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Friday, November 1, 2013

Scientifically Proven Methods to Surviving NaNoWriMo

 So, my ambitious young friend, you have decided to dare the dangerous waters of National Novel Writing Month. You have embarked on an epic quest to write a coherent novel, or 50,000 words of it, and keep your sanity intact.

That's adorable.

As the veteran of NaNo Campaigns past may I offer some tips to see you safely, and sanely, to the finish line?

1 - You Don't Have 30 Days
First and foremost, let's dispell the myth that you are going to have a Drama Free month and will get to write every day. It's not happening.

There's illness, holidays, Evil Day Job deadlines, book deadlines, agents making offers on the novel you're querying, and just days that don't have a free second to spare. It's cool.

You don't need all 30 days. If you miss a day, brush it off and move on.

1- WriteOrDie.com is Your Best Friend
Three writing sprints of 800 words a day will get you a novel by the end of the month. Go to Write or Die, set it like this:
Word Goal - 800
Time Goal - - (none)
Consequences - Normal
Grace Period - Evil


One of two things will happen, either you will realize the scene isn't fully formed in your head and die around 400 words (which is still 400 words than you had 5 minutes ago), or you'll hit 500 and fly past 1000 because the scene is working. Either way, three sprints of 800 words gives you 2,400 words at the end of the day, and a nice cushion for that day you get the flu.

3 - Give Yourself Time
You need to budget 2-3 hours a day for writing. That's a generous amount, and it seems like a lot, but it's not. Two to three hours is the time it takes an average-speed typist (like you) to write a little over 2000 words. Theoretically, if you type 50 word per minute you could write 3000 words in an hour. In reality, thinking about what you're typing slows the fingers down.

You will get faster as the month goes on.

You can break those three hours into smaller chunks (15 minutes before work, 20 minutes at lunch, another 40 minutes while dinner cooks). And if you can write 80 words in under 30 minutes, you're golden.

DO NOT: give up sleep, give up food, give up your workout, give up your loved ones... for NaNo. It's not worth it. Your brain needs downtime and a healthy body, skipping food, sleep, exercise, and social interaction (of whatever kind you normally get) will make you a worse writer.

4- Tell People What You're Doing
Let your family/roommates/co-workers know that you're carving 2 hours a day out for writing 6 days a week this month. Tell them what day you're free for fun stuff. Tell them you are recording all your shows and ask them not to spoil them for you. Tell them you will not kill the character named after them if they bring you tribute.

5- Clean Off Your Desk
Studies show that having a clean work area helps you focus. The clutter distracts you. So, if you're stuck and can't write, get up and tidy up. Clearing the trash out of your work area will lower your blood pressure and help free up the brain.

Keep your butt in that chair, 'wrimo fans, tomorrow I'll have some tips for getting out of the sinkholes of NaNoWriMo.

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