Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to Survive NaNoWriMo

Since it's the vogue thing to do, I wanted to throw in my two cents for NaNoWriMo.

This will be my third year "competing." My first year, I heard about it and signed up around 10pm on October 31, with not a clue in my mind what I'd write. I was working full time at the animal shelter then, and had never finished anything except for some poems and a short story.

I tried, but I failed: I peetered out around 32k? But something good came from it: that was where I developed Saving Me, the women's fiction novel that I finally finished earlier this year. I wouldn't change that NaNo for anything. I may not have won, but I created a story that I could truly love.

Last year I was out of work with my wrist injury, my husband was gone 12 hours a day, and I had zero social life (some things don't change). So yeah, I won that year. I wrote my 50k in 23 days, due to some Thanksgiving obligations.

I'm not what one would consider a fast writer by any means. Sure, I can churn out a few thousand in a sitting, but it's the day-after-day bit that really gets hard. Believe me.

Anyway, there were FOUR things that really helped me get through that November, and I'd like to share them with you:

1. Self-Rewarding
  I don't usually advocate for self-rewarding during writing, but it's a totally different story come November. I respond as well to a bribe as the next person. My bribe of choice?

30 Rock! The entire series as it was then was available for instant play on Netflix. I'd make myself an arbitrary goal (say, 750 words or 1k) and when I reached it, watch an episode. This worked wonders! It's a fantastic show, and I'd go speeding through my daily word count in order to watch the next episode.

2. Just For You, Baby

  Having something that you use/eat/drink only during NaNoWriMo. It's Pavlovian--as soon as you encounter that item, you're instantly in the NaNo frame of mind! My special thing?

This tea is the shit. For real, if you like peppermint tea, try this! It's only available during holiday season in the stores, which makes it fairly easy to save for NaNo. Unfortunately I haven't found it for this year, but I still have a week, dammit!

3. Support

   This year is going to be great, since I know so many of you bloggers and friends are participating. Seriously, the level of awesome is approaching epic. However, last year I only knew 2 other ladies doing NaNo, and only one of them was hardcore about it. So, I found myself a member of the official NaNoWriMo Facebook Group. We were our own little cheer team, and it was great! I doubt I'll be as active this year, but I won't forget their amazing support!

4. Fun! Fun!

   Really, that's the name of the game, guys. Let me tell you, if you haven't spent any time mucking around in the plethora of NaNo forums, you're missing out! There's a thread for everything, if you just look! Forums by genre, by age, forums for questions, forums for answers, and forums upon forums of just plain silliness! The forums are one of the main things I look forward to every year. I was there within minutes of the Office of Letters and Light folks resetting everything for 2010.

It's great to do all your writing during the day (or whenever) and check that 1,667 words off your calendar (the plotters, of course), but you're probably going to be finding yourself doing this more than once:

I know I did! And weirdly, the hours between midnight and 2am were like magic--the words just flowed. Maybe I was hypnotized by the glow of the computer monitor? Either way, it worked! It's always good to get ahead on your word count, just to plan for the unexpected. (And there's a sense of satisfaction in watching your progress bar skyrocket past your friends'.)

Don't forget to backup your work! Google Documents, jump drives, external hard-drives, email! Do it! Do it! Do it! 

So, to all of you who are waiting for next Monday: bon voyage! Can't wait to see you there!

If you haven't buddied me, my username is summerbp.

And don't forget to please sign up for my blogfest in the linky and spread the word!! 


Hannah said...

My favorite holiday tea is the apple cider tea. Apple cider can get a bit to sugary if you drink cup after cup and then I gets sick.

I didn't win last year but I wasn't as excited about my story but knew the rules were to write something new. So alas, I tried something new. I'm glad I did because I know what I face now. I don't really have beginners luck so hopefully this time, I'm straight.

I don't usually eat or drink while writing but I may start. I need something else to give me a boost. I thinking apple cider tea and these danish cookies that Sam found for me. You put them on the cup of tea and it warms the caramel inside. It's the Dutch way.

Saumya said...

I LOVE 30 Rock!! Do you watch this season?? I'm a couple of episodes behind :( Good luck with NaNo. Your tips are going to help me with my daily writing.

Charity Bradford said...

The best thing about Nano being in November is that all the Halloween candy goes on sale 75% off. You can go buy your favorite stuff cheap!

I take bags of it to the write-ins. It's the only time of the year I give myself permission to eat as many Snickers Minis as I want.

Meredith said...

So exciting! I'm not officially doing NaNo, because I've already started my new WiP and want to wrap it up, but I'm totally soaking up the advice from all you NaNoers. Peppermint tea sounds perfect!

