Staying Productive During NaNoWriMo

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In this #NaNoWriMo article we talk about some ways you can stay productive during the entire month of NaNoWriMo. 

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If you don’t know, November is the National Novel Writing Month, and the challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. If you start on November 1st, it means you’ll have to average 1667 words per day in order to make that goal a reality. 

For a lot of people trying to become full time writers, 1667 words per day is a significant increase in the amount of productivity that they have during the month. Sustaining that becomes draining over a long period of time, especially once the excitement of the project and the stress of life gets in the way. 

So how do you complete the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a single month, without burning out, and without losing steam? I’ve done NaNoWriMo many times. I’ve won some years and lost some years, and I have some tips that will help you to keep going, even when it gets tough.

  1. Work on Multiple Projects

The general spirit of NaNoWriMo is that you will start a new project on November 1st and work on that one project, to the exclusion of all else, until you hit 50,000 words, or until the end of the day on November 30th, whichever comes first. NaNo rebels will work on an already in-progress novel, or multiple projects, in order to get their words in. 

I have heard of writing every day, one poem a day, and revision challenges. Many writers use NaNo month to work on multiple projects, and you shouldn’t be afraid to have several of them in the wings if you think you will need them to get your word counts in.

  1. Scene You’re Excited to Write

While you may be writing diligently throughout the first week, by the second week, most people’s motivation will start to wane. This is completely normal. Thousands of people experience this in weeks two and three of NaNo. One of the reasons you might get stuck is because the middle of your novel isn’t fully clear to you. Another reason is because the middle of the book is where the hard work of building and earning the ending payoff begins.

If you find that you are slowing down, muddling through, or completely stuck, it’s okay. One way to rekindle the passion for your novel is to skip ahead and write a scene that is burning in your mind, or a scene that you are excited to write about. Having that future scene written can give you clues about where you will need to go next to bring your story to that eventual place. It can give you ideas for things that you need to thread in earlier in the narrative. It will help motivate you to stick with the less fun parts of your story and give you stamina to push through.

  1. Never Throw Words Away

It is critical to remember that even if you hate every bit of what you’re writing in the moment, you wrote new words, and all of them count toward your word count for the day. 

Lovelies, NaNoWriMo doesn’t judge your work on its quality. It doesn’t say to you, yes you made 50,000 words but 32,000 of them were garbage so they don’t count. You shouldn’t pre-judge your words until you have a full novel in the works. I have reattempted a scene half a dozen times, and just written it in a new section. I have counted new sections of an outline as words because my old outline deviated really hard from where it was when I started the month.

Words are words, and the goal is to write them. The goal has nothing to do with how good or bad those words might be. Don’t worry about it, just make a new section and move forward, because you can always delete it after NaNo month is over.

So those are my tips for staying productive and keeping your word counts high every day during the month of November. Managing your word count is always so much more than managing your time and your manuscript, and I think it’s important to always highlight the aspects of writing that aren’t obvious if you’ve never attempted something before. There’s no handbook for doing something for the first time, and for me, personally, having specific insights into how things work is really helpful, so I hope this is something you can find helpful too.

Discussion Questions

  1. What kinds of tricks do you have that get you unstuck if you’re not writing?
  2. What are your best tips and tricks for making 50,000 words in November?
  3. Do you plan on participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Will you do a full 50K, and if not, what are your goals?
  4. What’s your best productivity tip for NaNoWriMo?
  5. What questions would you like to see me answer in a blog post or podcast episode?

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One Reply to “Staying Productive During NaNoWriMo”

  1. I like tip #2. And whenever I get stuck in my writing, I conjure a scene that I actually feel like writing. Sure, I might need to complete a boring chapter here and there, but I’ve found that I can always find ways to make a chapter more interesting. Anyway, thanks for this post!

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