NaNoWriMo || How To Survive. How To Thrive.

This year me and my co-blogger, Dash, are participating in NaNoWriMo! This is my fourth year tackling November's crazy writing challen...

This year me and my co-blogger, Dash, are participating in NaNoWriMo! This is my fourth year tackling November's crazy writing challenge, and Dash's second year. You could say we're pro's- Well seasoned seniors of this crazy month full of coffee and words and deadlines and stressful creative outlet that beats you to a pulp in an attempt to push you towards your dream of finishing a novel.

What Is It?

NaNoWriMo is the National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever had trouble finishing a novel? Not enough incentive to get it done? Well this is the time to band together with your fellow writers, pro and amateur alike, and get your writing DONE! NaNoWriMo challenges you to sit down and write 50,000 words to a novel. Every day, upload the number of words you wrote onto your profile. The point of NaNoWriMo is to make friends with fellow writers, and get 50,000 words of that story in your head down onto some paper or in a word document of some kind.

The challenge is seemingly simple. Just add some numbers to your account on the website. However, actually doing it is tough stuff. First, you have to come up with an idea that can stretch 50,000 words. Then you have to write that novel in one month, a task which takes some people years to complete. I've done NaNoWrimo three times. This is my fourth year. Every year I've done this, I've had school and all kinds of other conflicting commitments. Every year, I've completed the challenge. If you're looking for tips on how to finish NaNoWriMo than you've found the right place. If you're looking for ways to reduce the stress that comes along with NaNoWriMo, than again, folks, you're reading the right article!
Our goal is to help you not only finish NaNoWriMo, but tackle it in a way that doesn't drive you to insanity.
This is all in your hands. I can't make you write. I can't predict your lives and what distractions might come your way, but I know that if you follow the steps I lay out, you'll at least have a fighting chance.

So here we go!

There are two things that you can do before November to prepare for your month of madness. If you are serious about NaNoWriMo, these two things will make life so much easier.You don't want any surprises, and want minimal distractions.

Some people write by the seat of their pants, meaning, they just go for it blindly with no plan whatsoever and it totally works for them. I am not that person. I have to have a plan for everything, and let me tell you what, it makes the writing process a lot easier if you have a map to guide you throughout the story.

I tend to write detailed outlines. I have every chapter detailed with ideas and dialogue I want each character to say. It's like an informal rough draft of the chapter. They're quick to write. You can go back in and easily insert an idea you have later. It's easy to move ideas around. I like to call this the Puzzle Method. I know what the big picture of the story is. I know what the outcome is. I have bits and pieces that I know I want in the story. I just don't know WHERE they go. So I scatter all my ideas onto a piece of paper, and go from there. I organize it into something that makes chronological sense, and then add from there. It results in detailed outlined chapters, and by the time it comes to actually write the chapter, it writes itself. I just need to put it into polished, easy flowing paragraphs.

All outlines don't have to be like this. You can simply say, "I want the end to be this, the middle this, and we're starting here." There, that's a one sentence outline. The point is, outlines can be all shapes and sizes with as much or as little details as you want. What's important about an outline, is that you get your idea onto paper. You don't forget your ideas. You have an image of where you want to go. It's a guideline that you can change whenever you want, but at least it's a place to start.

My first year of NaNoWriMo I didn't tell my mom what I was doing. I'm a private person. I was just writing. I operated on a "Need to Know" basis, and mom didn't need to know. Big mistake. If you are doing NaNoWriMo, tell your family and friends and co-workers. Tell everyone! 

At night I wanted to write. I didn't have to do school, and it was my time, you know? But I was homeschooled, and I didn't have homework. My family was used to me being with them at night. My mom was like, "Why are you holed up in your room all the time? Why don't you spend time with us anymore? Come eat dinner! Come put your clothes away! Come spend time with us! We're watching that movie you wanted to see for forever if you don't come downstairs we're starting it without you!" I got so frustrated. I would be in the middle of writing an awesome scene and mom would yell at me to do something. When I got back to my paragraph, I'd lost my train of thought.

If you want to succeed at NaNoWriMo, make sure you minimize the distraction of people trying to get your attention. When I told my mom I was part of a writing competition, she left me alone. She made sure my siblings didn't bother me. It was bliss, and I had all the time to write a story without worrying about responsibilities or offending other people.

Imagine you're on a road trip. You got your map. You got people supporting you, or at least staying out of your way. Now it's time for the actual journey. An important thing to keep in mind about road trips- cars require fuel and maintenance. So do writers. 

If you are feeling overwhelmed, STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING! Don't know what to write? STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING. Do not force your words. Writing should be fun. If you have come to a fork in the road, and you don't know where to go or what to write, step away from the story. Go for a walk. Listen to music. Do your laundry. Watch some Netflix. Eat some food. Stand in the sunshine. Stimulate your brain. Fill your stomach. Take your mind off the story for at least 20 minutes. Just do an every day task and you'll get ideas flowing in no time. You'll get inspired, or struck by an idea in no time. 

Remember, you're on a journey. You aren't trying to get from point A to B in as few days as possible. You have to remember to stop and smell the roses and enjoy this crazy trip. I got an entire novel idea while I was in the shower. I was singing a One Direction song, Niall's part, over and over again until my sister yelled at me to shut up. Bam. I was struck with an idea and produced a novel. This was one of my greatest ideas. I spent years with the characters in that story, and I stumbled upon it while singing in the shower. 

Every now and then, step away from the computer and do an every day task. Get away from the writing.

Outlines, emotional support, netflix... these things do reduce stress. But the biggest stressor during this challenge is yourself. At some point in the game, you will turn on yourself. You start thinking your work is crap. None of your story makes sense. Your book won't get published. And you know what? You're right. 

This story WON'T get published. It probably is crap. But guess what, you're getting something done and that's all that matters. Nobody's first draft is perfect. Breathe, remember that this story is for your eyes only. It'll never see the light of day. NaNoWriMo is about getting your story out of your head and onto paper. The rest of the year is about polishing the story into something that will one day be a number 1 best seller. You aren't supposed to write the next Harry Potter. You're just supposed to write 50,000 words, and they don't even have to be great words. At the end of the month, you can be proud that you completed this challenge. 

Now grab your pens, paper, laptops and band together with some friends... It's NaNo Season. And we're ready for it. 

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