If your intentions for NaNoWriMo are to try it out and not worry about word count, then this post might not apply to you. Otherwise, if you want to reach the end with +50K, here’s the best (blunt) advice I have, and it has little to do with writing.
Plan or pants or do something in-between for your novel, but when it comes to your life in November—PLAN. This will be my fifth NaNo, and while I acknowledge the unexpected arises, being caught by what you could have averted or allowed for isn’t a viable excuse.
*I’ve actually heard this: I was doing really good and would have made it, but then we took a family vacation for a week and I couldn’t catch up. You mean that vacation you planned months ago? Sorry, no. Don’t put it on the family. You should have bumped your average up to 2174/day starting on Day1 to compensate or accepted you wouldn’t be able to reach 50K. I hate math, but this is easy stuff.
Believe me, I’ve heard countless reasons for quitting, and usually they begin surfacing during Week 2. Short of major illnesses, deaths in the family, tornados, hurricanes, flooding, or major earthquakes, you need to plan and make lifestyle changes.
That is, after all, the point of NaNo.
So, take stock of your life in November. If you’re taking a vacation to DisneyWorld for a week and hosting US Thanksgiving dinner for 50 and half of them are staying at your house, and the kids are all in plays and you have to make costumes and, and, and … you might want to rethink your NaNo expectations.
Just losing all or part of Thanksgiving Day (or any other holiday around the globe) forces you to write an extra 57 words every day.
If you lose other days that number grows, and grows fast if the day(s) lost come late in the month because there’s little time to compensate for the lost writing.
Remember, NaNo is about learning to buckle down, make writing a daily habit, and finish a project. That means planning.
Will you be putting in extra hours at work that month? At school? Do you have to travel? To you have children? An aging parent? A new puppy/kitten? Do you have a host of doctor’s visits for yourself or a loved one? Are you expecting guests for any reason? Are you expected to attend dinners, parties, or school functions?
All of this, and more, eats up your time and if you don’t look hard at a calendar you’re going to get caught.
Is there someone else who can take over making meals for the month? Can the entire family chip in? If you’re alone, can you make meals in October and freeze them to lighten the load during the month?
The delays can add up, but so too can the precautions you take.
Put off what you can in November. Plan your entire month’s worth of meals. Clean your house late in October so you can coast as much as possible in November.
NaNo is about not having the time to stop and edit along the way, which means taking the time to bake five pies is going to put you behind.
Yeah, I’m trying to scare you a little bit, but this is all real. If you can look ahead and see hurdles and pitfalls through the month then compensate where you can and average more than the normal 1,667 words/day, or do that to allow for the unexpected.
The bottom line is, plan your novel in October, but also plan your life. That’s the no-excuses way to succeed at NaNo.
REMEMBER! NaNoWriMo is less about writing a great novel (that happens in edits), and everything about managing your life so you can establish a regular writing routine and finish a project. At 50K that’s the skeleton of a novel, but it’s an accomplishment to build on.
*Note: I’m suspending Saturday posts through November to provide me additional NaNo time and may continue to do so for the same reason.