I have never written a guest post before, especially not for Enette here, so I guess I’ll start off by saying hello! I’m Ayli from Ayli’s Offerings, and I’ll be standing in for Enette while she’s lost in the wordcave. She should be back any day now…
But until then, let’s talk about NaNoWriMo!
I am very far from a NaNo veteran, but I’ve taken part in it a couple times now, and I’ve had both successes and failures in this time. What I’ve learned from those failures that made those successes so much easier to achieve is that time management is key and your inner editor is your absolute worst enemy; destroy them at all costs, and then mourn the loss once your first draft is complete and you realize you have no idea how to clean up the mess you’ve made.
Jumping back to that first point: I cannot possibly emphasize enough how important it is to manage your time when attempting NaNoWriMo. Unless you are the most pampered individual of the highest class, I’m willing to bet you’ve got a responsibility or two that you can’t just shuck for a whole month without consequence. Maybe you’re a student, maybe you’ve got a job, maybe you’re a parent or a care-giver of any sort. Regardless of what it is, you’re going to have to learn to work around it, and that can be a pretty complicated task when you keep in mind you have to write 1.6k words a day.
Now, once the event’s started and we’re jumping into things, this can start to feel impossible. However, that is more often than not a result of us over complicating things for ourselves, so let’s simplify this. To start, clear your schedule of everything except what you absolutely have to do, i.e. your responsibilities that can’t be blown off. Once you’ve got that list whittled down, look at the rest of the time you have available. You see that? That blank space right there? Slap some writing time in there. Ignore social media, forget about that new show you’ve been meaning to check out, and just write. Turn off your WiFi and throw your phone out the window; if you’re going to participate, you have to commit. (DISCLAIMER: Neither I nor Enette can be held responsible for any damages received in the act of, and I quote, “throw[ing] your phone out the window.”)
Of course, not all of your time is going to end up devoted to writing, but it’s important to prioritize it. Don’t make any plans that could jeopardize your word count. If you want to get anything done, write first, then use whatever time is left over for recreational purposes. Even though I was joking above, I did mean it when I said you have to commit.
Moving on to that second point I mentioned earlier: Your inner editor will be the death of your word count. Believe me, I know the frustration of writing something absolutely sloppy and horrendous, and feeling as if you can’t continue without setting everything up perfectly. I am literally in the process of rewriting a story of mine for NaNoWriMo; I get it. But you also have to keep in mind this is a first draft. First drafts are never perfect, nor are they meant to be. They’re essentially the equivalent of a rough sketch; they aren’t meant to be a masterpiece, they’re just supposed to convey the basic idea of what you’re going for. So give your inner editor a platter of cookies and a pat on the head, then lock ’em up tight; they’re not doing you any favors right now. If you’re writing this month, write with reckless abandon. Don’t worry about style or the wow factor, just worry about getting the story out of you, and then worry about making it good.
Another method I’ve seen work for a lot of people, just to get them motivated to write (that I’m not gonna lie, I’ve used once or twice), is the rewards system. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: you tell yourself, “Okay, if I write X amount of words I can spend Y amount of time doing [insert something you’d likely rather be doing],” and then you hold yourself to it. It’s important, though, to keep the value of Y relatively small; too much pampering can damage your work flow, and I find this system is much more effective if you place small rewards in between every 500 or so words, rather than just placing some large prize at the end of the full 1,667 foot long word-tunnel.
The last bit of advice I’m going to offer you before I inevitably end up rambling is to keep yourself inspired. I know, a lot easier said than done, but when I decide to lose myself in my work, I try to surround myself with things that put me in the mood to create. My recreation involves reading books and stories that, when I put them down, make me want to work on my own worlds and characters. My recreation involves watching movies, shows, and even playthroughs of video games that give me that same sense of wonder or attachment that I want my own stories to give people, and it gets me excited. My recreation even involves things like sketching and listening to music because they’re capable of putting me into that state of mind where all I want is to zone out and just make something, and that’s very important to the process. Keeping yourself in a state of euphoria can greatly lighten the work load and make it feel less like you’re forcing the words and more like you’re just expressing yourself.
But I’ll leave that topic there, which means this is all for me for now! If you’re currently behind on your word count, try not to sweat it. The month is still young; you’ve got more than enough time to catch up. And even if you don’t make it, it’s not worth crying about it. Just think, you wrote something this month, and that’s more than some people have done. You made actual progress, and that is awesome! Keep at it, you. Only great things can come of this.
How’s NaNoWriMo currently going for you guys out there? What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to face so far? Locking away my inner editor is definitely my greatest struggle, so what’s yours? The comment section exists for a reason, and I’m sure both Enette and I would love to know.
Until the conversation continues,
(I know Enette doesn’t sign off her posts, but it makes me greatly uncomfortable not doing that now, so I’m going to do it anyway. Peace!)