Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Tips For Winning NaNoWriMo

While I’m still fresh on my NaNoWriMo win high, I’d like to take a moment to give some tips on what got me through the month and to a win.

1. Before the month starts, decide what is important to you. You’re going to be getting out an average of 1,667 words per day at least in order to finish the month with a win. If you’re not used to writing nearly that much and you’re embroiled in work and/or school, you’re going to need to set priorities. My personal priorities for the month were to keep up my general WoW playing schedule, get 8 hours of sleep per night, and spend time with my fiance in the evenings. What did I have to let slide to accomplish those goals? The house looked like a tornado composed of books, video games and clothing tore through it. While that bothered me somewhat, I had to be willing to let my annoyance go in order to be able to push through the month with some degree of sanity left at the end.

2. Write wherever and whenever you can. Got a lull or break at work? Write (without getting fired)! Sitting on the couch idly playing Candy Crush and checking Facebook? Write! Remember that list of priorities we just made? If it’s not an essential bodily function or something you prioritized on that list, you should be writing. Carry around tools to help you with that goal. Even though I’m not a fan of it, you could write on your smartphone while standing in line for Chinese food. As my portable device of choice, I chose to carry around an Alphasmart 3000. If you’re going to be using multiple computers, you can stash work on Google Docs so that you can access the document from any computer with an internet connection. Install Dropbox on all of your computers at home so that you don’t have the excuse that you’re not working on your usual machine.

3. Back dat data up. You do not want the devastation of losing all of your words. Though I did not lose my words during NaNo, I had lost track of a flash drive containing all of my late high school and early college poetry for the past couple of years. I sort of gave up hope of finding the little device until it decided to resurface during this November. As you can guess, the contents are now safely dwelling in a Dropbox account. I already mentioned several ways of actually backing up your data above. You could also store your backups on a flash drive rather than an online service. Just choose a way that works for you, and back up regularly.

I am this squirrel. 
4. Caffeine, caffeine, caffeine. I’m a caffeine addict. I have been since I tried my first energy drink in 8th grade, a Red Bull that sent me soaring. Nowadays, I lean less towards energy drinks or soda pops like Mountain Dew or Vault. Instead, I partake much more often in caffeine rich tea or coffee. I actually justified my purchase of a k-cup brewing machine in late October by saying to myself, “It’ll really help with NaNo.” Oh, and it did with the smooth, smooth convenience. Choose a convenient caffeine laced drink to help you deal with the harder moments of the month at least. Those tired moments creep up all too often, and you want to be prepared.

5. Connect with your local writing community. I didn't do nearly as much of this as I would have liked during NaNo, but I still found interacting with fellow writers in person to really help. I couldn’t attend a write-in without feeling immense pressure from the productivity all around me that compelled me to stop staring blankly at my keyboard and actually write.

6. Connect with the community online. Seeing people in person can be nice, but if you can’t attend write-ins or just get too stricken with anxiety to leave the house, then virtual connections can be very useful. I added a number of the Booktubers that I follow to my buddy list. I ended up exchanging encouraging messages with them and a few others that I friended through the forums. I also used being able to see their word counts as a challenge, and I secretly engaged myself with wanting to be above the word counts I saw on my buddy list.

7. Remember to have a little fun. I know I’m contradicting some of my advice above. However, you don’t want to end up a burnt out husk of a human being at the end of the month or have a mental breakdown mid-month. I took the time to see Catching Fire and Thor: The Dark World with my friends this month. I dangled games in front of my face like Hearthstone and Super Mario 3D World as carrots to be relished after I finished my word count for the day. Remember to have fun while challenging yourself to win.

I wrote out the comments which helped me the most to make it through the month. What are some of your tips and recommendations for winning NaNoWriMo? Feel free to comment below.

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