Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Prep: Relax

If you are embarking on the perilous quest that is NaNoWriMo, you’re in for a stressful ride. Writing a novel in merely thirty days is quite an undertaking and it can feel like an unbearable amount of work. In fact, preparing for NaNoWriMo might be enough to make you anxious. In order to retain your sanity throughout the rest of this month and all of next month, it’s a good idea to figure out a way to relax. If you are too stressed out, you’ll never be able to write effectively… and this will stress you out even more. I’ve tried many methods of relaxation and I’ve found several that work for me. If you don’t see anything that works for you, keep searching. Everyone has something that can calm them down.

Listening to Music
I don’t know what it is about music, but it has the ability to take the listener to another place. No matter how stressed out you might be in your own life, music is able to reduce that feeling. I do listen to music when I write, but I tend to listen to a vastly different type of music when I relax. This way, my mind knows when it’s time to create and when it’s time to relax.

It doesn’t even have to be full songs that calm me, sounds do this too. Two of my favorite sounds are waves on the beach and the sound of rain. Everyone might find something different to relax them, but I know that these sounds help me to distance myself and relax.

Take a Break
When you’re trying to meet a deadline, it’s easy to overwork yourself. Working yourself this hard can actually be counterproductive and hurt you in the long run. If you’re at a point in your writing where you are incredibly frustrated, take a break. It won’t do any good to stare at a computer screen. Go spend time with family or friends. Spend some time outside and get some fresh air. As long as you’re getting away from the screen and giving your brain a break, you’ll recharge and be more productive when you go back to your writing.

In some cases, it might be a good idea to build in your breaks. Set a timer and write for an hour. Once the timer rings, give yourself a ten minute break. This type of system will allow you to mentally recharge and you’ll get more done while taking breaks than you would have before.

Exercise
Exercising is a great way to relieve stress and get your endorphins flowing. Endorphins are the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy. Regardless of your previous stress levels, these endorphins will help you relax in no time. There are many different ways to get exercise, even if you’re not particularly fit or active. Taking a walk is a way to get outside and get in some cardio. Yoga is a soothing exercise that may be a better option for someone who does not want to run. Play catch in the park with your dog or gather up some friends for a pick up game of basketball. Whatever it is, find a form of exercise and try it out.

Sleep
It sounds silly, but many adults neglect the amount of sleep that they need to properly function. If you’re trying to pound out 50,000 words, you may be sacrificing your sleep. However, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. It’s been proven time after time that people are more productive after getting a full night’s sleep. You will be a lot more emotionally stable if you’re well rested, decreasing the amount of stress that you may feel. Even if you are still stressed with proper sleep, you’ll be better equipped to handle the stress than if you were sleep deprived.

Sleep doesn’t only refer to the sleep you do at night. If you’re feeling fatigued during the day, there’s nothing wrong with a power nap. Stepping away from a stressful project and taking a half hour nap could help you distance yourself from the problem. After your half hour, you can revisit your writing with fresh and well rested eyes.

Writing can be stressful, especially if you’re on a deadline. Reduce your stress and feel better about your novel by finding a relaxation method that works for you.

Until next week,

Debbie

I will continue my NaNoWriMo Prep series through October and I will pick up my NaNoWriMo series throughout November.

NaNoWriMo Prep 2014:

NaNoWriMo Prep: Time Management
NaNoWriMo Prep: Research Now, Not in November
NaNoWriMo Prep: Let People Know Your Goal
NaNoWriMo Prep: Give Yourself Positive Reinforcement

NaNoWriMo Prep: Just Say Yes!

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Every November, writers from all over take the challenge to write 50,000 words in just 30 days. It’s a literary challenge like none other and last year, over 700,000 writers entered the contest.

The thought of 50,000 words in 30 days is incredibly overwhelming. Writing at least 1,667 words every day is a huge commitment and many writers pass up NaNoWriMo because they’re scared that they will fail to reach their goal.

Last year was my first year to officially participate in NaNoWriMo and I had been apprehensive about it for that exact reason. I had known about it for quite a few years before, but I was never confident enough to take the plunge. I knew that I was more than capable of writing a novel, but the deadline discouraged me and kept me from participating.

When I did finally decide to participate last year, I completed my goal by Thanksgiving and couldn’t have been more proud. If you are unsure of whether or not you should participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I encourage you to just say yes and sign up for it. It may sound stressful, but there are many benefits that come with it.

Development of a Writing Routine
Before I started NaNoWriMo last year, I wrote whenever I felt like it. If I didn’t feel particularly motivated one day, I just skipped it and told myself I would write another day. You cannot do that during NaNoWriMo. If you don’t feel like writing, you need to power through your mental block. The deadline is too tight and the requirement is too large for you not to write often. When you know that you need to write every day, the development of a routine naturally occurs and you’ll soon find it easier to sit down and write every day. Writing will become second nature and as a writer, this is an amazing feeling.

