7 Strategies for a Successful Nanowrimo
1. Use the hashtags to facilitate later name changes.
Someone really clever already explained how to implement this. This is an excellent way to make sure that edits are easier later as well as giving you the opportunity to Just Keep Going instead of stopping to work out a character sheet any time you need a new person to add. #Thatonefriend
2. Let wanderings, ramblings, and tangents abound. (oh my)
Nano is about shutting out everything else to do what you love. It’s about experimenting with a new style, or a new genre. It’s also about letting the plot wander where it needs to go. No matter how well you planned, characters tend to have a mind of their own. A plot point you thought needed one quick scene may turn onto a wandering path that sort of hits your point.
FEAR NOT. Do not start using the backspace. Do not select any portion and write over it. You can fix the sentence you are working on for spelling or for “oops, no, let’s change those two words” but let the novel go where it might and you can work on sitting it down for a long talk in December or January.
Use the generally neglected strikethrough option in your font formatting options if you know a section is not to be used later. It is ultimately as important to allow your creativity to wander off the path sometimes so that it can return to the plot as outlined.
3. Participate in a write-in.
This one is the best part. 11 months of the year writing is a very solitary activity. Even if you are in a critique group, or working with others to edit and polish your work, you are doing the original creation alone. Not so in November. This holy month is generally jam-packed with write-ins both physically near you and online via twitter, facebook, and the nano forums.
Participating in a write-in will (hopefully) help you up your word count with word wars and general motivation from everyone else around you also trying to meet their goals. Better, they will give you an opportunity to meet other people like yourself who are undertaking this crazy plan. You’ll meet people in and out of your genre, can exchange ideas, contact information and maybe start a whole new critique group—to start up in January of course.
A good way to find a physical write-in is to start with your region. Once you click on the region itself it should have a calendar you can use to plan your adventures. For online write-ins, word wars, etc, I would suggest starting on Twitter with either @Nanowrimo or searching #Nanowrimo, #amwriting, or #wordwar.
4. Check the forums.
Similar to a write-in, the forums on the Nano site explode with activity in November. From people posting in the “reference desk” section looking for or offering advice on topics they are experts in, to people who are looking for or offering advice in how to get unstuck, the site is a wealth of support and pseudo-research. While the forums are technically up all year (last I checked), they are most active in November. If you want to spare yourself a long string of awkward google searches using the forums is a great way to rest your creativity a few minutes, or get it primed to go again.
5. Get some Writing Buddies.
Either from your local write-ins, or IRL friends who are participating, leverage the awesomeness that is having other people you know being creative too. Do you like friendly competition? Challenge your buddies to meet the day’s count first, winner gets to offer up a writing prompt for something to include in your plot or name a character.
Like sneakier competition? Pick a buddy or a couple buddies who either write at times opposite your own or write consistently enough and keep trying to surpass them. Seeing numbers increase around you may give you the motivation to leave those dishes behind and keep your butt in that chair just that little bit longer, helping you get to 50k sooner.
6. Embrace breaks when needed.
Breaks in routines, breaks from your writing session, whatever you need to keep your mind fresh and the words coming is what you need to do. Marathon writing sessions won’t necessarily be the ambrosia to your word count. You need butt in chair time, but that doesn’t mean it has to all be at once. If you feel fidgety, challenge yourself to get another 250 words (or less or more depending on your writing speed in general) and then go for a quick walk.
If your characters all start arguing when they should have been working happily together it’s probably time to make your bed and figure out what really started it . Taking breaks and turning in when you think you know what happens next isn’t giving up—it’s acknowledging that you still need the things that keep a mammal sane like sustenance, general hygiene, and interpersonal interaction.
7. Enjoy your story.
If you find that the idea you thought was going to be great isn’t working, it’s okay to put that bit on the shelf for now. Perhaps the forums will help you find a twist or turn that refreshes the idea for you. There’s also an entire section for plot bunnies if you need a bigger change.
Change the setting, the characters, the conflict and just keep going.Don’t let the expected plot walls stop you. Try not to lose all your momentum. You can always come back and rewrite what is there to fit your new details if it works out. It’s more important to enjoy what you are doing and keep going than for everything to make sense and be perfect when November ends.
Now get back to word count! You’ve got this!