I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, November 16, 2012

How's NaNoWriMo Working for You?



 It’s either good news or bad news, but we’re officially halfway through National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). How are you doing? Have you written 25,000 words yet? (Or more, if you’re planning to take off for the holiday?)

If you’ve met your goal so far, hooray! Keep it up! We’ll all do the Snoopy Dance and celebrate when you reach the 50,000-word mark. (By the way, I hope you’re reading this during your coffee or lunch break.)

For those who haven’t met your goal, what’s stopped you? Look into a mirror and say, “I'm a writer. I deserve time to discover whether I really can achieve my dream.” If you haven't done this yet, then you need to—right after leaving a comment at the end of this post.

Some common problems:

Time management. Even if it's a struggle, please carve out some writing time in November as a gift to yourself.  Enlist your family to do a little more. Arrange with your boss so you can write during your lunch hour. Lose a little more sleep. Many writers get up before the roosters or stay up with the owls after the rest of their family has gone to bed. Use whatever pieces of time you can to write.

Distractions. You’ve carved out writing time, but you’re not using it to your advantage. Eliminate time wasters. Make a rule you can’t login to Facebook, check the headlines or play Spider Solitaire until you reach your daily word count. I know it only takes a minute, and you’re dying to read your email, but be a grown up. After all, it’s your dream. You’re the problem here.  
Why you're distracted. Most of the time, you distract yourself when you don’t know what happens next or you’re struggling with a scene. Sometimes it helps to walk away, so go do something productive, then come back. Or call a friend to brainstorm. Just don’t resort to your usual time wasters. You won’t find the solution while reading “Dear Abby” or watching the most popular YouTube video. You’ll just lose ten minutes of your life you’ll never get back—time you could've spent writing!

Circumstances. Are circumstances beyond your control? Please leave a comment and we’ll brainstorm ways to help improve your situation.

Progress. Even if you haven’t met your goal but if you’ve written, then you’ve made forward motion, which is something to celebrate. So keep writing until the end of the month—and beyond!

Your turn. What’s your best tip to being successful during NaNoWriMo, or any time you’re on a writing deadline? What are your favorite writing snacks? What’s your best energy booster? How do you keep distractions at bay? How can someone improve that situation (examples left in the comment section) that feels beyond her control? Share what’s working for you. Maybe it will work for us.

~ Roxanne, along with all the Ponderers, wishes you success in reaching your writing goals this November.  

23 comments:

  1. Love this practical, realistic post, Roxanne.
    Best NaNoWriMo/MBTWriMo tip?
    Get up early, as in earlier than everyone else in your house, to write. Or earlier than you're used to.

    It's the only thing that works for me.

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    1. Yes, every extra minute adds writing time to your day. People get up to exercise, why not for writing? Isn't achieving your dream worth the effort?

      Thanks, Beth!

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    2. I'm not a morning person. At all. However, I often stay up after everyone has gone to bed to write. I think it is probably as effective for us Night Owls.

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  2. The one thing I do when I don't want to write and should: Make myself sit down and write for 15 minutes, promising myself after 15 minutes I can quit. I never do. Those few minutes jump start me.

    Great suggestions Roxanne!

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    1. Pat, Getting started is the hardest part for me too. Great suggestion. Thanks!

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    2. Pat, that has to be one of the greatest suggestions I've ever heard. So simple, and yet, genius!! I am making a note of that...I think it might just work for me! Thanks!!

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  3. Great tips, Roxanne, whether its November writing month or not!

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  4. Glad you feel they'll benefit you!

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  5. I haven't been very successful at writing this month. Several situations were unavoidable. No worries though, I'm looking on the up side. My spouse and two boys leave for a hunting trip soon. The girls are out of school, but I'm going to be a writing fiend next week. So very excited :)

    Thanks Roxanne, for reminding me my dream is worth the time and the sacrifice.

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    1. Alena, I'm so glad you're going to seize time for your dream. You are worth it!

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  6. NaNoWriMo lasted for a day for me because I was trying to juggle two stories and couldn't do it. But my biggest timesaving NaNo tip is to know your character and story before you begin so you're not wasting writing time what happens next. My Book Therapy's Book Buddy is a great resource for this.

    When I'm on deadline, I do enlist my family to pitch in with the laundry, dinner and keeping the house cleaned up. Having a preplanned menu helps with the "What's for dinner" syndrome. Each person's situation is different so what works for one writer may not work for another. Don't be afraid to ask family and friends for help. Consider play date swaps to give yourself more writing time if you have little ones.

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    1. Lisa, I don't think anyone would be able to juggle two stories, work full-time and participate in NaNo. Whew! Makes me tired just thinking of it.

      Great ideas on enlisting help and on knowing your character and story before you start. I love MBT's Book Buddy too. Thanks for your suggestions!

