphanies, and your laptop for the bulk of it, make sure they are all linked up so nothing gets lost. Speaking of which…
Tip 2: Back up your back ups
We live in a world of technology that makes our lives so much easier we sometimes forget to err on the side of caution. Having back up hard drives, online files and memory sticks can only be a good thing. Using something like Google Docs also means that if one platform goes down (perhaps avoid watching Netflix on your tablet in the bath this time of year) the document won’t be lost along with it. I know it can seem tedious to keep saving and resaving, not to mention how things like Microsoft Word encourage laziness with their autorecover feature, but it’s better safe than sorry in my eyes.
Tip 3: Clear out that work space
I know that my desk becomes a dumping ground for random letters and Sims paraphernalia more often than not, and don’t even get me started on my ever-growing ‘chairdrobe’. Make sure that wherever you will be working is clear and ready on 1st November. The first day is a Friday, meaning you might be working or at school/college/university all week before we begin. I know I’ll be away on holiday but that’s a whole other post. Remember that this is a work space, not just a desk. Do you have plans to keep active? Do you need a yoga mat or your exercise bike nearby? Do you need to stock up on snacks and caffeine? Have it all ready and waiting so that you have no delays. It is also a great way to prevent distractions and procrastination, sorry about that.
Tip 4: Stock up on resources
It might sound basic, but make sure you have what you need. This goes beyond caffeine and snacks, it’s about comfort and organisation. Are you the type of person that would want a new journal in case staring at a screen becomes daunting? Or the other way round, what’s the plan if your hand cramps up? Are you a colour code kind of writer? Or do you prefer to illustrate your writing for inspiration? Make sure you have the tools for all the extra bits that can fall by the wayside. Concept art and storyboard notes are just as vital if you need a push to get those words out.
Don’t forget comfort, either. Make sure you have whatever it is you need to be able to sit and write. Blankets? Candles? Self-soothe boxes for those emotional scenes? Mindfulness tapes or meditation for focusing? It’s easy to treat this like a military task but being hard on yourself will only get you so far. Enjoy the process as much as you can!
Tip 5: Delete those apps
I’m not advocating or suggesting an entire social media blackout, for one the community is what makes it so great! But I have learned from experience that having all your apps across all your platforms can really take over your day to day life. For NaNo, I intend to delete all social media apps from my smartphone. If I want them, they will be on my iPad which can be switched off until I need it. That way, I can compartmentalise what I’m doing. When I’m at work, I’m fully focused on my job. When I take a break to see friends and family, I’m fully engaged with them. When I’m blogging and networking, I can do it all from one platform in my allocated time. Most importantly, when I’m writing I can leave all my other responsibilities alone knowing they are looked after.
If you can’t live without your social media, or maybe you didn’t have any to begin with, consider what your distractions might be and how best to get the most out of everything. Very few people who are doing this will be full time authors. A lot of us have other responsibilities and some may even feel guilty or worried that these will suffer for our art. If we can maintain our focus on specific areas of our lives, one at a time, then we don’t need to worry about sacrifice.
So these are my five tips for setting yourself up for NaNoWriMo. Do you have any to add? Let me know in the comments! Next week I’ll be writing about how to work with timescales and temptation.
Thanks for reading!