Confidence as a Writer
As I mentioned before, the feeling that you get when you finish a novel is unparalleled. However, the journey to the finish line feels just as good. It’s fair to say that the more that you write, the better you get. If you write every day for thirty days, you’ll begin to get comfortable with your own writing style and you may notice your skills flourish. There is no better feeling than having confidence in your abilities.

A Network of Fellow Writers
Writing is typically a solitary act and it’s easy to feel alone with your thoughts. However, NaNoWriMo offers you the ability to connect with fellow writers who are also participating in the challenge. These people will understand the obstacles that you face, give you feedback on your novel, and lend their support and advice. Forming this network is completely optional, but the social aspect is not widely known.

A Rough Draft of a Novel
Once November ends, you will have a rough draft of a novel! Whether it’s your first or fiftieth, writing a novel is a major accomplishment. Once you have finished your draft, you can decide whether to hide it away on your desktop or eventually pursue publication. Either way, you will officially be able to say that you have written a novel and that’s something to brag about.

All in all, there’s really nothing to lose when you say yes to NaNoWriMo. There is no fee to participate and there is no penalty if you do not complete your goal. I plan on participating in NaNoWriMo again this year and I hope that you all do as well. If you’ve ever expressed any interest in writing a novel, just say yes and sign up at nanowrimo.org.

Until next week,

Debbie

I will continue my NaNoWriMo Prep series through October and I will pick up my NaNoWriMo series throughout November.

NaNoWriMo Prep 2014:

NaNoWriMo Prep: Time Management
NaNoWriMo Prep: Research Now, Not in November
NaNoWriMo Prep: Let People Know Your Goal
NaNoWriMo Prep: Give Yourself Positive Reinforcement

Get Ready for Camp NaNoWriMo!

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, occurs every November and challenges writers to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Millions of writers take up this challenge every year and although not everyone is able to complete the challenge, NaNoWriMo is an excellent way to get motivated to write. However, there are some writers who may not feel comfortable making the commitment to writing 50,000 words in 30 days, or for those who would rather work at their own pace. Because of these reasonable hesitations, Camp NaNoWriMo was created.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge similar to NaNoWriMo, but it allows writers to work at their own pace and set their own writing goals. There are two different “camp sessions” of Camp NaNoWriMo and writers can either participate in April, July, or both. Writers can set their goals anywhere between 10,000 words to 1,000,000 words and the project does not necessarily have to be novel related. This gives writers the freedom to write anything, such as a novel, short story, graphic novel, screenplay, or any other type literary work. It’s a great alternative to NaNoWriMo or a great supplement to the writers who crave the motivation of NaNoWriMo but don’t want to wait for November.

A unique aspect of Camp NaNoWriMo is that you get placed into “cabins” or writing groups. Each cabin is made up of twelve writers and you are able to set your own preferences for the writing group that you are placed in. One of the determining factors in the placement into a writing group is the genre in which your work will be classified. Based on what you will be writing, Camp NaNoWriMo will attempt to place you in a group of like-minded writers. This is a great feature and because the writers in your writing group will be interested in and writing in the same genre, it will be easier to lean on one another for support.

If you are a part of a writing group or if you have a group friends who all enjoy writing, Camp NaNoWriMo also has private cabins. With this feature, a writer is able to invite up to eleven friends into their private writing group. If you have less than eleven friends in your writing group, you can open up your group and make it public if you’d like. I think this is a great new idea to get your friends involved and it’s a excellent way to support each other throughout April.

NaNoWriMo offers discounts and prizes to the writers who participate and complete the event and Camp NaNoWriMo is no different. Although the prize list is not as extensive as the one in November, a participant of Camp NaNoWriMo could win anything from discounts on writing software to specials on self publishing services. There are a number of sponsors for this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo and many of them are offering giveaways to those writers who participate and complete their personal word count goal.

I completed NaNoWriMo this past November and I found that my motivation was incredibly high. I was able to reach my 50,000 word goal and I’m not sure if I would have written that many words in November if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo. I think that Camp NaNoWriMo is a great alternative and I will be using April to finish up the second half of a novel that has been sitting on my computer, untouched.

Last October, I wrote a series of NaNoWriMo prep blogs in preparation for NaNoWriMo in November. Although you may not need as much prep time for Camp NaNoWriMo, I have left the links to the prep blogs below.