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  7. I haven't quite hit the halfway mark yet, but I should be able to catch up in the next couple of days. My new NaNo incentive is that I get to eat a double-stuf Oreo for every 1k words I write. And I really want an Oreo right now, so...I'm off to write! :0)

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    1. Susan

      Yum. I love Oreos too. In my wip, my heroine eats half a sleeve while talking to her BFF about the hero. She's aghast when she finally notices how much she's eaten. What a fun reward!

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  8. Roxanne,
    Great post. I love your straightforward words here.

    I'm not doing NaNo this month, but last year, I found that having my story well mapped out ahead of time made it easy for me to just sit down and write in the times I had available to write. I usually got 1500 words in an hour (or close) because I saw the picture of where the scene was going.

    I got up at a VERY early hour, which was my guaranteed time to write in the day. I also postponed a number of activities (like lunch with friends after Bible study) to go home and write. Enlisting my hubby and kids in advance gave me the grace to let things go and to make very simple suppers for the family.

    The biggest benefit to me was, on December 1st last year, when my youngest asked me how many words I'd written, telling him 60,000 and seeing his smile and feeling his arms wrap around my waist was the biggest kudo I could have received.

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    1. Jeanne, I can picture the scene with your son. So awesome! Congratulations on your accomplishment and thanks for the great tips on planning ahead, enlisting your family and keeping things simple.

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  9. I'm not officially doing NaNo this year, but I did/do have a writing goal for November that adds up to about 57,000 words...so I'm doing my own little version of NaNo.

    What helps me stay on track is turning off my Internet. It's definitely my biggest distraction. I also communicate with my crit partner daily and we usually tell each other what our writing goals for the week, even day, are. Knowing she knows that I've set a goal for, say, 3000 words one evening...and knowing she'll ask me the next day how it went...keeps me on track. (Although, we do tend to have pretty hefty amounts of grace for each other when we don't hit our goals.) Anyway, partnering with her has been one of the absolute best things I've done for my writing!

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    1. Melissa,

      The internet is definitely one of my time wasters. Staying off until my word count if completed is a must! Thanks for sharing how helpful it is to have an accountability partner--especially one who knows when to push and when to offer a little grace. ;-)

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  10. Great post, Roxanne! I'm going to revisit it in January. My NaNoWriMo never got off the ground. Don't get me wrong, I've written at least 10,000 words this month, they just weren't fiction. Unfortunately for me, my English BA class required so much writing this month that it got in the way of writing what I *wanted* to. I did write a narrative about a specific event in my life, so that was good. The rest of it was papers on Multicultural Literature. Sigh. At least I was writing *something* so that's good.I might've been able to swing it if I'd done a little more pre-planning (like Lisa suggested) but we were on a family vacation, and I couldn't justify working during. But I do have a plan. December, crazy as it may sound, is actually a slow time for us. So, I am getting caught up on my school work now and working out my Book Buddy so I can try again in January. I know a lot of people do a JanNoWriMo, so that's my plan. I will try to remember to come back and read this on the 15th of January. =)

    As far as snacks go, I like to get the kind of caramels that take some time to dissolve in your mouth (if you can avoid chewing them, lol) and then I try to see how many words I can write before it's time to unwrap another one. I'm sure my dentist would not approve, but hey, whatever works, right?

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    1. Heidi,

      I don't know why November was chosen. After all, it has one less day and includes a national holiday. I'm all for a JaNoWriMo. You go, girl!

      FYI. Did you know the original novel writing month was July?

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  11. Great post!!! I know I'm slow in responding but it has been one of those days with the kids. I love my kids but they can be an added challenge with writing. This year I wanted to help cheer me on with NaNoWriMo so I have a balloon wall. Each balloon is worth 5000 words. They get to pop them as I go. Mark my progress the the every 4th balloon (20k words) I promised a trip to the DQ. They have loved it and have been more understanding and almost even excited about my writing time. Instead of "Are you done yet?" Like last year. It is, "How many words today, mommy." Such a better encourager.
    I have also been trying to get up earlier - that helps too. So, I need to get to bed now.

    Night All

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  12. Tari,

    I love your balloon wall. What a great visual reminder of your progress. I hope your kids get lots of trips to DQ. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  13. I was meeting my daily goals until I got interrupted by an unexpected invitation to a 5 day trip with my mom and two sisters. It was fun and though I tried to write, I couldn't do more than a few hundred words a day. When I got back, I started writing again, some days meeting the goal, others not, but still, forward motion. Then I received a rejection, though kindly worded and containing suggestions, somehow it stopped me. I'm allowing myself a little break. I will pick up writing again in a few days, but for now, I'm reading and thinking. Nanowrimo shows me I can have a daily writing habit, and it doesn't need to be limited to November.

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