No matter how many Novembers you’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), you may find yourself flagging around the middle of month. Do you dread hitting 25,000 or 30,000 words because your story always seems to fall flat? Are you stuck, bored, or just plain tired? This November, try these tips to keep you on track throughout the month.
Stick to Your Writing Time
Most of us have a time when our brains are at their most fresh and creative. For some it may be early morning; others thrive at night. Whatever the case, finding your peak writing time and sticking to it can help a lot on the road to reaching 50k. Nothing is worse than trying to slog through the daily wordage when you’re tired, bored, hungry, or otherwise distracted. Pick a time when you feel fresh and motivated, and you’ll see that attitude reflected as you write.
Give Sprints a Chance
Need a word boost? How about help getting your characters through a mundane scene? Word sprints can come in handy when your word count is falling behind or you’re not sure where to go next. Sprints can be hosted at NaNoWriMo write-ins, on the forums, or even via the NaNoWriMo Twitter feed.
To start a sprint, someone specifies an amount of time in which the goal is to try to write as many words as you can. Everyone begins at the same time and writes until the time is up. The benefit of word sprints is that they encourage you to keep writing without stopping, which is one of the hardest parts of NaNoWriMo.
Try “Write Or Die”
Write or Die is a one-person word sprint with a twist. Available as a free online application or paid desktop edition, Write or Die makes you keep typing-or else! To begin, you set a word goal, a time goal, or both. Then you choose how hard you want the program to be on you. The higher you set the “Consequences” and “Grace Period” options, the quicker the application will be to punish you for not typing.
The “punishment” varies, and there’s always fair warning. When you stop typing, the background screen of Write or Die begins to fade from white to red. Once it reaches red, one of a variety of annoying sounds plays. You may find yourself facing farmyard animal noises or the chorus of an irritating song. The only way to avoid having these sounds blasted at you is to keep typing until you reach your preset goal.
Talk to Other Wrimos
In addition to giving you the push to write the novel that’s been inside your head for years, NaNoWriMo is also a great opportunity to meet other aspiring writers. A quick trip to the forums allows you to interact with Wrimos from all over the world working in a variety of genres. The best part is that you all have one thing in common: you’re all experiencing the frustrations of trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Giving yourself a break to commiserate with other struggling Wrimos gets you away from that scene that’s been driving you crazy and can give you the mood boost you need to get back at it without losing your mind.
Get Out of the House
While procrastination can hinder word count, being so frustrated and bored with your novel that you’re ready to rip your hair out is a sure sign that you need to take a step back. When you find yourself ready to kill all your characters off and toss your computer out the window, get up and walk away. Leave your story alone for a while and give yourself a break. Go for a walk, play a game, or do whatever will recharge your writing batteries and help you look at your story with fresh eyes.
Even if you don’t want to stop writing, a change of scenery can help. Take your novel to the local coffee shop and treat yourself to an espresso while you try to figure out where your main character is going next. Or visit a local write-in to meet other Wrimos in person!
Hitting 50k doesn’t have to be as stressful as it sometimes seems. By giving yourself ways to push through tough spots and remembering to take a break from time to time, NaNoWriMo can be a fun and rewarding experience.