Swoon Author Sandy Hall: Brace Yourselves… NaNo’s Coming!
With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I thought I would share my time-tested techniques for getting focused, staying motivated, and most importantly finishing what you start!
1. Candy (or whatever type of edible treat floats your boat)
Sometimes a little nibble of something sweet is just what you need. I like to set up a grid and lay out a piece of candy for each milestone achieved. (Like an M&M every one hundred words or a Tootsie Roll every 300.)
If candy isn’t your thing, find something else. Reward yourself for a job well done. Don’t think of it as bribing yourself, think of it as motivation and incentive.
2. Know your pace
Do some timed word sprints and see how many words you can write in a certain amount of time. Then you’ll know how much time to set aside for writing, particularly in terms of NaNo since it’s a set word goal each day.
I also like keeping track of my personal best times, like the most words I ever wrote an hour. I’ve basically turned writing books into a competition with myself.
3. Plan! (at least a little bit)
I know not everyone is a planner, but when it comes to writing a novel in a month, it’s good to have at least a vague idea of where you’re going. Even taking ten minutes towards the end of October to jot down ideas might help a lot in the long run, particularly when you start to run out of steam during the dreaded second week of NaNo. It’s taken so many victims.
4. Leave yourself notes.
When you’re done for the day, leave yourself a note about where you left off or where you want to start during your next session, either one works. This way you don’t have to double back and reread what you just wrote the next day. It’s a time saver. Especially if you can’t keep your inner editor at bay.
5. Keep going!
Don’t get mired down by the individual words. If you’re stuck on a word, write the closest one you can think of or make one up and come back to it in the edits. The most important thing is writing, not writing it perfectly. Once you get the words down, you can fix them. But you can’t fix words that only exist in your head.
(Unless you can. I don’t know your life.)
Even when you get to the point in the process where you can’t stop making this face:
JUST. KEEP. GOING.
Because eventually you’ll be finished and you’ll make this face:
(That is, approximately, the face I make. Your results may vary.)