Friday, October 23, 2015

NaNoWriMo: My top 10 tips from winning two years running!

My first ever win!

In just several days it will finally be NaNoWriMo time! And you know what that means? PREPARATION TIME!
Usually I would have a plan by now but due to work and university I am so behind that it's not funny! I've got numerous ideas floating around but nothing that I actually have the desire to look into further. However, winning NaNoWriMo for two years in a row since I discovered it, I have a few tips and tricks that may or may not work for you! Read on and try these out to see what suits you best!

My second year!
  1. Plan at least a week ahead. It's literally a week until NaNoWriMo starts and it's time to kick yourself into gear. Do you have an idea floating around? Several? Brainstorm, collate, gather some names for your characters and create your novel page on the NaNoWriMo website. Carry a notebook with you at all times (don't forget the pen!) and write down any ideas you get. Think of the genre, types of characters and time that your novel will be set in. What point of view will you be writing in? What is the strongest character to follow that can best communicate your story? Print out some character and world building worksheets. As you're relaxing at the end of a long day, stretch out on the couch with your phone or iPad and look up Pinterest ideas, worksheets, inspiration and any other stimulus that you find helpful in becoming creative! Collect spare sheets and clippings from magazines and newspapers.
  2. Speaking of clippings, store them in a folder! If you're a crafty person, buy a cheap folder and go on Gumtree and listings for items like material and cardboard and magazines for cheap or free to decorate your official NaNo folder with. I myself really want to do this idea this year. Use clean recycled thin cardboard and the tip of a sharp pencil to pierce binder holes if you're short of a hole punch. This way, you can separate your folder into sections such as character profiles and worksheets, world building, etc. By using recycled cardboard you'll be helping the environment and you'll be able to decorate your folder dividers however you want!
  3. Have your chapters planned, even in their most basic form. Even just "character a does this under this situation", it helps so much. This above all others may be an idea that just doesn't work for you. It may, it may not. It's all up to personal preference. Me, I need a chapter by chapter outline of what happens, what characters are going to be involved and I generally aim to write 2,800+ words per chapter. However, during NaNoWriMo I aim for the base of 1,667 words as this is the very least daily word limit required to reach 50k by the end of the month. Therefore, I have less within each chapter, but there are more chapters than I would usually write. This way, I can write a chapter a day and in 30 chapters it is generally slightly easier to pinpoint Act I, II and III as they're worth 10 chapters each. I usually change these up though so there are less chapters in the climax and more in Acts I & III to stop from hindering the novel's pace.
  4. Pinterest and WeHeartIt are great for inspiration. Whilst the NaNoWriMo website is excellent in finding support, other like-minded writers and help when you're lacking, I personally find Pinterest and WeHeartIt to be invaluable. Pinterest is the go-to app I use for when I don't have any energy to write but want to continue my creative juices. Looking up character and world building worksheets are great and the resources other authors - some self-published, others world-famous - are amazing and invaluable. Even if you don't look up directly writing-related resources, images that appeal to you or remind you of a feeling, character or event that are in your novel can be a great help. Often I find there are images and resources available that give me a fresh perspective and inspiration. Sometimes I just save images of pretty ladies and gorgeous men to use as visual references for certain characters. It helps in research for statistics and scientific and geographical references as well! WeHeartIt is more a visual application that can be downloaded on pretty much any device and online. I can sit for hours going through this app because while it's similar to Pinterest, all you see are pictures that you can 'heart' by double tapping your touch screen device. Locations, characters, worlds and plot twists can develop from these images. After all, a picture tells a thousand words!
  5. Update your word count every day. During NaNo it can be difficult to keep up but you'll be a lot more motivated if you actively update your word count every single day. Use rewards, whether it be food, yummy drinks, a break from your assessments or to sit down with a low alcohol beverage at the end of the long, long day. I like to update my word count once I've reached the quota and go on the Sims, watch a YouTube video from a favourite YouTuber or sit down to a yummy (but naughty) doughnut and warm chai latte! Whatever your weakness is, use it as your motivation to reach that minimum of 1,667 words every day!
  6. Use a calendar. Personally I keep a wall calendar on the door of my closet so I can glance at the month and see what I have coming up that day, week, month and year. It is so helpful and if I had the space, I would invest in a full year wall calendar. In addition, I set reminders using my Wunderlist app (free on Android and Apple) that keep me on track. I set aside a particular time of a night if I can just for writing and I plan break days where I write half that day's word count the day before and the other half the day after.
  7. Go to the gym (or exercise at home) to beat the writing blues. Now because I have recently joined up to the local Anytime Fitness in the past month, I find that it helps to increase my fitness (duh!), aids in minimising my stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia, and helps me to rewind. Whether you feel more awake before exercise, or after, plan to exercise around your writing time for whenever you feel most awake. I, for example, will be exercising after I write my word limit so I can rewind and go to sleep once I get home. Find what is best for you.
  8. Write a daily blog. This, I shall try. Not only does it help to get out your thoughts on paper or on screen, but it helps you to stay on track and also find like-minded people. Gain some followers and record your journey so when you succeed you can look back at all thirty entries and you can say, 'I did it.'
  9. Plan to have your snacks and coffee right next to your writing space during this time. Whether it means propping up a temporary table with a jug to boil your water and a mini bar fridge underneath to keep your milk cold, make sure that snacking and thirst are not a factor in stopping yourself from writing. Use them to your advantage. For example, for every 50 words give yourself a chip or sip of drink. If you don't have a mini fridge handy, find an ice box (esky here in Australia) or use long life milk that hasn't been refrigerated. Can't take the jug to your work space? Invest in a cheap thermos to fill up and keep it on the corner of your desk.
  10. Reached that daily word minimum but still have the energy and inspiration? Keep going until you're empty. Keep going until your fingers cramp and your brain stabs invisible needles into itself. Not really, but keep going until you run your inspiration dry and then some. Some days in the past two NaNoWriMo's I have gone days without writing because of either a lack of energy, motivation or inspiration and then I made up for it in one of those writing marathons full of energy and inspiration. Listen to your creative muse. Allow it to be released!
There we have it guys: my top ten tips. Not all of them will work, some will. Some won't. Just find your own path and find out what works best for you! Enjoy NaNoWriMo and keep an eye out for my daily NaNo blog!

1 comment:

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