Each of us will have our own way of doing National Novel Writing Month, and it is all about finding the best way that suits your style and your schedule. As NaNoWriMo takes place over 30 days with the aim of 50,000 words, the most common method is trying to write 1667 words a day which comes out at 50,010 words in total. Whether that is your preference or not, it is fundamental to understand how balancing timescales and temptations can hinder or support you in November.
1. Know Your Routine
It seems simple, but it is very easy to jump into NaNo without any kind of schedule or plan. Even if you are a Pantser, you need to figure out how you will fit your writing into your day to day. Grab a planner, in paper or electronic form, and use it to organise your current life. Do you work 9-5? Are you a full time parent or carer? Do you have a long-term condition that could impact your concentration or energy levels? For our US writing buddies, Thanksgiving might have a huge impact on NaNo. Get to grips with your diary in advance so that the writing can be the main focus.
If, like me, you’re a #PlannerAddict then you might want to check out the Passion Planner. Use my link here to get 10% off. There is also a massive birthday sale at the minute with up to 60% off so it is worth having a look!
2. Rigid or Flexible, Choose Wisely
Now that you know your routine and schedule for November, you can figure out where that writing will fit in. Planning to sit for two hours every evening and write 1667 words might be perfect for you if your schedule is consistent and your concentration unyielding. Setting yourself a timer and engaging with word sprints on social media might help on the tougher days with this routine.
Even though I’m not able to write until around 7pm each evening in the week, I don’t have a strict regime planned. I might well write 500-1000 words a night and then make up the remainder over the weekend when I am more available. It might suit you to know that there are five Saturdays in November: the 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, and the final day of the month. If we exclude the 2nd, you can aim to write 12,500 words by each Saturday and reach the goal of 50,000 by the 30th. Some writers like to do what is called Reverse NaNo where you start by writing 3346 words on the first day and slowly reduce your word count until you write just one word on the last day! Learn more about this method here.
3. Avoid Boom and Bust
Boom and Bust is a known consequence of having low motivation or low activity levels and then changing your routine dramatically. People will naturally experience this burst of motivation and try to do a lot of things at once. Initially, this can be hugely productive and really satisfying, but the results can also be fatigue and uncertainty. This can lead to the ‘bust’ part where a person returns to the stage of low motivation and not doing anything. Consistency is fundamental in managing this.
Part of Preptober can be getting used to writing consistently without working on your novel. By writing little and often, it is less likely that when NaNo comes you will write tons on the first day and then nothing for a week. It can be very tempting to get it all out on the first day and write thousands of words, almost as if you’ve finally been let off the leash. There is nothing to say that this isn’t a great way to start but try not to use this as an excuse to not write for a few days afterwards. Try to write every single day for the first week regardless of how many words you churn out. If you write 5,000 on day 1, it isn’t a reason to not write any more until day 4 to even it out.
4. Keep Your Commitments
It can be really easy to think that NaNo requires you to shut yourself away and only write for 30 days. Budding author or seasoned bestseller, you need to look after yourself. Your novel won’t write itself but you won’t be writing anything worth reading if you haven’t seen the light of day or friends and family in days! Keep up with your social life, your other hobbies, and your responsibilities. If you want tips on self-care that won’t break the bank, check out my blog post.
Keeping your loved ones in the loop while you are tackling NaNo can be really useful if you’re the type to let things fall by the wayside. Don’t forget to make time for them, too, even if it is just a phone call to check in.
5. Be Kind To Yourself
Some of us can really benefit from self-pressure and self-criticism. There is even a biological explanation for this and there is a point where these traits can improve our productivity and abilities. However, if we start to beat ourselves up or set our expectations too high, we run the risk of not even enjoying it anymore. Showing ourselves some self-compassion can be vital to success in November, and as writers altogether.
If you notice that being hard on yourself is something you are particularly good at, and think it gets in the way of your writing, check out these resources on how to be more self-compassionate.
Hopefully as we inch closer to NaNoWriMo these five tips on mastering timescales and temptations can be useful in your preparation stages. If you have any questions or thoughts, let me know in the comments!