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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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