Ten Tips for Surviving Nanowrimo

Ah, sweet November. Nanowrimo. Ah, unforgiving November.

This marks my fourth Nanowrimo. I already feel guilty starting this post when I should be working on my word count. So I’ll keep it brief.

I’m a working mom who has taken on the challenge like many of you to write a 50,000 word novel this month. It is exciting, daunting, terrifying, and at times you’re going to want to say screw this, I’m out! I know, I’ve been there. We all have. Here are a few tips to keep you going on your pursuit to 50k.

  • Make your novel your priority. We all have priorities and obligations, but in November, your novel should be one of the top.
  • Write anywhere at anytime.  I have my Netbook with me while I’m waiting for the kids during their classes. While one is swimming, I’m typing away. While I’m waiting to pick one up from karate, I’m in my car trying to knock off some dialog.
  • Work in chunks. When I think about writing 1,667 words a day, I cringe. Instead I promise myself smaller amounts. I also strive for more during the weekends in case life gets in the way during the week. So today I’m saying 250 words before breakfast. 500 before lunch. 250 during a tea break. And so on. It all adds up at the end of the day.
  • Keep the television off. I know you have your shows. If you have to watch them, record them and watch them only after you meet your daily word count.
  • Make Nano your Me time. Yes, you may want to unwind after a long day with work or the kids and want to read, watch a movie, or take a long bath. Rewire your thinking for this month. Your Me time is escaping into your novel. Once you meet your word count, then go ahead and reward yourself with something else.
  • Don’t forget your family. Okay, I feel guilty about this because I feel like I’m neglecting them when I’m writing my novel. Sometimes I get too absorbed in my novel, I forget about everything else. I try to find ways to do both this month. While they’re watching a movie, I sit in the living room with them and work on my novel. It’s not perfect quality time together, but at least we’re in the same room.
  • Forget house projects during November. Writing should be your priority this month. If the project can wait until December, let it sit.
  • Connect with others. Connect with writing buddies lcoally, at nanowrimo.org, or on social media.
  • Attend write ins if possible. Write ins are NaNoWriMo events at cafes, libraries, and other locations where you meet other Wrimos and focus on your novel for a stretch of time. It’s very inspiring to write as part of a group with a collective goal in mind — write a novel by November 30th.
  • Write, don’t rewrite. You can save the rewrites for December. Right now, focus on getting the first draft done.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful. Now I’ve got to go get back to my novel. And so should you!

Reaching the Winner’s Circle by November 30th gives you such a feeling of accomplishment, it’s such a thrill. And such a relief! Do something nice for yourself. You just wrote a novel, you earned it!

Lisa Carlisle’s 2012 novel Bloodlust and Metal was released by Ellora’s Cave this spring. She is writing the sixth book in her series Underground Encounters this November.

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