How Do You NaNo? This Is How I Do It

This week, I am going to outline my method for getting NaNoWriMo done. If you are not familiar, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is when writers from all over the world attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. I’ve done this every year, except one, since 2008, and hit that 50K each time. It’s not the easiest thing, but not the hardest, either. There are obstacles, not the least of which (for those of us in the US) is a major family oriented holiday right at the end of the month. And for many, if not most, there are the day to day things that take up our time: job, school, family, home, friends, to name a few.

There are many ways to get the words done. Some people do marathon writing sessions, and finish quickly. There are those who challenge themselves to do the whole 50K in one day. I am more of the slow and steady type. I will admit that I am lucky in that I am home all day, so I don’t have the problem of being out at school or a job that may make squeezing in writing time difficult. But that does not mean that I can sit and write all day, every day. I do have other things that need to get done, plus I have family and friends. I don’t want to lock myself up at my desk for a whole month, and ignore everyone else in my life. If that works for you, then by all means, do what you have to. I also cannot sit and do a marathon writing session, getting thousands of words done in a sitting. In fact, I find a more spread out approach to work best for me. It may not be for everyone, but this is how I do it.

I am a slow writer, I admit that. I can only write so much in one sitting and my brain is done. If I push too much past that, I’m mentally useless for a day or so. In order to get the amount of words per day I want to, I need to spread the writing out so I don’t get mentally fatigued as quickly. So, what is my method?

I plan my writing time just like I plan my story. I have a goal, and a method for reaching it. This year, I set a goal of 2500 words a day. That’s 833 words more than the minimum 1667 to reach 50K in 30 days. But that 1667 means writing that much every day, and I don’t do that. I plan so that I can take most weekends off, especially Sundays. We are in football season, and I want to watch the games! So, I set a higher daily goal that allows me the freedom to take some time off. On a daily basis, I work in 500 word sprints. That keeps my brain from overloading on the work and keeps me able to get to that 2500 goal. I sit at the computer, write at least 500 words (and, of course, it is never exactly 500), then I get up and do something else. Empty the dishwasher. Laundry. Walk the dog. Whatever needs to get crossed off the chores list. Then I come back and hit another 500. I usually get at least 1000 words in the morning, sometimes 1500. And morning is not my best creative time. I work better later in the afternoon. By the time I’ve hit 2500 words and gotten the rest of the stuff done I need to, I am usually ready to call it a day, and it is usually time to do just that. I have my evenings and weekends free.

As of now, using this method, I am about 2000 words over my week one goal of 12,500, so I am on track to finish well within the month. Of course, week two can be tougher. Some of the new, shiny has worn off and things don’t always fly along. For that, I like to stop, whether it is for a break or at the end of the day, in the middle of a scene. That way, when I come back, I know where to start and I am not just sitting here, staring at a blank screen. Most often, once I get going, things just take off.

I know this method won’t work for everyone. If you have a full time job or are in school, of course you can’t just get up and stop to write at intervals. You could try it when you do have a block of time, and see if it has any benefit. The biggest things for me are setting goals (time, word count, pages written, etc.) and keeping to them. It keeps me on track and lets me take some time for myself, also.

Everyone is different. Everyone thinks and works differently. This is how I NaNoWriMo. How do you get it done? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear your approach. Maybe we can learn some new tips and tricks from each other.

Good luck and keep writing, no matter what!