Tomorrow is November 1st, and the official start of National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. As the race, chase, and rush to write 50,000 words in a month begins, here are a few things to keep in mind to keep you calm, sane, and writing.
FIGURE OUT WHAT TYPE OF WRITER YOU ARE
When it comes to NaNoWriMo, it’s important to be aware of the type of writer you are. NaNoWriMo believes that there are two types of WriMos: the ‘planner’ and the ‘pantser.’ The ‘planner’ feels more comfortable with rigorous preparation and meticulous planning before and during the month of November. The ‘pantser’ on the other hand, needs hardcore spontaneity and the thrill of working under pressure. As the clock strikes midnight tonight the planner will probably have an outline and detailed notes on characters, plot, and setting, the pantser will have a blank page and ambitious imagination.
We believe both are valid and both can work, but regardless of your method – it’s going to be necessary to avoid becoming overwhelmed by word count and demotivated by productivity slumps. Whether ‘planner’ or ‘pantser’, the reality of the situation is that you will likely fall behind (or if you’re lucky, find yourself temporarily ahead of) the 1,667-words-a-day schedule and that’s OKAY! Life is unpredictable and your plans and timetable will inevitably change. The important thing is to stay calm, be aware of your habits, and adapt.
USE THE RIGHT TOOLS TO ADAPT + LEARN
Learning how you work under pressure to reach a goal is an invaluable lesson with benefits that extend past NaNoWriMo. Here are a few tools we love to analyze your progress and writing style to help you make you most efficient during the month of November.
- WORD COUNTERS: Whether planning or pantsing, knowing how you handle your word count will be crucial to your success – and NaNoWriMo has you covered. Use their word-count scoreboards, widgets, and APIs to track and share your progress, race friends, and maintain a healthy balance between panic and passion. For our planners out there, there are also great word-count calendars, such as Pacemaker Planner or a printable calendar made by Dave Seah, a former NaNoWriMo participant.
- TRACK YOUR TIME: Apps like RescueTime can be extremely helpful during NaNo to help you be aware of your habits and change wasted, idle time into productive writing sessions.
- RETAIN FOCUS + BLOCK DISTRACTIONS: The digital universe is full of time-sucking distractions. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, or wandering Wikipedia research, retaining focus is crucial to making your NaNoWriMo a success. Use Freedom to block digital distractions across all your devices. Schedule blocks in advance for your writing sessions or create a recurring blocks to help make daily undistracted writing a habit.
- ORGANIZATION: Regardless of writing style, organization is key to retaining focus. Two of our favorite tools for research and storyboarding include Evernote and Trello. Evernote can be used online and offline for storing and organizing your research into easily accessible notebooks and notes that can be synced across all your devices. Trello is also a great tool for storyboarding your chapters, keeping track of characters, and keeping intricate plots points flowing logically.
REMEMBER TO SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE
NaNoWriMo is undeniably a lofty goal, and as with any goal – there is always the chance of failure. Throughout the month you will inevitably find yourself stressed and exasperated with an urge to throw your computer, typewriter, or pen out the window.
In these moments, it’s crucial to remind yourself of what is gained and not lost. At the end of the day, the process is more valuable than the product. With each passing day, there is an opportunity to learn about yourself as a writer and creator. Whether you finish NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words, a more intricate plot, an improved character, more productive work habits, improved focus, a writing playlist, or a better idea, you’ve already won and surpassed many others by finding the ultimate joy of creating and making a commitment to do the things that matter.