Christine Danek said...

I'm not participating. Maybe I'm a wuss. I feel like a non writer because I'm not. I'm having a hard enough time keeping up with revisions. Plus, with the hubs home he has no sympathy for the writing lately. I'm getting a little down about that. Oh well, sorry for the rant.
I love 30 rock--best show evah.
Hope you are well. Good luck-- you will rock it.

Jessica Lemmon said...

I'm participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. I need a new book (see my blog) - I mean NEED with a capital N-E-E-D!

I have written a first draft in four weeks before, but I am wondernig now... will lightning strike again???

Old Kitty said...

Oh my goodness - congratulations with winning Nano last year!! Yay!!

And thanks for sharing your tips on how to survive the nano month!! I wish everyone doing this all the best - it's very challenging - you'll definitely need to be mentally and emotionally prepared - and you can't go far wrong with exclusive green tea and the support of fellow nanos!!

Take care

Jayne said...

That tea looks amazing. I am partial to a nice peppermint here and there - I wonder if I can find it online?!

I would be tempted to do Nano just for that lovely support. But every year I have been all kinds of frantic in November and I never seem to be at the right point with my writing - I am either halfway through a novel or knee deep in edits. I am aware that this is all excuses though - everyone is busy and time has to be created from somewhere!

Jon Paul said...

Great advice! Yeah, it's gonna be fun! I can't wait. I'm tapping my feet just thinking about it!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Great suggestions for getting through! I'm going to go tea shopping and get a pretty good smelling candle, I think. Also thinking I might just have to get some sort of non-lethal but highly contagious disease that would require me to be quarrantined to my bedroom with my laptop for the next month...

Summer Frey said...

@Saumya: Yes, I'm still a devoted 30 Rock fan!

@Jayne: I'm pretty sure you can! I see it on Amazon, at least. And yes--lots of people are busy to the max but still try NaNo. Even if they don't win, they still get to try! I forget what the official stats are, but the percentage of participants to winners is surprisingly low.

@JP: Me too!!

@Terri Anne: Oh, yes: tea and candles are a necessary part of my process! Just wait till my picture blogfest--you'll see just how many candles I need. :)

Unknown said...

I love that tea, too -- and I'm not a tea drinker, LOL! Good luck with NaNo. I know you're going to have a great time with it!

Lola Sharp said...

Dude, I've never fallen asleep at my computer before. I gots to be horizontal to sleep. But my 'in the zone' sweet spot bewitching hours are also from midnight to 2-3 a.m.

We still have to do our racing widgets w/ JP (and Portia and Tara if they want. I'm still not sure Tara's really gonna do it. I'll be talking with her today....but we we gotta kick some JP ass.)

Glad you didn't blow away and leave me to go hang with the great and wonderful Oz. *hugs*

Love ya,

Amie Kaufman said...

Love the tips, thank you! I do something similar to the tea, only with music--when I hear a particular album, I know what I'm supposed to be doing! Also a huge fan of the reward system, and saddling up for my second NaNo this year. I've just buddied you--I'm Siesta.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think I've watched all the 30 Rock episodes on NetFlix, but I'll remember the forums.

Sarah Ahiers said...

i'm so excited about all my NaNo buddies this year! It's going to be EPIC!

Melissa Hurst said...

Great advice! I'm still not sure if I'm going to do Nano (I'm in the middle of revising my current WiP). But if I do, I agree about rewarding yourself. Now to figure out what that reward will be:)

DEZMOND said...

self-rewarding always works for me in any occasion even when I don't have anything to do :)))

Melissa said...

I'm rewarding myself with my favorite shows as well!! And the support of the blogosphere is going to be invaluable, I know it.

Elizabeth said...

TV as a motivational tool. I LIKE IT. Mostly because I rarely have time for TV anymore. (I miss it.)


Great tips! Ah can't wait! Good luck!

Unknown said...

For starters congrats on winning last year. I did it for the first time last year after hearing about it by pure accident. I self rewarded with dark chocolate and LOTS of coffee. Going to make my little kit up Friday after I get paid.

I think I have you on my buddy list but will go check just to be sure. :)

Jamie Gibbs said...

I think I'm gonna score some Mountain Dew as my reward drink, hehe. Good idea with the TV rewards too, I think I'll go for some How I Met Your Mother or a bit of British Comedy.

Looking forward to starting next week! Now all I gotta do is find a time slot that I can write in!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Oh, gosh, Jamie;
Are you channeling Cornholio before you've even gotten the caffeine in you?