Swoon Author Claire Kann: Let’s Talk About NaNoWriMo
Judging by the daily updates I see on Twitter and Instagram this year, at this point, you’re probably like, “WOW. It feels SO good to have won NaNo on Day 15.”
Unless you’re like me and are like, “NaNoWhatMo?” I’m the type of person that will finish NaNo on November 30th at 11:55 p.m. and spend the next four minutes frantically uploading my words.
This post is for my procrastinators, my Netflix bingers, my snuggle up in a blanket while reading the new Philip Pullman book instead of writing writers. You are my people and I am here to help you because it’s not too late to catch up. This is our time to shine—the time of unabashed desperation.
10K Tuesday. I believe the official 10K Tuesday takes place on the last Tuesday before NaNo ends where writers band together to write 10K words in a single day. However, we, the Procrastinators, have to be proactive. We need a 10K Tuesday, a Words of Plenty Wednesday, a SlapDash Saturday—clear your schedule as much as you can, know the essence of what you plan to write in advance, don’t be afraid to skip to the scene you really want to write instead of focusing on filler, and if you’re able to, write on your phone or tablet if you have an online server app like Google docs when you’re on the go. Do whatever you need to, just Get. Those. Words. In.
Eliminate Distractions. This varies from writer to writer, but I’d bet money the single “universal” piece of advice you’ll hear will be “disconnect from the internet.” I respectfully disagree. I think what that’s supposed to mean is disconnect from social media. No Twitter, Tumblr, or whatever floats your digital boat. Personally, I cannot write without the almighty Google search. If I want to make a joke about Barney & Friends in my YA WIP, I need to know the likelihood of my MC, who was born in 2000/2001, even knowing who Barney is. (Spoiler alert: It’s very likely. I also now know more about Barney than any one person should. Thanks, Wikipedia!) You’re probably thinking, “You can fill in that detail later. No need to look it up right this second!” But alas, I cannot. I will be stuck thinking about that Barney joke until I’m factually sure it makes sense. I’m all for word-vomiting a garbage first draft, but some things, like Barney jokes, require that extra bit of effort.
Hyperfocus. This is something only you can figure out for yourself. For me, it’s a music playlist, coffee, and snacks—crunchy snacks to be specific. I’m a low-key Funyon addict, eat red delicious apples like a horse, and crunch on carrots louder than Bugs Bunny when he’s trying to be blasé. For some reason, the noise and chewing help me stay on task.
Word Sprints. I know, I know, I hear you. “Claire, you said to eliminate distractions like Twitter!” Yes, and I still believe that. There’s this weird misconception about word sprints, that you have to have another person to do it. A party of two or more may be all the rage in the world of sprinters, but it’s not necessary. If you know opening Twitter to tweet for a sprinting partner is going to lead you down the timeline temptation rabbit hole and hours later you start wondering why you’re still on Twitter, abstain. Race against yourself and set up a reward system.
Rewards. Set mini-word count goals and then give yourself something special for reaching them. Sandy Hall has an awesome process for candy-based rewards. She makes a bingo chart and every hundred words, she gets a piece of candy. Personally, I reward myself with YouTube. Every time I hit a goal, I watch a favorite music video that relates to my WIP. For my current YA WIP, it’s “Rebirth” by Red Velvet. The entire video is like a glimpse into my MC’s head when she sees her crush, plus the song itself perfect mix of ethereal, adorable, and lovely. It gets me excited to dive back in and try to capture what I’m seeing/feeling with words.
The trick to NaNo is you have to want to do it. What are your top ways to ensure you win NaNo?
Until next time,
(And of course, it’s not really about winning. Whether you win or lose, you will have more words than what you started with. To quote Hey Arnold, which was probably quoting an actual movie from the ‘70’s, “The journey is the destination, man.”)