Weekly Update – NaNoWriMo Guide to Tricking Yourself

I am participating in a writing challenge called National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo for short. Every November, writers across the world band together online and sometimes in person to write a novel in 30 days. The actual, “hard” goal is 50,000 words, but the reality is that as long as you’re writing every day, you’ve won. Except, if you don’t write 50,000 words, you don’t *technically* win.

As a result of participating in this challenge, I haven’t made as much progress in my other, non-NaNo-y goals. Let’s run down the list:

  • Creative Writing Bullet Journal – I have consulted it a couple of times while writing, but it’s largely untouched since I last worked on it.
  • Monthly Short Stories – Still stalled out at four completed and one in progress. I *did* submit one of the four completed stories into a competition on October 31, so fingers crossed! (I won’t know the results until June 2020, so our fingers may get tired of being crossed by then.)
  • Website & Blog Revamp – Decidedly on hold until 2020 due to Reasons.
  • Day Planner – This is the one project I’ve been working on! First draft was edited. Now I’m hoping to finalize the second draft tonight/tomorrow, and get that looked to editing. I’m also working on production and point of sale options – getting quotes and determining the best way to do all the things. A lot of fun and very exciting, if I do say so myself.

That’s it for project updates. Now back to NaNoWriMo….

A chronic case of The Slumps

I have this very (very) bad problem when it comes to NaNoWriMo. I succeeded the first time I participated. As in, I hit 50K four days before November 30th. That early success tricked me into believing NaNoWriMo is easy.

It is not.

This is my eighth year participating. Of the seven previous years, I’ve succeeded four times. Decent success rate – over half. However, I’ve only succeeded those four times by the skin of my teeth – or should I say, the skin of my fingers? For the last six years, I have forced myself to power through over 10K words in a single day because of… procrastination. And I haven’t succeeded every time.

Here is a collection of nightmare-inducing word count progress graphs to illustrate exactly what I mean by that:

I vowed not to do that to myself this year. Other than one day this month where I literally only wrote seven words, so far I’ve kept myself to my no-slump-November promise. On Thursday morning, I was already sitting pretty at over 32K. That’s actually MORE WORDS than I had on THE 30TH in 2013, 2015, 2016 AND 2017.

How have I managed this year?

Excellent question. I asked myself that just this morning.

The answer: I’ve tricked myself into writing.

Lisa’s NaNoWriMo Guide to Tricking Yourself

#1 Pick the Right Device

First, figure out which device you use the most. Are you always in front of your computer? Is your laptop constantly in your lap? Can you remember the last time you weren’t on your tablet? Your phone? Figure out which device is always in your hand or within arms reach all day. That is the device you want to use for NaNoWriMo. Load your preferred writing program on there and get to work.

Why does it work?

If you’re already holding, looking at, playing on, or using the device, there will be a constant voice nagging you in the back of your head saying: “you could be writing, you should be writing.” Making this voice go away is pure bliss. All you have to do is stop scanning social media, open your writing app and get typing… at least now the words you type will count toward your end goal.

Another reason this works – inspiration and the desire to write strike at all hours. There’s no warning. No rhyme or reason, either. Choosing to write on the device that you literally are never without means you are also literally never without your writing device.

#2 Set Ridiculously Easy Goals (REGs)

Small goals exist to get you started. Satisfy the nagging voice screaming “you should be writing” by writing JUST ONE SINGLE SENTENCE. Get that sentence out. Update your word count. Silence the nagging voice.

Why does it work?

You’d be surprised how hard it is to write just ONE sentence. It’s like poking the underside of a tent after the rain. At first you’ll get a drop or two, then the whole thing will just… pour onto your head. Or the page, I suppose.

#3 Aim for Word Counts in Multiples

Sometimes you need to be tricksy with those R.E.Gs… Once you’ve accomplished one, set another. Apparently, for me, word counts in multiples of 500 are really effective.

Here’s an inner monologue that sort of happened to me the other day…

Note: My inner voice does not actually sound like this. It morphed into this weirdo while I was typing.

Inner Me: Wait… you’re stopping?

Writer Me: Yeah. I did my one sentence and updated my word count. I have accomplished my R.E.G. for the day.

Inner Me: But… dude… you’ve written 390 today. That’s sooooo clooose to 500.

Writer Me: And?

Inner Me: Make it 500.

Writer Me: …

Inner Me: 500! 500! 500!

Writer Me: Fine.

10 minutes later…

Inner Me: Dude.. you can’t stop now.

Writer Me: Why not?

Inner Me: You’ve written 930 words today.

Writer Me: …

Inner Me: That’s SOOO CLOOOOSE to 1,000!

Writer Me: …

Inner Me: 1K! 1K! 1K!

20 minutes later…

Inner Me: Wait wait wait, duuuuuude.

Writer Me: WHAT!? I just finished writing 2,510 words. That’s close to 2,500 words. I am NOT going to go for 3K. That HAS to be enough!

Inner Me: Duuuuude. You’re like, 600 words away from hitting 27K!

Writer Me: What?

Inner Me: 27K! 27K! 27K!

Writer Me: I hate you….

Why does it work?
It just does… don’t question it.

#4 Just Force It

If you’re not as easily tricked by your own brain as I am, my best advice to you is to just force it. Honestly – get it out. NaNoWriMo isn’t about finished books. It’s about exploring stories. It’s about completing a first draft.

“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult

“Every first draft is perfect because all the first draft has to do is exist. It’s perfect in its existence. The only way it could be imperfect would be to NOT exist.” Jane Smiley

“A word after a word after a word is power.” Margaret Atwood

Until next time!