NaNoWriMo 2017 Report - April Summer Camp!
April 2017 marks my 4th (likely) successful NaNo attempt. As of 4/24/17, I am sitting at 42,117 words written of my 50,000 word goal. Overall, I've tried the NaNo contest 5 times now, and I've only lost once. From what I know of most other authors, winning comes scarce and an overwhelming majority of writers fail before they get too far off the ground. So here I plan on breaking down the useful tips and tricks I've developed to ensure my own writing goes along smoothly.
Firstly, here's a look at my chart:
The First Takeaway = I knew I wouldn't have time to write the first weekend of NaNo this year. I had an appellate brief for the KY Supreme Court due that Monday in law school and obviously, that takes precedent over NaNo. One of the keys to staying ahead of the graph is to plan ahead. I knew the weekend would ruin my progress, so I made sure to bust out 9,000 words on day 1. How did I write so much? Well, I have a pretty boring social life... and I outlined before I began writing!! That's a huge step. Don't just sit down and expect literature to fly from your fingers like wine from a golden fountain. That isn't going to happen. Instead, just plan ahead and make a decent outline before you get ready to rock and roll.
The Second Takeaway = I've never had a good cabin. These guys tend to chat a bit which is fun, but they don't write. Competition motivates me far more than it should, and my cabin provided none this year. No one is even close. Some good advice might be to get writers you know to make your own cabin to hold each other accountable.
The Third Takeaway = Even if you get behind, getting ahead isn't that difficult. So many people I've talked to have said they missed a day or a weekend upfront and then quit. Well.. that doesn't work. Look how many days I ended below my goal line? There's a bunch. But guess what? Just going 400 - 600 words over your daily target the next day and the day after that does wonders to make up that lost ground. If you persevere, you'll make up the words.
The Fourth Takeaway = This one is key. I heard a vital piece of advice a couple years ago that has helped my writing tremendously.
"The best way to find the time to sit down and write a novel is to throw your cell phone in the ocean."
That is so true. This is going to sound super obvious and perhaps even a little childish, but removing distractions is the best thing you can do for yourself and your book. Seriously. I leave my phone on the kitchen table when I head into my office to write. But—this comes with a caveat. If you sit down at the trusty keys and nothing flows out for you, don't stare blankly at the screen for 2 hours doing nothing. Give it a solid 15 minutes. If the magic isn't happening by then, just stop. Sitting and brewing on your frustration just makes you hate your novel. That isn't conducive to writing the next best-seller. Come back in an hour or 2 after you hit writer's block and see if things flow better then. Still not feeling it? Go edit one of your chapters. Try to sneak a couple hundred words in while you edit to get the creative juices flowing. Then if it works, it works. If not? Go to bed and tackle it the next day.
The Fifth Takeaway = Here's some advice which has probably doubled my writing speed. Don't stop your day's writing session at the end of a chapter. Never do it that way. Always stop in the middle of a chapter. Think of it like this - if you stop reading mid-chapter on your favorite book, you're going to come back and open the pages pretty soon to finish that chapter. If you stop at a natural conclusion, there's a good chance you never pick up the book again because it isn't on your mind. The same holds true for writing. If you stop a session in the midst of an epic combat scene, you're going to sit down to write again in an hour or 2 and crank out another 2k words. Multiple 1k+ writing sessions per day is the key to NaNoWriMo. Don't try to write 2k every single time you sit at the keyboard. Write in small chunks, but write more often. And always, end your session at an interesting part!
I hope you enjoyed my lessons learned by 5 trips through the National Novel Writing Month gauntlet. If you have advice of your own, leave it in the comments below. Like this post? Sign up for the newsletter to never miss a single one.