And by the end of October, I more or less did. Maybe not all the sections were filled in, but I had characters (WITH NAMES!), I had a vague idea of the place, and I had a list of scenes I intended to write. I even had a pool of names for minor characters, because nothing derails my writing flow quite as quickly as having to come up with a new name. So I was ready. The first day went smoothly -- I wrote a few hundred words over my 1,667 par.
And then I had a family emergency and by the time I was back home and thinking about writing again, it as day 14 and I was 12,000 words behind where I was supposed to be.
For some people that wouldn't be a problem. I have friends who regularly produce over 1,000 words in a 25-minute sprint. They can easily skip writing all week and catch up in a couple of hours on the weekend.
I am not that person.
My average -- non-distracted -- writing speed is somewhere a little over 500 words / hour. I make it through NaNoWriMo every year by putting in the hours. Every single day. I get uneasy if I get a day behind.
And yet I did manage to finish on time this year. I'm writing my strategy down hoping it helps others and also so I can remember how I did this next year.
|Light blue line is where I would have been in an ideal world, dark blue line was reality biting back|
Failure is an option: I gave myself permission to fail. Obviously there were more important things going on in my life this year than a writing challenge. Adding the stress of "OMG I'm not writing enough!" wasn't going to do anything other than give me insomnia. If I failed then I failed, and that's just the way it was.
Making it manageable: Refreshing the NaNoWriMo stats page each morning was a little scary, because it would say things like "2,650 words left today". I was used to just barely making it through 1,667 words every evening after work. Adding an extra thousand seemed nearly impossible. So I added at least one writing sprint in the morning before work. I also brought my laptop to work on days I was in the office and added a sprint at lunchtime. My goal was to bring the "words left today" at least down to 1,667 before my normal evening writing time.
Word sprints: I'm easily distracted, so anything that helps me focus is key. https://tomato-timer.com/ saved me. I would start a 25-minute timer and know that everything else (email, Twitter, food, etc.) could wait until it beeped.
Relaxation timer: If I just needed to sit down and relax for a few minutes with the intention of writing in just a bit, I would set the 5-minute timer to remind me that browsing the internet for two hours wasn't going to help things. (I ought to do this more often.)
Write-ins: I'm lucky to have an active group of NaNoWriMo participants in my area, and I made it to at least one write-in every week. I spent some time with friends and we also had word sprints going for 3-4 hours. That really helps get the words in.
If you have tips (for either planning ahead of time or hitting those goals during November), add them in the comments!