NaNoWriMo Survival Tactics

3:45 PM

That's right, I'm all professional now. 

Welcome to another Tuesday of writing-related antics! I struggled for a while about what to post about today, since I'm never prepared when Tuesday rolls around  I had a lot of ideas for what to blog about. Then, I remembered that NaNoWriMo is actually just three days away!


Yes, NaNo, I did. 

As usual, I was caught off-guard by this, despite actually having a plan for my project sooner than the last minute this year. I blogged about said project here  and you should really check it out.

Now, if you know anything about NaNoWriMo, you know that it isn't easy. In fact, that's what I blogged about last week, in my post about preparing for NaNo.  (you should check that out too.) It's a month full of being ahead, being behind, being right on schedule, long sleepless nights of typing, guilt from not typing when you should be typing, caffeine, sugar, ranting online, getting distracted by everything possible, characters surprising you, plot twists, and endings you never expected. Whether you win or lose (and as I said in my previous post about NaNo, that isn't the point) it's heaps and heaps of fun, especially if you have some plans for surviving the month beforehand. 

So, I've put together a handy checklist of tactics for surviving the long hike that is NaNoWriMo. Because isn't NaNo essentially a hike of sorts? And before every hike it's always good to, you know, actually have things packed to help you. Unless you're me and you forget everything important every time you pack for a trip. 


1. Chocolate and caffeine and sugary things. 

This is quite possibly the most important one, guys. I mean, how are you going to keep writing all night long when you get behind if you don't have caffeine to keep you going? I don't drink tea personally but I've heard that helps too. Really, anything with an obscene amount of sugar in it to give you the energy you need to keep going. 

It's also great for rewards, too! Really, what's better than prizes for accomplishing things? Aside from my stash of survival candy, I buy myself something bigger and more special for accomplishing my overall goal at the end of the month, like a jar of Nutella or something. Go crazy with it! Just don't give yourself candy for every 100 words or something. That defeats the purpose and doesn't make it as desirable. 

2. Give yourself goals. 

I talked about this in the last section talking about rewards, but to get those delicious rewards you have to, you know, have goals to earn said candy in the first place. 

50k looks like a lot. I'm not gonna lie. If we're going with the hiking metaphor, it's about the equivalent of some huge, rocky mountain that goes up through the clouds while you stand there at the bottom and look up. There are also bears. You've been warned. 

Thinking about it, even if you've done it and won before, can seem a little overwhelming. It's worse if you've lost before (and I speak from experience.) So to make it a little less overwhelming, give yourself some goals to look forward to, complete with (optional but highly suggested) rewards when you reach them. Try looking at just the 10k mark, and then the 15k mark, and then the 20k mark, and so on. Looking at it in blocks like this sure helps me! Before you know it, you'll be looking at the 50k summit right there. 

3. Find a buddy or two. Or three. Or four. 

Sherlock GIFs are so useful, aren't they? 

Seriously, even if you're more introverted about your writing, this is the most helpful thing you could do. After all, hiking a huge mountain alone wouldn't be much fun, and if you get stuck on your own you're in a lot more trouble than you would be with a friend or two. 

It can even just be one person that you tell about your NaNo adventures. Fellow writerly people are best, of course, but an encouraging non-writer friend could be just as good. Of course, there's always the option of forcing your usually non-writing friend to attempt NaNo with you. A NaNo friend is great in general. 

Basically, surround yourself with as many people as you want, even if it's just one. Find a writing group, a fellow writer, get on the NaNo forums, whatever you want. Just don't attempt the climb alone. Trust me. 

4. Have a general plan. 

Now, as you've probably gathered by now, I'm a huge pantser. I've confessed before that I don't have any sort of solid, outlined plot for my NaNo novel. I'm just going to see where it takes me. Some people, on the other hand, do plot and outline. And you know what? Both are perfectly okay. The awesome thing about writing is that there aren't set-in-stone rules about how you're supposed to get those words on the page. 

That being said, if you're going to go into NaNo it helps to have a general idea of what you're writing beyond just a concept. Even if it's just an ending, that can help you be grounded in your story and give you something to fall back on when you get stuck. Even if you're like me and have no idea what you're doing, you should at least have a loose idea/outline of some scenes. This is basically your compass/map on this adventure - wandering is okay and actually encouraged, but you don't want to get lost. 


5. Have fun! 

*pauses for groans at cheesiness* 

Yes, I know, that's what you always hear. But it's especially true with NaNo. It's a mad rush for that 50k goal all month long, and yes, there will be stressful moments, but above all it's about having fun and getting some writing done. So play around a little. Enjoy the rush of pounding out way too many words in such a short space of time. Brag to your friends about how far you've gotten so far. Reward yourself with chocolate, sometimes just because it was a rough writing day and you really need a pick-me-up (although you shouldn't do this too often). Go crazy with it! 

Now, you tell me. What are your favorite methods of surviving NaNoWriMo? Are you as excited as I am? How do you think Sherlock survived the fall? Comment away! 


(But before I go, you should friend me on the NaNoWriMo site. Here's my profile. I'm also on Twitter, where I'll be sharing mini-updates on NaNo throughout the month. You can follow me on Pinterest and Goodreads too!)


hey. hey. talk to me. i'm a fan of comments and flailing with you. go for it.