The Winner’s Guide to Kicking NaNoWriMo’s Butt

Participant-2014It’s October 31 – which means Halloween to most people. But for those of us who write, it’s the day before National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, kicks off.

This year I’m actually writing a guide to “cheating” at NaNoWriMobecause I’ve found that although I’ve won 3 NaNoWriMos in the past, the setup isn’t ideal for my particular approach to writing book-length works.

Instead, I finally figured out how to turn NaNoWriMo to my advantage with a few hacks, so I’ve decided to share my tips and tricks throughout November. You’ll get to follow along as I write the guide, and hopefully use this stuff in real time to finally bust out a win this year.

If you want to sign up for those hacks, delivered straight to your inbox daily, CLICK HERE. You’ll be signed up to a special mailing list ONLY for NaNoWriMo hacks, delivered daily throughout November, and nothing else. No spam, no scams, no junk mail. Just NaNoWriMo-relevant stuff, daily.

Also note that this stuff won’t be posted here on my blog, so signing up for that list is the only way to get in on the action. So sign up already!

Now for those of you who like to play by the rules, here’s a short guide to getting into the right mindframe to win NaNoWriMo. I call it The Winner’s Guide to Kicking NaNoWriMo’s Butt.

Here are the steps you’ll need to take in order to win NaNoWriMo:

  1. Make an outline. Ideally, do this today – before the contest officially begins – because you’ll need this time to start brainstorming ideas and characters. You’re allowed to work on an outline and any other backstory ideas, character sketches, and what Sean Platt has called “development” info for your novel before November 1, so take advantage of this because you’re gonna need it.
  2. Start writing as soon as you get up on November 1. I’m not going to say that you must get to work exactly at the stroke of midnight, although many participants are so jazzed that they do. But I would definitely encourage all Wrimos to knock their daily word counts out early, because it’ll make procrastination that much less of a problem later on. A big part of writing is building good habits, and learning how to schedule your daily writing time is key.
  3. Always hit your daily word count. Yeah, I know. It’s the day after Halloween, it’s Saturday, and all you want to do is lie in bed gorging on candy and watching The Nightmare Before Christmas. But this month you’re a writer, and writers hit their word counts. Remember, if you’re in it to win it, you need to hit 1,667 words a day – every day. Don’t slack off one day and think you’ll make it up the next, because then you’ll start to snowball and soon you’ll need to be writing 10,000 words a day to make it all up. YIKES!
  4. Keep your creativity stoked. The usual tip for writers and other creative types is to remember to “replenish the well.” That means you need to always be on the lookout for new inspirations and ideas, as well as learning new things, in order to keep your creative juices flowing. Don’t let the well run dry. Take yourself on “author dates” – purely fun outings doing whatever it is that’ll make you happy. Hit up a museum, go for a hike, sign up for a cooking class, get some friends together for margaritas at your favorite bar, whatever – just make sure it’s something that’ll let you relax, enjoy, and savor someone else’s creativity for a change.
  5. Don’t be afraid to fail. So many people fail NaNoWriMo every year because they’re afraid of making mistakes. Ultimately, that means they’re afraid to fail. But you know what? You can win NaNoWriMo just by putting words on paper. ANY WORDS. Trust me, this is frequently how I have “won” in the past. If it’s your first NaNoWriMo, don’t be afraid to put words on the page. Any words on the page. Remember: perfect is the enemy of done. Get ‘er done. Worry about perfection later!

Have you ever done NaNoWriMo before, and will you be participating this year? Join my mailing list for hacks, daily, and let me know what you think!