Surviving NaNoWriMo

Me~ By Abigail Owen

Ah, NaNoWriMo! That month when loony writers attempt to complete a 50,000 word novel, beginning to end in just 30 days. What makes this endeavor even crazier is the fact that the Thanksgiving holiday strikes right when you’re in the homestretch.

This is my second year of participating in NaNoWriMo. So clearly I’m a fan of crazy. Last year I came very close to giving up on my goal. We went on a cruise mid-month and then traveled for the holiday. 4 days before the end of the month I still had 100 pages to go. Rather than giving up, I pushed myself to write 25 pages a day for 4 days straight. I did it – I hope to NEVER do that again. I was exhausted with mush for brains. But I did it!

I took away a few big lessons from that experience which have helped me tremendously this year. These are nothing mind-blowing…just turning crazy into something manageable for me.

Lesson 1 – Declare Publically

I work best under the gun. If you do too, try very deliberately and publically declaring that you’re participating in NaNoWriMo. Put it on your website, on Facebook. Announce your progress as you go. Granted, your family, friends, and readers will all be kind if you don’t reach the goal. However, I find being so public about it is added incentive to push yourself to get there.

Lesson 2 – Prepare Your Family & Give Yourself Permission

I find that asking permission from your loved ones is more effective than just warning them. It helps them buy into your goal. In addition I recommend purchasing easy-to-heat or pre-made meals to reduce cooking time. Clean the house top to writingbottom before November starts and then give yourself permission to only do the bare minimum to maintain this month. Give yourself permission to skip the non-required activities this month. Don’t host Thanksgiving. Little things like this help daily life and writing life not compete quite as much for your time.

Lesson 3 – Buddies Are Huge

Last year my buddies were great. This year I have a broader buddy group, including some ladies from my local RWA chapter who created a Facebook group for everyone to keep touch. This has been HUGE. We do things like writing prompts, status checks, and giving encouragement. Don’t go through NaNoWriMo alone. Going through this with others who “get it” is what has kept me going. So whatever you do, get yourself some buddies who you know will help you through and who you’ll be there for too.

Lesson 4 – Front-End Load

This is the hard one. Don’t spread your daily writing goals out evenly over the month. Instead, front-end load your goals. Double or even triple your page (or word) count goals for the first two weeks of the month. This allows you to get way ahead and then take the last two weeks (during the holiday) much easier. It’s only two weeks. You can do anything for two weeks right?

Those were my big takeaways from last year. My buddies keep me going. My house is a wreck but that’s okay. After the first two weeks, I’m tired, but I’m also at a point where, even with our holiday plans, reaching the end is absolutely doable!

Where ever you are in your NaNoWriMo experience – keep moving. I think it’s awesome that you took on this crazy goal, and I know you can reach it!!!

I’d love to hear what tricks work for you? How do you get through this?

Award-winning author, Abigail Owen was born in Greeley, Colorado, and raised in Austin, Texas. She now resides in Northern California with her husband and two adorable children who are the center of her universe.

Abigail grew up consuming books and exploring the world through her writing. A fourth generation graduate of Texas A&M University, she attempted to find a practical career related to her favorite pastime by earning a degree in English Rhetoric (Technical Writing). However, she swiftly discovered that writing without imagination is not nearly as fun as writing with it.

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