Did you decide to do NaNoWriMo this year? Great! In participating you joined a long line of talented writers who have found fellowship, support, and success in this yearly challenge.
But you might not have been as good as you should have been. Maybe life just knocked you for a loop. Maybe you got writer’s block and had a hard time getting around it. Maybe you spent an entire weekend watching True Crime YouTube Videos and suddenly found yourself 3,000 words behind.
Whatever your issue, NaNoWriMo can quickly turn from a joy to a struggle. And as the days tick by and your writing count gets shorter and shorter, you may consider giving up all together.
But don’t worry! My experience with month-long writing challenges, and my successes and failures during previous NaNoWriMos, have given me some tips and tricks that might help you.
Adjust your goals accordingly with the number of days you have left.
So you’re 4,000 words behind and have 21 days left on the challenge? Your brain might be telling you that you can get that all knocked out in a single evening. You just need to get everyone out of your house so you can put on a pot of espresso-laced coffee. You could knock out all 4,000 words in an hour!
Yet the truth is that if you do that, you’ll just be burned out the next day. And will probably need a few more days to recover from the experience. Putting you right back at a 4,000 word deficit again.
Instead, use math to figure out how to gently increase your daily goals.
Here’s what that would look like for a 4,000 word deficit:
4000 / 21 = 191
So if you adjust your daily total to 1200 words a day instead of 1000, you’ll still hit your target but without the complete and total meltdown.
Schedule daily blocks of time where you will be doing nothing but writing for at least 30 minutes.
Writing is like taking a shower on your day off. You know you want to do it. You know that you’ll never want to stop doing it once you get started. But getting started feels like one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do in your life.
The best way to get around this is to schedule a time during the day where you MUST write. No ifs ands or buts. When the clock hits 5:00am, 7:00pm, Midnight, or one of the many hours in-between, you must sit down and write something – undisturbed – for at least 30 minutes.
If writer’s block is one of the things that has been stopping you from reaching your true NaNoWriMo potential, you might want to try and increase the number of excellent ideas floating around in your head. Reading is one of the best ways to do just that.
If you’ve been staring at the same page for hours without putting down a single extra word, step back from your desk, grab a book, and read for 15 minutes. It will clear out the cobwebs in your brain, and remind you why writing fiction rocks.
Reach out to other NaNoWriMo participants on Social Media
One of the best things about the NaNoWriMo challenge is the camaraderie and the connection to other writers. So don’t let that amazing upside go to waste! Mention your troubles to your writing buddies. Ask for advice on certain problems using the #NaNoWriMo hashtags.
You’d be amazed at the kind of feedback that’s just out there waiting for you!