5. Use Your Support Groups
Part of a NaNoWriMo community? Reach out to your groupmates for help with that sticky section. Have any writer friends offline? They know the pain of trying to write witty banter, and probably have some tips. Don’t know any fellow writers? Grab your nearest pet and start ranting to them about how the climax isn’t as epic as you envisioned. My cats never judge me for my plot holes and they’ll listen to me act out scenes for hours (or until I run out of treats).
Writing a novel is hard work at the best of times, but especially when you’re trying to cram it all into one month, and there’s no shame in needing some support. All these people (and animals) are probably feeling the same pressure you are, and even if they aren’t part of this madness, they all want you to succeed.
It might sound corny, but knowing you’re not the only one trapped in this madness can help – or at least help you remember that you’re not alone.
6. Keep Reading (Other Books)
If you’re anything like me, your mind is probably exhausted from weeks of writing and drawing on your own creative muse to get from one plot point to the next. And occasionally, I need to shut all the noise off for a change. Nothing fills my head up faster than a good book, and there’s nothing like throwing yourself into the fruits of another author’s hard work to recharge your imagination. This is a hard one, because you have to try and turn off your writer’s brain for a little while, and most importantly, you can’t compare your writing to whatever you choose to read.
I mean it. Do not. Compare. Do. Not. That’s not what this is about.
The most important thing is to enjoy yourself. Pick a story that inspires you, or even just makes you smile, and let someone else draw you into their story for a change.
7. Allow Yourself to Suck
This is probably the most important trick, and the one that’s the hardest for me to actually follow. I want my prose to be lyrical and beautiful and perfect from the moment I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). But, of course it almost never works out that way. Okay, it never, ever works out that way. Because the reality is, my first draft is going to suck. In fact, it’s going to really suck, and that’s okay.
Why? Because, there is no perfect first draft.
No author has ever looked at their first draft and called it an unfettered masterpiece. And if they say they have, they’re either fooling themselves, or they’re lying. Accept that you’ll probably be revising most, maybe even all, of what you wrote in November and just write. Focus on getting what’s in your head onto the page and stop worrying about themes and clichés and even showing vs. telling.
The novel you write this month will never come out perfect, but it will still be a novel that you wrote, and there aren’t too many people can say they have that.
There we go, the seven tips I use to get through NaNoWriMo. Obviously, not all of these are going to work for everyone, so don’t get discouraged. If nothing else this list might be a good place to start to finding your own methods of staying inspired and motivated. Maybe you have a specific place you like to write, or a ritual you perform before you begin like screaming your frustrations into a pillow. Find what works for you and keep doing it. You’ll make it to the end before you know it.
Most importantly, remember to take care of yourself. Eat well, get enough sleep, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall behind or decide to try again next year. NaNoWriMo is about way more than winning the challenge; even if you only manage to write ten thousand or five thousand, or even just one thousand words by November 30th, that’s still more words than you had when you started. And that’s something worth celebrating.
Take care and happy writing everyone! Only 20,004 (or so) words left to go.
Thanks for reading everyone!
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