Welcome to NaNoWriMo, folks. I’m already tired of writing.
If you missed last week’s article, NaNoWriMo is a month-long writing challenge during which participants try to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That factors down to about 1,667 words (and a lot of caffeine) per day. It’s not easy and requires forfeiting an entire month’s worth of freetime, but you end up with a draft of a novel you wouldn’t have written otherwise.
Writing that much in such a short period of time is a daunting task, but there are things you can do to make it easier. So without further ado, here’s your comprehensive guide on how to hit 50k.
Set aside time to write and use the free time you have: Seriously. Find times during the day that work for you and write. Set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than normal and crank out 500 words before you even start your day. Set aside an hour after dinner, or whenever works for you, to work on your novel. Take out your laptop and write during those 15 minutes before class. Don’t underestimate how much you can get done in short periods of time. Use the freetime you have and roll with it!
Try not to fall behind! Budget your time: Not falling behind seems pretty obvious, but it’s a lot harder than it sounds. Life is busy and things happen. But it’s easy to go from being 1,000 words behind to 5,000 words behind to 10,000 and then giving up entirely. If you know you’re going to be super busy one day, try to get ahead by writing more than you need to one day. And if you do fall behind, don’t stress. It’s totally possible to catch up. As someone who once spent an entire Saturday writing 10,000 words in order to catch up, know this: You can do anything.
Drag a friend along with you: NaNoWriMo is so much more fun when you’re doing it with friends. Plus, having someone you know there to yell at you for procrastinating is always useful. It adds a bit of competition to the mix, because seeing your friend 3,000 words ahead of you can really kick you into overdrive and make you want to catch up. It also means someone else knows what you’re going through and won’t blame you for skipping out on plans. In fact, you can even make plans to sit in pajamas together and write. If you don’t know anyone in real life who wants to write with you, the NaNoWriMo website has chat boards designed for finding writing friends, and there are tons of Facebook groups too.
Word wars, sprints and crawls: NaNoWriMo has three types of “mini challenges” people often partake in to help them reach their word goals: word wars, sprints and crawls.
Word wars are challenges between two or more people to write as much as possible during a certain period of time, usually something like 20 minutes. At the end of that time, whoever wrote the most wins. There’s no prize, unless you and your friend want to make bets to buy each other coffee or the like, but it’s a fantastic way to make yourself focus and write for a definite amount of time.
Word sprints follow a similar idea, but rather than writing for a certain period of time, you and a friend compete to be the first to hit a certain word goal. If you’re doing a sprint to 500 words, the first to hit it wins.
If you don’t have a friend to do either word wars or sprints with, NaNoWriMo hosts their own on their Twitter, @NaNoWordSprints.
Lastly are word crawls. They’re mini story/adventure-type-things with a theme, and they give you a list of tasks to complete. A Harry Potter one I enjoy includes the task “You get locked out of your common room and Mrs. Norris finds you! You run with Harry, Ron and Hermione to the third door corridor, and you find a giant three-headed dog! After making it back to your dormitory safely, roll a die, multiply your roll by 100 and write that many words as you try to calm down.”
There are hundreds of them with themes from Star Wars to Disney to Friends and more. A list of them can be found at https://www.wikiwrimo.org/wiki/Word_crawl, but you can get people to make you personalized ones on the NaNoWriMo chat boards.
Best of luck hitting your word goals. Stay sane, make some coffee and write like the wind.
Courtney Gavitt is a Staff Writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.