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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 December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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