Welcome to November, and National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo)! This is a worldwide project where people try to write 50,000 words in one month. That’s about 2,000 words a day. Usually this is taking the form of a novel (though not always) and usually the goal is to go from beginning to end.
However, this is not about writing a great novel. It’s not even about writing a good novel. “Quantity, not quality!” is the mantra. As Neal Gaiman put it in his 2007 pep talk:
You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
The point of it is to get yourself past that idea that you can’t write. It is about realizing that you can, in fact, produce a work even when you’re supporting a family of four as a self-employed multimedia consultant (as I was). I’ve done the project twice successfully, once unsuccessfully, and no longer “compete” because I am, in fact, a writer and published author.
I owe that in large part to the NaNoWriMo concept, which is why this entire month of LoveLifePractice is dedicated to the NaNoWriMers, in the hopes of giving them inspiration, practical tools, and reminding them of the promise of an unforgettable feeling of success when they cross that finish line 50,000 words oso away.
If you haven’t heard of it and it sounds interesting, it’s not too late to sign up! Me, I’m more of a support team this year for my daughter Kat, but if you are doing it, let me know and I’ll be glad to tailor these posts to you, my valiant Writing Warrior friend.
My Five Best NaNoWriMo Practices
For starters, here are my five key practices that make writing easier:
- Shut Off Distractions! I mean all of it. Airplane-mode your phone. Shut off wi-fi. Put on headphones. Build a wall of fire around yourself. DO NOT RATIONALIZE. “Oh, I need to be reachable.” Reachable is for when you’re not writing.
- Ruthlessly Carve Out Writing Time. “Oh, but I can’t be off the grid for an hour of writing!” That’s what I mean by rationalizing. I can totally believe that might be true – but I bet you can be off the grid for fifteen minutes. Pull out your keyboard and write. Or your notebook. Or that napkin. Got five minutes? Write. Every. Spare. Moment.
- Reward Yourself for Writing. Writing is when you get coffee. Writing is when you get to listen to your favorite music. Writing is when you sit in the comfy chair. Writing is when your partner rubs your shoulders (see number 4). Give yourself rewards for every thousand words, or even five hundred (but not less). Condition yourself to love the environment of writing, because the act? “Just sit down at the typewriter and bleed,” is how it has been described.
- Enlist Allies. Get your partner/friends/co-workers/complete strangers stoked about your word count. Explain that this is a special month, and that in December things can go back to normal, but for November, you need their help. Writing buddies are great, especially in person when you can glare at each other over the screen and growl “Write!” But social media works too; I finished my first NaNoWriMo at 2:30am on November 29th with friends all over the country cheering me on as I neared the 50,000 word mark. The shared jubilation makes my heart swell to this day.
- Anything but writing is procrastination. You will have the urge to outline your plot more thoroughly. To create character profiles. To configure your writing app to just the right font, or to browse for cover art, or brew a better cup of coffee, or to look for “yoga for creativity” videos on YouTube (you don’t have to, I posted it below). You’ll desperately want to edit and re-write. Don’t. That’s what December is for. This month is about writing, and when you find yourself doing anything except putting the words on the screen/paper/napkin – stop it. Write.
I know, these don’t seem like real “lifehacks”, do they? I didn’t suggest you download any apps, I didn’t give you a guided meditation to unlock your adverbs, I didn’t link you to a google calendar that shows the optimum time for writing. That’s because all of those things are things that you can do later.
After. You. Write.
(Got your word count done for the day? Great! Here’s some yoga to get you “unlocked” for tomorrow:)
Did you find this post useful?
Please share the love by re-posting it for others.
You might also want to
become a Patron!