Monday, October 11, 2010

Five Steps to a NaNoWriMo Win

So, I've developped a very simple way of breezing through NaNoWriMo, which works whether you are a planner or a pantser. You have to be willing to forget about your inner editor, but when you participate in November's frenzy, you don't have that choice anyway.

So, what are the five steps?

1. Sit down at your desk. Well, sit down anywhere comfortable and isolated. You don't want people talking to you.
2. Close the internet. This is very important, because it will greatly diminish the temptation to procrastinate. The harder it is to turn your net back on, the better.
3. Write for 20 minutes. Don't stop. Write what comes to mind, and don't go back to erase it. Just write write write, until the 20 minutes are finished. You can do 15 or 30 minutes sprints too. I work better with 20, but I know others will prefer different length.
4. Take a 5-10 minute break. Rest your wrists. Don't erase what you just wrote. Just rest, and think of what will come next.
5. Repeat 3 and 4 until you hit your goal. Depending on your speed, I have seen writers bash out from 400 to 1000 words in this lapse of time. I do around 750, and I'm not that fast a typist.

What does this mean? Within a hour, you can hit your daily 1667 words. Of course there will be distractions, and sometimes you'll take longer. But if you sit down for two hours a day and do this, you'll steadily advance toward your 50k goal.

This is also a lot funnier with friends. Maybe it's just me, but when others are typing with me, I feel guilty if I stop. So I keep going, and by the end of the sprint, I have a couple more hundreds to my word count.

There are hundreds of ways to finish NaNo. This is mine, and once I discovered what I could do with 15 minutes of writing, I began sneaking time everywhere I could. I never thought I had that much spare time.


  1. Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Speaking of how much you can write within 20 minutes, the other day I just figured out - while doing NaNoWordSprints - I can write nearly 1k words in 30 minutes :D I was so surprised because I thought I was only at 1k an hour!

    And it does make a huge difference if you ignore EVERYTHING and simply write, try not to even stop for your own thoughts!!

    Great post!

  3. Thanks guys!

    And you're right, when you do nothing but write, it makes a huge difference. I used to average 1k per hour, and I still do when I don't sprint. This little method changed my NaNo life.

  4. I love sneaking time (stickies are really great for little snatches of dialogue). I've even been known to write a couple hundred words while waiting at a red light on my way to work in the morning (shhhh! Don't tell the cops)

    Mind if I steal some of your steps for my NaNo library presentation tonight? I'm trying to give a broad range of tips on "how to write a novel in 30 days".

  5. Sure, go right ahead! I'm not about to hoard this knowledge. ;) I'd much rather see you help others with it. Plus, I do sprints with my region every year, and my Wrimos all say it is super helpful.

  6. Hehe, great advice... Step 2 is the hardest one I reckon *winks*

  7. Oh yes. Definitely the hardest, especially with the NaNoWriMo forums waving at you... one or two click away... just waiting for you. It's so hard to resist them!

  8. Great post, Claudie. I just wrote a post

    about the upcoming NaNoRimo and directed people to your blog. Hopefully more people will participate in NaNoRimo in Quebec.

    Cheers --- Larry

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Duh, sorry. My bad.
    What I meant to say was I need to do that in general when it comes to writing. Just turn off the internet. Easier said than done!

  11. Wow, Larry, thanks about that! I agree about people participating in Quebec City. The more the merriest, after all! :)

    Lydia, what you say about the internet is quite true. I can tell myself to turn off the internet a hundred times before I actually do it. Sometimes, the best is to have a friend giving you the evil eyes when you procrastinate.