NaNoWriMo Prep: Time Management
NaNoWriMo Prep: Research Now, Not in November
NaNoWriMo Prep: Let People Know Your Goal
NaNoWriMo Prep: Give Yourself Positive Reinforcement

If you are participating in Camp NaNoWriMo and have any tips or thoughts on the event, please share them in the comments! If you are interested in signing up for Camp NaNoWriMo, click here.

Camp NaNoWriMo begins on April 1! If you are planning on participating, good luck!

Until next week,

Debbie

NaNoWriMo: Time to Revise

ItWinner-2014-Square-Button‘s been over a month since the end of NaNoWriMo and chances are, your manuscript is sitting untouched on your computer. With a new year comes new goals and setting a goal to revise your NaNoWriMo manuscript is a great one. Not only will revising your manuscript get you to write more every day, it will also make all of the work that you put in during November worth it. It may be intimidating but if you put your mind to it, you can make your manuscript into the novel that you always hoped it would become.

The first thing that you should do before you edit is to read any outlines that you created, and then read your manuscript. Reading all of the material you have on your novel will help you get back into the world that you created during November. Be on the look out for any inconsistencies, but don’t edit your manuscript until you’ve read the entire thing. In order to successfully edit, you will want a full picture of your story before you begin to revise it.

Once you have read your manuscript and any notes that you have with it, it’s time to make a new outline. In the rush of November, you may have left out scenes that would have made more of an impact on your novel. You may also notice that you have written scenes in a different order than you want them. Before you begin to edit, make sure that you have a new outline so that you know what direction to go in.

Now it’s time to revise. You don’t have the time limit that you had during November, so take your time. If you noticed inconsistencies in your setting, it is okay to completely restructure it. If you want to add more scenes, take your time writing them. During this revision period, you will have plenty of time to add the details, subplots, or the ending that you didn’t have time for during November. When trying to catch grammatical mistakes, remember to read your manuscript out loud. You will most likely notice if a sentence is worded awkwardly if you speak it rather than read over it. Even if you only edit for twenty minutes a day, you will notice a big difference in your manuscript over the next few months.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to delete. Yes, you worked incredibly hard during November and that work should not be discredited. However, as you restructure your novel, some scenes may no longer fit. Don’t feel bad about deleting large portions of your manuscript in order to improve it. If you want to successfully finish your novel, you have to be prepared to do lots of rewriting. As painful as it will be to watch your word count initially plummet, you’ll feel better when you have a much stronger second draft.

If you have any tips that you used while rewriting your NaNoWriMo manuscript, please feel free to share them in the comments. If you decide to make 2015 your year of revision, I wish you the best of luck!

Until next time,

Debbie

NaNoWriMo: Stay Focused During Thanksgiving

We are quickly approaching the last full week of NaNoWriMo and with the final week comes Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a great holiday that marks the beginning of the holiday season, but it does bring many distractions for someone attempting to finish strong during NaNoWriMo. With family, friends, parades, football, Black Friday shopping, decorating, and entertaining, it’s hard to fathom the idea of finishing your 50,000 words. However, there are several things that you can do now that will help you whenever Thanksgiving comes and you find yourself away from your computer.

Starting tomorrow, start waking up earlier. Try to make it a habit to start writing shortly after you wake up. During Thanksgiving, your days will most likely be filled with family, friends, and everything that goes on with the holidays. These festive days may turn into festive evenings that eat away much of your writing time. If you write your words before you start your day, it will eliminate the guilt of not writing throughout the day because you would have already written your words that morning. You will also lower your stress levels knowing that your writing for the day is done.

If time is available, build yourself a word count cushion before Thanksgiving arrives. If you’ve been consistently writing 1,667 words every day, challenge yourself to write 2,500 words or even 3,000 words over the next few days. It sounds like it could be difficult, especially if you’re beginning to burn out. However, there is a chance that you may not be able to write the words you need on Thanksgiving. You’ll be incredibly thankful for the cushion you’ve given yourself that will keep you on track.

When Thanksgiving begins and you find it difficult to make time to sit at you computer, make sure you have a pen and paper or your phone handy. Between the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Thanksgiving football, or Black Friday check-out lines, you will probably find yourself with time that you are just sitting/standing around. During this down time, jot down your thoughts in a journal or text yourself notes that you can copy into your manuscript later. You will add more words than you’d expect if you jot down thoughts during the day.

Most importantly, try not to stress out over meeting your word count requirement. Thanksgiving is a day about reflecting on what you are thankful for and spending time with those you love. The holiday may add distractions, but if you keep your head low and focus, you will soon be able to call yourself a NaNoWriMo winner.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I hope your novel writing is going well and you’re able to complete your 50,000 word count! If you have any thoughts to share about staying focused during Thanksgiving, please share them in the comments!

Until next week,

Debbie