I’ve read a lot of great articles on getting ready for NaNoWriMo, all about writing and plotting and planning and whatnot. Great tips, certainly. Well shoot, I thought to myself, I am a NaNo veteran at this point. I have five winning NaNos (and one 20K loser) under my belt. I have things to share that could make NaNo easier. I have pearls of pearly wisdom. I must share them with the newbs! So here are my NaNo tips:
1. Buy discount Halloween candy on November 1st. Trust me, the sugar rush is good for at least an extra 500 words. As a bonus, by the time December rolls around you won’t crave the holiday goodies because you’ll be sugared out.
2. Clean your house now. Or, alternately, let it get really messy so you have a way to plot and procrastinate during November. My house gets really clean when I’m stuck on a scene.
3. Either plan meals for the month and shop early, or get really comfortable eating food you can eat with one hand that comes from a drive thru. Either way is acceptable.
4. Stock up the coffee. You do NOT want to be stuck at midnight with no coffee.
5. If you have housemates, children or spouse(s), be sure they know they are officially alone. Come November, all they will hear from you is either dialogue or frantic mumbling.
6. Pie is a great motivator.
7. IHOP is the perfect place to go out. I know you’re thinking a coffee shop, but you’re wrong. At IHOP the waitstaff BRINGS you coffee. Not to mention pancakes.
8. Certain… favors… make happier NaNo widows and widowers. Your call.
9. Use a daily word count calendar as your desktop. I’ve used one every year, and they are great for quick checking what you need and also guilting you into working instead of playing Warcraft. Or maybe that’s just me. (Check the forums or deviantart if you’re not an artist yourself.)
10. Contractions are one word that could be two. Chapters can have awesome titles and also numbers and also quotes at the top. Any word on either side of an em dash–like this–will be subtracted unless you add a space. Real Writers(tm) do not stoop to this level of course, but sometimes we just need a little ego boost round about week two. This is a way to get it. In exact opposite advice, editing a NaNoWriMo novel is made much harder if you use these tricks. Much. Harder.
11. Speaking of week two, it is like you were flying and then you crashed into a swamp with man eating crocodiles and you have to drink your own pee to survive. Just try to get through it and pretend it never happened. I swear to you things will get better again. I’d love to see stats on how many people quit during this hell week. (This year, I’m starting NaNo with a novel entering week 2 word count. I’m a masochist.)
–Take advantage of the first night boost. Stay up until midnight on November 1st and do your first day’s word count then (1667). Then when you wake up November 1st, do another day’s count. That buffer has saved me more than once.
–Try out your local meet ups. Writing sprints have been historically good for my word count. I often get double count at write ins. Plus, I met a few of my dearest friends through NaNo.
–Your word processor WILL have a different word count than the offical NaNo counter. Be sure to test it out before the big validation, so you don’t find yourself at 11:59 on November 30th needing 500 more words. That sucks. I find Word is usually somewhere between 200 and 500 words ahead of the NaNo bot.
–Back up your shit. Seriously. Do it.
–Have fun. Do not take this crap too seriously. Haters like to hate on NaNo which–unless you’re an agent/editor getting shitty queries–I don’t get. NaNo is fun. Have fun with it. Don’t worry about people who want to shit on fun–they probably don’t like rainbows or Disneyland either. Whatever.
I hope these tips help you have a happy, successful and sugar-rushed novel writing experience If you want to be writer buddies, I’d love to friend you on the NaNo site. User name Janon (er, assuming all stays the same with the new site launch, anyway.)