NaNoWriMo Tips from the Muse
Happy 2016 NaNoWriMo season! I’m Kelly Blanchard, known online as the Muse, but on the NaNo site, I’m as Kellannetta, and this is my ninth year to participate in NaNo. This year I’m co-writing a fantasy novel with my boyfriend, which we have temporarily titled ‘The King’s Hand’. Since we’re co-writing, we technically need to write 100,000 words so we will have 50,000 words between the two of us, but we will see what happens!
A year before I joined, my mother discovered the NaNoWriMo challenge, and she participated in it. At that time, I was struggling to regain my confidence in writing because I had gone through a breakup. The following year, I had finally established my writing habits and tried the challenge. I haven’t stopped yet, and I’ve won every year.
If you’re new to NaNo, here are some tricks I’ve picked up along the way.
First, in order to achieve 50,000 words a day in 30 days, you need to write at least 1,667 words every day. However, that is such an odd number, and it requires a lot of math to remember what your word count needs to be to make sure you’ve reached that 1,667-word mark. Math has never been my strong point. Instead, I opt for a simpler but higher number of 2,000 words a day. Not only is it an easier number to remember, but that word count goal ensures that I am already ahead of the competition. Sure, it’s not a lot, but it gives me a little cushion. I actually take Sundays off from writing, but because I’ve written 2,000 words every day, I’m still on schedule and actually manage to reach 50,000 words before Day 30 comes around. This means if you write 2,000 words a day but then just have one really terrible day, you can take a day off and not fall behind. It’s okay.
Another tip I’ve found useful is knowing how much you can type in a matter of minutes. For instance, I know it takes me 15 minutes to write 500 words. This means in 30 minutes I will have 1,000 words, and in an hour, I will have 2,000 words, which is my daily goal. So all I need to reach that goal is an hour every day. If I know the day is going to be insane and I likely won’t get much writing done, I’ll wake up EARLY (like 3 or 4am) and write for an hour…and likely go back to bed before having to actually get up for the day. Otherwise, I can break it down into four increments of 500 words each. That means I just need 15 minutes here to write 500 words, and I just need to do that four times in a day, and I would have reached my daily goal. I found this especially helpful during my years as a college student when I had 15 minutes between each class. I would go to my classroom, pull out my laptop, put in my earbuds, turn on my music, ignore everyone around me, and just write until the teacher showed up. I got a lot of writing done that way.
When you’re doing NaNo, you may slam right into Writer’s Block, and this will stall your writing. That might freak you out, but don’t worry. If you can, find a friend or family member who you can brainstorm your story with (this means you’ll likely have to tell them the spoilers). When they recommend something, if it’s not exactly what you want, ask questions, probe, get it to work out better for you. You don’t have to do what they say, but having the ability to work out issues with someone is helpful.
Another thing that might help with Writer’s Block is being an active part of the home region near you. However, since I live in the middle of nowhere, I never attend Write-Ins or anything like that. I prefer to stay home and have the constant interaction with the online writing community, but if you have the opportunity to attend and meet fellow writers, do it! They can help and encourage you, cheer you along, and help you work through some of the issues you may be having.
Now, one very important thing to always do throughout the month of NaNo is BACKUP YOUR WORK! You never know what will happen, and I have heard too many horror stories of writers’ computers crashing and them losing everything. So, back it up. What I do is, every time I finish writing whatever my goal is at that moment, I email it to myself as a file attachment. That way I have access to it wherever, and I can always retrieve it again. However, you can use Google Docs, Dropbox, a flashdrive, or an external harddrive. Whatever you prefer, do it, but do it often, and make it a habit even outside of NaNo month.
I can keep going and going, but I think you get the idea. If you ever need any help though, feel free to find me on the NaNo site as Kellannetta and add me as your buddy. I always add everyone who adds me. Shoot me a message too. If you’d like to follow me on social media or check out the books I’ve published, you can find me at the following links. Be sure to join my FB group which is where I post about my writing and publishing adventures but also share a TON of pictures that might be exactly what you need to get past Writer’s Block. You never know what you will find!
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/AuthorKellyBlanchard
Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/AuthorKellyBlanchard
Writing Blog (about all topics of writing!): www.cinemagraphicwriting.com
Interview Blog (interviews of authors and characters): www.meetingwiththemuse.com
Chronicles of Lorrek Book 1: Someday I’ll Be Redeemed: www.amazon.com/Someday-Ill-Redeemed-Chronicles-Lorrek/dp/1530066484/
Chronicles of Lorrek Book 2: I Still Have a Soul: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MAX3811