Every year, thousands of people write 50,000 words in 30 days for NaNoWriMo. It isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is possible. If 50,000 words sounds daunting, remember that it breaks down to 1667 words per day. At about 500 words per typed page, that’s only around 3 1/4 pages per day!
Finding 1667 Words
With bite-sized daily goals, a novel in a month is achievable. There are a few common obstacles to that daily word count goal that you may have to overcome. One you get post those obstacles, though, you’re on your way!
Plan Your 1667 Words
One of the big obstacles is often having no direction. I’d a a lot harder to write when you don’t know where your characters are going. Even if you’re not a planner, you can still ensure that you have a direction for your plot.
If you have at least a vague outline – in other words, a beginning, a middle, and an end – you have direction and purpose.
One of the worst things you can do while trying to write quickly is to edit while you write. It’s tempting, I know! That red squiggle becons to you. So how do you solve that? TURN IT OFF!
That’s right: turn off spell check. It isn’t helpful right now. This year, I’m going a step further – I’m turning off my words. Well, sort of. I’m trying a trick I’ve recently learned: changing your font color to a barely visible light gray. It’s a harder to edit something you can’t see! In December, you can do a Select All and turn it all black again, but not before then!!
Alternatively, you can write your first draft by hand. If this were feasible for me, this would be my first choice. Unfortunately, I type much faster than I write, and old injuries make handwriting painful. If you can’t write your first draft by hand, there’s no shame! If you can, it makes your words more concrete in your mind, though. Editing handwriting always looks ugly, too, so there’s an extra deterrent!
Work in Segments
This is one of my favorites. In my college sociology class, my professor wouldn’t do straight lectures. Instead, we got 20 minutes lecture, 10 minutes of a semi-related story, and 20 more minutes of lecture. Aside from the fact that he was already interesting to listen to, my brain didn’t zone out. Having it broken up like that enabled me to absorb so much more than I did in most of my other classes. I’ve used this strategy ever since!
All you have to do is set a timer for a pre-determined amount of time. I would suggest starting with an hour or half-hour. If you start with an hour, it’s enough time to get some solid work done without burning out. You can also see if it’s too much or too little time. You may be surprised at how much you can get done in that time! If an hour ends up being more than you need, you can move it down to 30 minutes at a time, with a 10 minute break between sessions, if you choose. That’s what I tend to do, and it works!
The idea behind this strategy is that you know there’s an end in sight. Knowing that you have a finite amount of time to work with, you’re more likely to hit the keyboard hard. Your brain can focus on the task at hand, safe in the knowledge that you’ll be able to take care of that laundry at the end of your 30 minutes!
Get On a Roll
Sometimes you’ll find that the ideas are flowing and you know that if you stop, they’ll disappear. The best thing I’ve found to do in that case? KEEP GOING. If you stop, those ideas will dry up. If you truly do need to stop, at least take a few minutes to jot down your ideas somewhere. Another way to get the ball rolling again when you come back is to stop in the middle of a sentence. It’s an old trick, but it does work! Stopping in the middle of a sentence will immediately get your brain working as it tries to finish the sentence. It’s a great way to jump start your creative process.
If you’ve struggled with completing NaNoWriMo in the past, these sorts of strategies can drastically increase your productivity. You’ll likely figure out new ones along the way. Remember, 1667 words per day is absolutely achievable. You CAN be one of the thousands who finish NaNoWriMo this year!