Skip to main content

NaNoWriMo: 10 Tips to Stay on Top


We're just over three weeks into National Novel Writing month and I'm just now crossing the 75,000-word threshold. I was looking around, thinking about how I got to this point two years in a row at about the same time and I thought I'd bring some of that advice to you.

So, without further ado, here are 10 tips to staying on top of your NaNo...

  1. Know Where You're Going - Have, at the very least, a general road map of where your story is heading. I don't always have the most detailed outline to work from, but I do have a sense of where the book is heading and in what general direction I'd need to take to get to the end. And every time I feel like I might get stuck, I spend some time working in my notebook, asking myself questions about where the next day's writing could go. I also think about things I could include that would make that next day's writing exciting.
  2. Don't revise - This is one of those bits of writing advice that I think is pretty universal for any first draft, but don't go back and revise. Don't even go back and look at the beginning of the book if you can help it. That's a trap that will make it so that you stop your forward progress. 
  3. Build momentum - It's a lot easier to write almost 4k words a day if you do it every day. Soon that pace feels like it's normal. 4k words a day is more doable the more often you do it. And the faster the story builds in your mind, the faster it builds in your draft. 
  4. Make the time - For me, my key writing time, every day, rain or shine, weekday or weekend, is first thing in the morning. I get up at about five no matter what and head straight to the coffee shop or my office and my butt is parked there until I have to either go to work or I need to go eat lunch. There is no in between, there is no excuse. That time is for writing.
  5. Shut off the Internet - That is simply a black hole. When I'm working in November, there is only one website I leave open, and that's the official NaNo page so I can update my word count. While I'm writing I'm not on Facebook, Twitter, email, or anything else. I can't be. Otherwise, that's where my attention gets shunted to.
  6. Be Competitive About It - I'm not a competitive person by nature. At all. But NaNo helps give you the tools to look at the word counts of others, people you admire, friends who are participating, etc. Pick one of them and make sure you stay ahead of them all the time. For me, I just like to be at the top of the pack, writing as much as I can about this book.
  7. Consume media - Don't forget to read and watch movies and ingest stories, fictional and otherwise. It will help inform what you're doing, even if you don't realize it.
  8. Don't give yourself an option - Say what you will about self-imposed deadlines and goals, but not giving yourself an option is incredibly helpful. I don't give myself an option. I have to meet my word count (though I don't usually focus on word count as much outside of November.) But holding yourself accountable is important.
  9. Don't stress if you're behind - 50,000 words is doable in a month. It's even doable in a week if you have to. But if you fall behind your goal, don't stress about it. Just keep getting words down. Moving forward is better than losing momentum completely. 
  10. STAY IN THE HABIT - I think this is one of the most important things. Don't drop out of writing when it's no longer November. I'm on day 505 of my current writing streak and this is my second NaNo in a row that I've connected with a full year of writing in the off-season. Stay in that habit. It'll make the next year that much easier.
I think that's more than enough to help get you through the last week. And if you want to add me as a buddy and try to catch up to me, just look up Swankmotron on the NaNo website.
--
As for my writing, I've had a few pieces come out.

The first piece to come out was my new short story on Patreon: Zero Jeopardy. You can still get in and read it by contributing a single dollar per short story.

The second was this piece about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them for HowStuffWorks. 

Then I had a playlist about this guide to Wookiees in Star Wars.

I've written a boatload, too, so there will definitely be more coming out.


--

As a reminder: Please join my short story Patreon here.  Your contributions to the Patreon help me write more like this.

The Aeronaut and Escape Vector are still out and still need your purchases and reviews. If nothing else, they can use you telling people about them. If you want signed copies, visit the shop here on this page.

As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you. 

And please, please, please don't forget to check out any of my books, drop reviews of them on Amazon or Goodreads, and follow me on twitter and Facebook!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Art and Politics

Art is inherently political.

Let's just get that out of the way. We all have things we want to say (or things we want to not say) in our personal lives that shape the art we make. And artists, more often than not, are trying to say something with their art, even if their goal is to not say something.

There is no doubt that this has been a turbulent week in the country I live in. There are many of us that are confused and shocked and afraid of what might be to come in the future. That's understandable. As artists and writers, I feel like we're typically more empathetic than the general population. It's easy to think about what it's like to be in someone else's shoes because we spend so much of our creative time almost literally in someone else's shoes. And we need to pass that understanding on to our readers or viewers or however else they're consuming this art.

I've seen this troubling idea, though, that art needs to be purely for escape and that p…

Anatomy of a Scene - City Lights

We're going to break down another scene this week, and it's one of my favorites in cinema history. It comes from the ending of City Lights by Charlie Chaplin, which I think is the greatest romantic comedy ever made. 
It's a touching film from 1931 and I would make it mandatory viewing for anyone who wants to learn to tell a story.
The scene we're going to be breaking down comes from the very end of the film, so if you haven't seen it, I don't want to spoil it for you. Go watch the film. You can rent it for $3.99 in HD on Amazon or for free on Hulu with a free trial or plus subscription. You should just buy the Blu-ray, though. You're going to want to revisit it.
For those of you familiar with the movie, or for those of you who are going to ignore my pleas to watch it and go ahead with this post anyway, I'm going to set this clip up a bit before you watch it.
City Lights tells the story of Chaplin's Tramp and how he falls in love with a blind flower …

Salt Lake Comic Con 2016 Schedule

It's time again for Salt Lake Comic Con and I have another packed schedule. This is where I'll be occupied for much of my weekend. I would love for you to come out, see me on a panel, catch me at my signing, or just say hello.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

3:00 pm Fixing Fandom and Ending Bullying and Gatekeeping :: 150G

4:00 pm Fauxthentic History - Star Trek :: 151G

6:00 pm Star Wars Trailer Park :: 151G

8:00 pm The Life and Times of Ahsoka Tano :: 151G

Friday, September 2, 2016

12:00 pm Palpatine's Rise: The Cautionary Tale of the Star Wars Prequels :: 255C

1:00 pm Star Wars: The Life and Times of Han Solo :: 251A

3:00 pm Jeremy Bulloch :: 250A

5:00 pm Stuff You Missed in History Class Live: How Does Historical Fiction Get Made? :: 250A

6:00 pm Bryan Young Signing :: Shadow Mountain - Booth 1807

7:00 pm Adventures in Podcasting :: 251A

8:00 pm What is the Balance of the Force? :: 255F

Saturday, September 2, 2016

11:00 am Famke Janssen :: Grand Ballroom

12:00 pm The Many Fac…