Tips for newbies

NaNoWriMo can look intimidating for first-timers. Here are some tips for folks who are attempting the challenge. While the article is titled "Tips for newbies", lots of this tips are just as applicable for NaNo veterans.

1. Get to know your fellow Wrimos.

This is by far the best advice I can give you as a participant. You must remember, you are not alone in this crazy endeavor to write a novel in a month. There are people out there who completely understand the plight of being 20,000 words behind, or having to pull several all nighters to catch up; how coffee can induce a high so great you'll be spewing words at a speed even you won't comprehend (or even be able to understand later). These people are there to coax you into adding zombies when the word count is rough; prod you in the right direction when you feel as though all hope is lost. They are the glue that... yeah, we're not gonna go there.

Anyway, really, get to know the people who are participating with you. We are by far the craziest bunch of human beings out there (well, sane enough to know right from wrong at least).

2. Bribes Work.

Can't coax your muse out of its cave? Why not try a bribe? For every thousand words I would give myself a treat. Last year it was Halloween candy, cookies, and movies. This year, it's probably going to be the same. If I made my goals then I took that bath I wanted to take, or I sat down to watch a tv show I was behind on. Maybe I even went out and visited a friend (though, that's pushing it). Time spent away from the computer (although not highly recommended) does help the muse relax just a little and come back with some crazy ideas.

Whatever has you bogged down, it can easily be fixed.

3. Set Realistic Goals.

You don't need to have 10,000 words in the first weekend. You only need to write 1667 words a day to complete 50k in a month. That being said, it is a pretty realistic goal. If you're overachieving (like many Wrimos do), set realistic daily goals you can meet. Don't over-do it or you'll find yourself with the week two blues.

4. Word Wars/Rat Races/MSN Wars/Write-or-Die

These single-handedly contributed to my success last year. If it wasn't for the word wars/rat races/MSN wars I participated in on various sites and Instant Messengers, I would never have completed my goal so quickly. Nothing beats trying to out write your friends and fellow participants.

Granted, these can add to the distractions of the Internet, but they work wonders in quickly upping your word count. If you are behind, try joining a word war or finding people on MSN who are sharing this glorious event to write with.

5. Writing Groups

If you're lucky enough to live in a large city or area that hosts writing events for your region, join them! You'll meet new people, gain new friends, and get a fair amount of writing done. Check the NaNoWriMo forums for a regional lounge near you.

6. Ignore the Editor in You!

Turning off your inner editor is the hardest thing any writer can do. I still struggle with it. In fact, I'm so bad that I deleted a huge chunk of my novel last year simply because I hated it. This is a NaNo no-no! Please don't be like me! Do not delete anything! Highlight it in a different colour so you know where you were going to remove the text, or edit it later. This helps to keep you from losing too many words that are very important in the grand scheme of things.

Remember, there are other people out there struggling to turn off their editor too. And just like you, they'll delete, edit, and rewrite when they should be ignoring all mistakes and just hash through the word count. December's called Editing Month for a reason! Use it then!

7. Back up your work

Every year multiple people lose their work because they didn't back up their only copy. Don't let this happen to you. Back up your work.

8. Have Fun, Don't Stress

Remember why you're doing this. It's fun. Writing is fun! We're here because we want to write a novel, not because we're getting paid to, but because we enjoy it. Don't stress if you're behind in words. Find someone to talk to about it, hash out your plot with friends and family and get back to it. If it's not fun anymore, then make it fun. Add in quirky annoying characters, add in zombies, or kill off your main character. Most of all, when in doubt, keep writing.

9. Defeating the Monsters

Always be sure to know that you are very capable of triumphing over the Self-Doubt Monster, the Blank Page Monster, the Almost-Filled Page Monster, and of course, the Inner Critic Monster. Be like Peach the Panda and know that no matter what those Monsters do, they can't stop you from writing. Ways to stop these Monsters are to just sit down and write. Who cares if it makes sense now? That's what editing is for...after you finish your novel.

See Also