How I Plan To Survive NaNoWriMo
Despite promising myself 2013 would be the last time, I’ve decided to do it. I’m tackling NaNoWriMo again.
Last year I started off reasonably well. I managed to get out about 12,000 words before work got in the way and I fell too far behind. I spent the last two weeks being tortured by those daily NaNo email updates and I couldn’t even look at my word stats.
This year, I’m putting much less pressure on myself, because I know the same thing will probably happen again. I’m not aiming for 50,000 new words – instead, I’m working on an existing draft.
The idea behind NaNoWriMo is to write without inhibition, to get as much down as you can without any self-editing. I don’t think it matters how many words you write as long as you take advantage of that mindset to work towards a goal.
And there are some fantastic resources available to help you get there. Here are some of the ones I plan to use.
Write-Ins and Social Events
I’m normally not a social writer. I find other people distracting, and I tend to work best when I isolate myself in the library or at home. But I think being around people who are committed and inspired makes a huge difference when I have a specific goal to work towards. And sometimes I need to chat about my project to get excited about it again.
There are a lot of social events happening around Melbourne this year and I’m going to try and head along to a few.
The first Writers Bloc Write Here event happens to coincide with the start of NaNoWriMo. It’s set to take place from 11am at Thousand Pound Bend (361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne) on Saturday November 1. It’s a chance to get together with likeminded writers for a few hours, put your head down and get to work. There’s no pressure to workshop; it’s just a supportive place to meet other writers.
The following Saturday (November 8) the Nanowriters Meetup Group will be hosting a write-in session at Thousand Pound Bend. This one kicks off at 3pm and involves some workshopping and writing exercises, but at the end there’s a get to know you session (and since you’re already in a pub, you might as well have a drink). It runs every week until the end of November, and then every second week if you want to keep up with it after that.
I’ve also joined the official NaNoWriMo Melbourne group. They’re running a ton of events throughout the month, including weekly drinks at the Colonial Hotel (corner of King and Lonsdale Streets in the CBD), a Night of Manuscripting Madly at Complete Post (12 Thistlethwaite Street, South Melbourne), and The Second Annual Great Train Write-In.
If you check the NaNoWriMo forums for your region, I’m sure you’ll find similar events in your area.
Online Writing Sprints
Since we might as well be in on all of this madness together, Ricochet Magazine will be running weekly write-ins over on Facebook.
Our first one will be on Sunday November 2 from 11am AEST (use this time zone converter if you’d like to know what time that will be in your city). We’ll write non-stop for one hour, and we’ll have a few prompts to get you started, so if you want to join in just head over to our Facebook page, where you can post about how well you’re doing or chime in if you need some support.
I’m also going to keep an eye on the NaNoWriMo Twitter page, which runs daily writing sprints.
I always turn to writing exercises when I want to work out a character problem. Even calling something a writing exercise helps take the pressure off, and it often ends up being better than anything else I’ve produced that day.
There’s a fantastic workbook called Ready, Set, Novel! which was put together by the NaNoWriMo creators. It’s full of activities and tips to help you brainstorm, plan out your plot, create your characters and your setting. I’ve already scribbled all over it in preparation for November 1, but I think it will be especially helpful when I hit those inevitable brick walls.
If you’d prefer not to buy a workbook, there’s nothing stopping you from putting together your own list of activities or finding some online. The NaNoWriMo forums are an excellent place to start. UK website Writing Exercises lets you generate random images, words, character traits and story titles to aid freewriting.
Some people set themselves a big reward for the end of the month, while others prefer to give themselves small daily incentives. Since I’m very easily distracted by TV, I thought I might as well incorporate it into my routine. The sooner I write my 1,600 words for the day, the sooner I’m allowed to watch The Walking Dead. Sounds foolproof, right? (Right?)
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Share your survival tips!