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7 Ways to Succeed at NaNoWriMo

7 Ways to Succeed at NaNoWriMo

So, you decided to take the plunge and commit to writing 50,000 words during the month of November. That’s awesome!

But now you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. 50,000 is a lot of words. Certainly a lot more words than you’ve ever written before.

But isn’t that why you signed up for NaNoWriMo in the first place? To challenge yourself to really sit down and write that story you’ve been meaning to write for years?

You have the story idea. Here are some things you can do to help yourself succeed:

1. Put it in your daily schedule

If you want to reach your word count goal, you’re going to have to write a little bit every single day. The math works out to about 1,667 words per day, and you need to make the time to actually sit down and work on your project.

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But that can get tricky, especially if you have a holiday in the middle of the month.

The solution? When you sit down to make your schedule, plan time to write. Maybe you have to get up half an hour earlier and stay up half an hour later to fit in time to write. It doesn’t matter where you fit it in as long as it’s in your schedule and on your to do list.

A lot of times we push writing out of the way in favor of more “productive” tasks. But if you know that you’re going to write between the hours of nine and ten each night or between five and six in the morning — it’s going to get done.

2. Turn off your internal editor

I know when I write, I’m constantly going back to change mistakes that I’ve made. Usually this is a good thing — papers for school or articles for work can’t have mistakes in them. But when I’m doing creative writing, that internal editor can be a big problem.

I don’t really need to stop in the middle of an important scene in a story to grab the Chicago Manual of Style to look up exactly how to use a comma, or which kind of dash I need to include. I also don’t really need to worry about grammar or spelling, because at this point it’s more important to get the ideas down onto the page (or into the computer) than it is to have perfectly written prose.

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Turning off your editor is even more important for NaNoWriMo, when you’re trying to write a particular number of words each day in the hopes that they’ll add up to a whole novel by the end of the month. The editor slows you down.

You can turn the editor back on — on December 1. Or on January 1 as part of your new year’s resolution to get your book into shape for publishing. But for November, ignore that editor and really focus on getting your ideas out there onto the page.

3. Find your most efficient spot

I prefer to do creative writing by hand. There’s just something about a clean notebook or loose leaf paper and a fresh new pen. I love the feeling of the ink flowing across the page as the ideas flow out of my mind.

You might work best on a desktop, sitting up in your office. You might work best outside with your laptop, breathing in the crisp fall air.

The where or how don’t really matter. All that matters is that you figure out where you’re the most productive, and then go there every day to write. If you don’t already know where you work the best, take some time between now and the beginning of November to figure it out.

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This knowledge will do you good long beyond the end of NaNoWriMo. Trust me.

4. Don’t make excuses

If you decide to get up earlier every day in November so you have time to write, after a day or two you probably won’t want to anymore. You’re too tired or you think you’ll do it later, maybe on your lunch break.

Don’t give in! These excuses can quickly catch up to you and will cause you to fall behind on your goal. Drag yourself out of bed. You’ll be so happy you did once you see that word count tick over the 50,000 mark.

5. Prepare ahead of time

Some people work better with outlines and some people work better flying by the seat of their pants. Both tactics are equally valid.

Prepare by figuring out which of these people you are. If you’re going to be more successful with an outline, sit down and write it before November 1 hits. This way you’ll be prepared once it’s time to start writing.

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If you’re not going to use an outline, spend the time between now and November thinking about what you’re going to write, where it will fit into your schedule and where you’re going to sit down and get to work.

Don’t wait until November 1 to do these things. Procrastination isn’t going to help you here.

6. Stay on track

Similar to not giving yourself excuses, don’t let yourself fall behind schedule either. If you know that you have more time to write on the weekends and weekdays will be busy for you, plan that out. Write 500 words every weekday and then write 5,000 on each weekend.

It’s okay to write like that. It’s only going to be a problem if you do that by accident — because then those 10,000 weekend words become an emergency, not a plan, and that quickly becomes overwhelming.

Staying on track keeps November stress-free and fun…which is what NaNoWriMo is all about.

7. Just sign up

You can’t win if you don’t start! Just sign up for NaNoWriMo and get writing.

Featured photo credit: Tony Hall via flic.kr

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Kathryn Harper

Media Relations Manager

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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