NaNoWriMo: Out of the Gate, Getting Into the Zone
Today is Tuesday, November 3rd and in the U.S.A, it’s also Election Day. But for NaNoWriMo participants, it’s the day their novel hits 5,001 words. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s when thousands (millions?) of people all over the world pledge to write 50,000 words of their novel in the month of November.
If you are a NaNoWriMo participant, hopefully, you’ve been clocking 1,667 words every day because slow and steady will win this race. However, because human nature being what it is, you might want to push yourself a bit more in the opening days of NaNoWriMo as insurance against the days when the words won’t come or you’re feeling a bit stalled.
Since your project still has that “new car smell” to it and it’s still a little exciting and different to carve out some time to write every day, you probably haven’t had a chance to fall into bad habits yet. So eke out a few more words this week when you can. Try to do a stretch goal of 2,000 words a day––at least for this week. That will put you at 14,000 by the end of the week, almost 2,400 words ahead of schedule.
But be careful not to overdo it. The last thing you want to do is burn yourself out in the first few weeks of the challenge. This is something you want to treat as a gentle push before you get too ingrained in your new writing habit. Don’t think you have to do the 2,000 words all in one sitting either. You might find it helpful to do several small writing sprints throughout the day. You can even switch it up and record some words, dictating it into your phone while taking the dog out for a walk or in a hands free recorder while driving to the store.
Stay on Track
One way to keep yourself on track with your word count is to use an online tracker. I like to use Pacemaker Planner.
It’s free to track two projects. It’s very easy to set up. You name your project and tell it how you want to track your word count. Every time you save a new word count, fireworks light up on the screen and it records the new total. If you do fall behind, it will automatically tell you what your daily word count needs to be to catch up. And if you do more words that what you’ve allotted for, it will also adjust the rest of the month’s word count so you can see where you are on the road to 50,000 words.
If you’re finding it hard to get started writing and you like games, consider trying out 4thewords. It’s a fantasy role playing game where you enter in your word counts to defeat monsters. The more words you write, the more monsters you defeat, and the more treasure you accumulate to buy better equipment and items. It’s free for the first thirty days, which makes it excellent to try out for NaNoWriMo. Then it’s $4.00 a month after that. It’s helpful to make writing fun and a game, both of which will be very helpful to keeping you motivated for the rest of the month.
Make Your Space Work for You
By now, you’ve probably established the place where you’re going to be doing the majority of your novel writing this month. Take a few extra minutes during non-writing time to make it as comfortable, yet as distraction free as you can.
Here are some of my favorite tips:
- I always keep a full tumbler of ice water on hand.
- I have essential oils in case I need to clear some space in my brain; sniffing citrus and mint scents wakes me up. Lavender calms and soothes. I’ve found that inhaling a pleasant smell keeps me more focused on my task.
- You can also have a kitchen timer for word sprints.
- Have a notebook and pen for writing notes or things to look up after the writing session, and maybe a small candy jar to help the creative process along. (If you hurry, you might get some Halloween candy at a steep discount!)
Another thing that I’ve found handy is to have a piece of paper to track your writing time and word count. It’s very helpful to know your writing speed, especially if you need to plan for a set amount of writing time each day. An exercise to help you do this is the writing sprint. Set a time for fifteen minutes and in that time, do nothing but write. At the end of the fifteen minutes, tally up the word count and multiply by four. If you wrote 250 words, then in one hour you can conceivably do 1,000 words. So that means it will take you 50 hours of writing this month to make 50,000 words. How you schedule that time is up to you.
Good luck and good writing!
USA Today bestselling author, Jamie K. Schmidt, writes erotic contemporary love stories and paranormal romances. Her steamy, romantic comedy, Life’s a Beach, reached #65 on USA Today, #2 on Barnes & Noble and #9 on Amazon and iBooks. Her Club Inferno series from Random House’s Loveswept line has hit both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble top one hundred lists. The first book in the series, Heat, put her on the USA Today bestseller list for the first time, and is a #1 Amazon bestseller. Her book Stud was a 2018 Romance Writers of America Rita® Finalist in Erotica. Her dragon paranormal romance series has been called “fun and quirky” and “endearing.” Partnered with New York Times bestselling author and actress, Jenna Jameson, Jamie’s hardcover debut, SPICE, continues Jenna’s FATE trilogy.