East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Surviving NaNOWriMO – 10 ideas

Leave a comment

Photograph of a statue of an ape, examining a ...

So the NaNOWriMo is on.
My compliments and best wishes to all participants.
As I mentioned in the past, I will not be NaNOWriMo-ing this year simply because I’m doing a thorough revision and final draft of a text in 45 days (and as you read this, we are on day 29).

Anyway, I was rather surprised by this whole writing fast/writing good thing I’ve been through.
So far the going has been easier than anticipated – and I’ve been learning a lot of things.

So, why not share them?
I’m probably just re-inventing the wheel, here, but who knows?
Maybe someone out there might find them useful – for their NaNoWriMo marathon or for anything else.

So, here goes…

nanowrimo-logo1 . Don’t wing it.
A novel’s too long a thing to wing it. Outline it. You don’t need any rigid/tight outline, just a breakdown of what happens when. You’ll be free to disregard the outline while you write – but you need a general map.

2 . Find the right tool for the job.
Whatever is the right tool for you is all right. Software, hardware, analog, digital. Just make sure that whatever you use for writing is something you’re comfortable with, something that does the job for you.

3 . Set yourself a reasonable target and strive to meet it.
For me, it’s 2000 words per sitting. Then, depending on how busy I am I can do a single sitting, or three. But I must keep the 2k target in sight.

4 . Break down your work into manageable bits.
Books, chapters, scenes. My scenes are usually 400/600 words long, so in a sitting I can do, in theory, 3/5 scenes.

5 . Take a break.
At least ten minutes every hour. Walk around, massage your hands, stretch, yawn, do some exercise using those squeezy toys that are supposed to be good to release stress.
It’s just ten minutes. It’s ok.

6 . Give yourself a prize.
I set myself a 15.000 words target. I had a party when I reached that word count, and I bought myself an ebook (actually, an ebook at 15K and a StoryBundle special when I got to 30K*).
Also, I normally treat myself with a chocolate or something like that when I’ve had a very satisfactory, productive day.
It’s ok.

7 . Cheat.
No, really, cheat. You will come to a point where your story just freezes solid. It happens.
That’s why you have an outline – so that you can jot down a few notes and then jump forward and keep going.
Go back to the bad point/scene/chapter with a clear mind – but in the meantime, don’t stop.

8 . Organize your time, but not too strictly.
“Sorry, tonight I can’t, I’m working on my novel!” sounds great, but will get you a lot of weird stares. It’s good to be able to reschedule a writing session, so allow yourself some flexibility, if you can.

9 . Backup your data.
No, again, really.
Make as many copies in as many different places.
Better safe than sorry.

10 . Write something else.
Allow yourself half an hour to write a blog post, or a diary entry, or ten minutes to do some writing warm-up exercise. This is the mental equivalent of stretching, squeezing a doggie toy or taking a walk after one hour. It allows our brain to shift gears, and it helps a lot to prevent a complete burnout.

Anything else?
Yes – eat healthy food and get a good night’s sleep.
And keep writing!


* And as you read this, I’ve probably passed the 45K mark… I wonder what I’ll give/I’ve given myself as a prize…

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.