How to keep up with NaNoWriMo

by Jess Wilby on November 14, 2017

A few weeks ago we had some technical difficulties in the Shores office. My ipad wouldn’t connect to the wifi, so I tried the classic ‘on and off‘ trick which usually solves all tech issues. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. In fact, my tablet wouldn’t switch back on at all.

Long story short, it required a factory reset. A complete wipe of all files, which was fine until I realised that my iCloud had only backed up my photos. Not my notes.

Tucked away among meeting notes and shopping lists was four chapters of a novel I’d been writing. All the character profiles I’d built and an in depth timeline of events. It all turned into digital dust because my iPad fancied a nap.

I’m telling you this because we’re half way through National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and even if you feel like you’re lagging behind, you still have more material to work with than me. What you’ve created so far is amazing, your ideas alone are worth carrying on and your determination in just reading this (hopefully motivational) blog post is astounding.

You’ve got this!

That said keeping up with the 1667 a day word count can be hard, but even if you’re stealing moments here and there to write half that word count on your lunch break you should be proud. Don’t take your creation for granted. Keep going and see where the story takes you.

Let it flow, edit later
It’s tempting to go back and remove a chunk which doesn’t fit or add a context that justifies a character’s actions. Don’t. Make a note, carry on and get it finished first.

Think of this as a first draft. If you start going back and adding context, you will feel as if you’re pouring out your word count without actually progressing towards the end goal. Not only this, but once you allow yourself to go back and change things you become tempted to edit more and more. This behavior breeds a negative mindset that will leave you bored of your story when it’s only just getting started.

Publish as you go
Showing your work is of course a scary thought for most writers. We’re shy creatures who just need a quiet space and a hot drink to write. Alas, the world is waiting for your magnum opus.

We suggest starting a either a Tumblr, Wattpad or account where you can publish chapters/updates as if they were blog posts to easily catalog your work. This keeps you on your toes and you get that satisfying ‘publish’ moment every day.

Focus on what you’ve done, not what you’ve missed
Two weeks ago your novel was an idea, now you have a base. Instead of feeling guilty for falling behind on the word count, show yourself some gratitude for sticking at it regardless. So you’re 2000 words short? You’ve still got a great idea and a few chapters started.

Carry a note book
You might not be able to write at every opportunity you get. Perhaps your phone battery has died or you left your laptop at home. If that’s the case you need to go back to basics. Carry a notebook and pen to ensure you never forget a good plot twist when you think of one. Scribble down dialogue and inspirational notes during your day whenever the moment takes you.

By doing this, you reinforce the idea that your thoughts are valuable. Instead of letting inspiration float away, write it down and think it over.

You don’t have to be perfect
A 30-day novel doesn’t need to be a New York Times Best seller and unfortunately the chances of it being one are slim, but knowing that gives you the freedom to create something that could be a stepping stone. NaNoWriMo is all about flexing your creative skills and honing your novel writing talent. Your participation is a learning curve but you can still have fun. Take the pressure off by understanding that your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

In a sense, you can pretty much apply this to just about any creative challenge. When we posted about Inktober, we were struck by how many people found the pressure of daily uploads a burden. By releasing yourself from the stress of your own expectations, you’ll reach a new level of creative freedom. When it comes to following prompts like this you are your only critic, which of course is a blessing and a curse, but if you don’t power through that little gremlin that says ‘you’re not good enough’ how are you ever going to get to a point where you are good enough by your own standards?

NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a challenge, but it’s also supposed to be fun. Forgive yourself for your off days and don’t lose heart. Who knows, your 30 day novel might just be the beginning of a glittering writing career.


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