#NaNoWriMo 2016: Survive and Thrive

We’re a week into National Novel Writing Month 2016, and word counts are building the world over. If you’re participating, it’s at this point that the scope of what you’ve agreed to might be setting in – 50,000 words in one month is A LOT. How’s it going so far? Are the words flowing or sputtering?

I’m participating for the second time; I “won” in 2014 with a grand total of 50,163 words. Looking back at my stats, I stayed ahead of the curve for the whole month, but this year is shaping up to be a bit different. As a reminder for myself, and hopefully as a helpful boost to those in the same situation, here are the tips that I’m going to use to win NaNoWriMo this year.


Schedule time to write.

I cannot stress this point enough. Just like any other commitment, if you schedule time in your day to write, it will be easier to fit it into your daily life. That might mean planning to lock yourself in the bathroom for 15-minute stretches to raise your word count through bits and bites, but the plan is the important thing!

My personal suggestion is to try getting up a bit earlier to fit in your word count. Writing before your brain is fully awake can be helpful because your “inner editor” is quieter, which can speed up the process of production.

Get outside.

We’re lucky here in Toronto this year – the weather has been amazing, which makes it easier to get outside and walk around. Regardless of the weather, your brain needs fresh air and movement in order to work efficiently. If you want to speed up your writing, turn a walk into a moving meditation on the upcoming scenes in your novel; you’ll chomping at the bit to write when you return. If you’re facing a thorny plot problem, focus on potential ideas and let your imagination run wild as you wander.

Get enough sleep.

It can be tempting during these 30 days to short yourself on sleep and load up on caffeine. Unfortunately, unless you’re a teenager, that habit is going to bite you in the ass before long. Most of us still have daytime responsibilities, so make sure that you’re still treating yourself well even though you might have added to your responsibilities temporarily.

Stop writing for the day when you know what’s going to happen next.

It’s hard to get started when you know you’ll be staring at the page wondering where to take the story next. When you wrap up each day, either stop mid-sentence or write yourself a note about what the next scene is about. When you pick the story back up, you’ll be able to dive in easily. This is especially helpful if you’re sneaking in quick word sprints while waiting for your kids to get out of dance class!

Get social.

There are NaNoWriMo events in many major cities, and even if you’re not close to a NaNo hub, there are online events happening all the time. Get into the spirit: participate in word sprints, twitter convos, and coffee nights. It can be hugely helpful to be surrounded by people dealing with the same problems you’re having!

What are your most helpful NaNoWriMo survival tips? Tell us in the comments!



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