“A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins.”
Honestly, where has November gone?! One minute, all us writers were frantically planning those last minute chapters. Then, without warning, NaNoWriMo ended!
This year, I completed NaNoWriMo for the first time, winning with a total of 50,218 words. I am so overwhelmed with how well things went. Despite suffering from an intense bout of writers block and an awful lot of procrastination on some days, I worked incredibly hard and got the outcome I wanted. It just goes to show that if you are determined and you put the work in, then you can pretty much do anything you want.
But, to everyone who struggled and to those who didn’t quite reach their own personal goals for whatever reason, I’ll share some tips that helped me succeed this year. If you plan on writing through December to get to that 50K, or you’re thinking about giving it another shot in 2019 to be a NaNoWriMo winner, hopefully this post will give you a little help!
Push yourself more than you ever have.
This is the most important thing! You need to be determined. I knew 50K was a LOT of words. However, I didn’t quite realise how much it was until I got started on day one. I wanted to write chapters of quality words, which, if I’m being honest, took much longer than I wanted it to. It was difficult, but overall, I put 110% into getting those words down. Without pushing myself, I wouldn’t have reached that word count, not in a million years. Tell people you’re writing too – the more encouragement you get, the more likely you’ll want to smash your goals!
Plan your chapters.
Right, I know you might have heard people say things like, “I don’t think you need to plan your chapters” or, “Improvisation is the way to go!” But, in all honesty, what are you going to do when writer’s block hits? When you’re not feeling entirely creative one day and you have no new ideas for your next chapter? You have to get those words in though, right?! Planning my chapters in detail in preparation for NaNoWriMo was probably the best thing I did. There was never a day where I was struggling for ideas, as I already had them written down! I think it’s a great idea to have some sort of plan, even if it is a brief outline of each chapter you’re going to write throughout the month.
Try and write something each day.
It wasn’t all plain sailing. I had a few days off from writing that daily 1,667 word target throughout the month. If you write one day and then have the next day off, you’ll have to write twice as much the next day you write. Then, of course, if you have more than one day off, you’ll soon become lost and have an awful lot of catching up to do. Even if you don’t write as much as you’d like one day, it’s always better than not writing anything at all. If you’re confident you can sit down at your computer and type out 5,000 in one sitting, then fair enough. But, for most of us, it can be near impossible.
Keep track of your words.
I sectioned a huge whiteboard out into squares in order for me to keep track of my daily word count. For each day of NaNoWriMo, I had a single square, which I filled in with the target total for that day. When I’d completed each day of writing, I also wrote in my total number of words written for that day. Seeing my progress visually was a huge help for me and gave me that motivation to hit each daily target.
Do it for a worthy cause.
This year, I not only took part in NaNoWriMo as a personal challenge, but I also used it as a chance to raise money for charity. I raised over £450 for Cancer Research UK in the process! I’m totally over the moon with this, and NaNoWriMo has meant an awful lot more to me too through doing it. Again, it’s such a good motivational boost – it keeps you going knowing that people have donated to see you win!
If you’re going to be writing 50,000 words in 30 days (or less!) you’re going to need a bit of an incentive to get you through each day, right? Thankfully for me, the Spyro Reignited Trilogy was released in November, so, if I managed to hit my word count each day, I’d allow myself to play a little PS4. I’ve also seen people reward themselves with food and chocolate when they reached every milestone. Not a bad idea – food is life.
You’re going to need some basics every day to feel comfortable. Start with a clean, well organised writing space. I wrote about this briefly in my previous post before NaNoWriMo. If you have a tidy space, you’re more likely to have a clear head when working on your novel. As well as this, stock up on tea, coffee, hot chocolates, gin, or whatever else you must drink to get you through. Don’t forget to feed yourself either. It might sound a bit silly, but it can be easy to forget it’s lunch time, and then whoops; it’s 6pm and you’ve missed a meal. You might also need a little bit of music, a bunch of pens and a pile of notebooks too. You never know when you’ll need to quickly jot down that new idea that just popped into your head!
Being a NaNoWriMo winner doesn’t have to be a struggle.
I’ve seen so many writers fail to complete NaNoWriMo this month – some for reasons beyond their control, but some because they just couldn’t find enough motivation to keep going for a whole month, non-stop. It’s difficult. So difficult.
You need to remember that NaNoWriMo isn’t about getting things perfect first time. It’s about getting those words down that have been waiting to come out for months, maybe years. It’s about getting that first draft written. Don’t edit, just write. You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve if you prepare in the right way!
Did you win NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what was your word count? If not, why not? Are you trying again this month, or are you saving it for another year? 🙂