NaNoWriMo is a crazy month where hundreds of thousands of people works towards the goal of writing 50,000 words for their novels. Even though I try to make time to write every day, I love the community of writers that rise up in November to encourage one another forward towards their goal. The forums and the Facebook group are incredibly helpful and, without them, NaNoWriMo would feel much more lonely and long. In fact, it is a big reason why I love this month.
But if I’ve learned anything this month, it’s that one method doesn’t work for everyone. I have very specific things I do to keep myself motivated to keep writing, but those methods might not work for everyone. What’s important, is finding out what works for you and sticking with it! It’s been a year of trial and error, but now I have my settled routine, and I got into the groove just in time for November.
Here’s what I did:
- Write-O-Meter, which I have mentioned before, is one of the most helpful tools I have. It helps me to keep track of my goals, to keep track of my word count, and keep track of my motivational rewards. This is the one thing that I would say, no matter what your style or method is, will be helpful for your writing.
- Scrivener has stolen my heart completely. I love how flexible the program is for writing and, just like Write-O-Meter, I think that any author would find it useful for increasing their productivity and organization, even if it does come with a slight learning curve.
- Motivational rewards, are a huge part of my process. Delayed gratification. I can’t refill my cup of coffee until I write for 30 minutes, or I can’t play SWTOR until I’ve reach my word count goal for the day, or I can’t go out for fancy coffee until I’ve caught up with my total word count. I’m a master of self-motivation, so I learned how to work with this method a long time ago, but it takes a lot of discipline to be effective.
- Celebrating small victories is the other half of motivational rewards. In order to keep excited about what I am writing, I can’t let myself get bogged down with disappointments in myself. Rather than letting myself become depressed that I didn’t make the word count for the day and or that I’m behind, I celebrate the fact that at least I found 25 minutes to write that day, or that I got 300 words down instead of zero. And not only being okay with those small accomplishments, but rewarding myself for those tiny steps taken, because every little bit really does help.
- Planning ahead is, of course, a big part of my momentum. It is so helpful for me to figure out all of the details and moving parts and what my characters are like and how they will evolve before I even begin writing. This way, I don’t have to brainstorm in the middle of the process, and slow myself down. Of course, I allow myself plenty of freedom to add a needed scene to develop a relationship, or if I realize something needs more attention or needs to happen in a slightly different order, but when those things come up, I just make a new scene card (with Scrivener) and write that scene. Then I continue as planned.
- The Morning Routine was a huge part of my success this month. Since I work from home and self-employed, my shower is incredibly flexible. So, every single morning, I would get up, make my morning latte, get my Spotify playlist going, and write! I tried to wake up early enough to give myself an hour of writing before I needed to do anything else that day. And I would bust out what I could and then, if there were other things I needed to do, I would do them. When my other responsibilities were fulfilled, I employed some self discipline and wrote some more. Usually, by the time evening came, I had reached my word count for the day, and had the evening free to spend time with my husband.
- Winning and Winning. Winning NaNoWriMo is a very specific thing: reach 50,000 words. It’s a great concrete goal, and a nice thing about the month, and is the biggest part of my motivational rewards. Since I started working on THE BLESSED prior to this month, I was tempted several times to boost my word count by including those previously written words ‘just in case’, but I had to restrain, push myself towards an honest win, and that really helped my self discipline. But of course, NaNoWriMo is also about getting your story out, not just how many words you write. So, I also win by getting my story out of my head, out of the outline, and into an actually narrative. Realizing that I am winning simply by writing, makes it easier for me to push on to that second win of 50k.
- Self Discipline. This month, I prioritized writing. That meant, that I often didn’t do other things I love for the sake of the word count. Of course, I didn’t go overboard. I still did stuff with friends, at church, with the theatre, my job, made plenty of home cooked dinners, and even had an out of town guest! But, when I had free time, I would write instead of playing video games, I would write instead of watching Netflix, I would write. But, because of pre-mentioned things, it didn’t feel like a chore. Instead, I found that spending my free-time writing, increased the amount of fun I had writing.
These things work for me, they might not work for you, but I truly believe that everyone can achieve 50k during NaNoWriMo. Just figure out what works for you! Maybe try out a few of my methods if you haven’t before, or see what other authors do for ideas.
I’m a big believe in going after your dreams and making them reality, but every big dream requires hard work, and, I have found, the pay off is always worth it.