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Getting NaNoWriMo Done: How to Write a Novel in 30 Days

Getting NaNoWriMo Done: How to Write a Novel in 30 Days
    Get comfortable...you're going to be spending a lot of time here.

    With November 1st almost upon us, NaNoWriMo is set to begin. There are plenty of tools to help budding novelists achieve the goal of 50,000 words in 30 days, but what about the reasons behind committing to such a daunting task in the first place? Surely, many of those taking on the challenge have other priorities that they have to deal with – myself included – so adding on the pressure of pushing through those commitments and the occasional bout of writer’s block is going to take herculean effort, right?

    Well, yes…and no.

    Just as there are many people who have yet to give NaNoWriMo a try, there are many who have – and have met the challenge while maintaining a modicum of their regular lives (and sanity) in the process. There are those who have taken on the challenge and have fell by the wayside again, myself included), but there are things you can do to keep you on track to finally typing “The End” at the end of your rapidly-created opus. Here are a few tips to keep your momentum while you’re writing your novel and how to ensure you don’t let the other things in your life slide while doing so.

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    Set Up Rituals While Writing

    As a daily writer already, I’ve put in place rituals that draw me to the keyboard in a way that breeds productivity. Each and every day that I work (Sunday through Thursday), I do the following first thing in the morning before starting my writing:

    1. Wash my face. This wakes me up and provides a fresh start to the day.
    2. Make my Aeropress coffee. Sure, it isn’t as automated as using a pre-set drip coffeemaker, but the coffee is so much better, from a fresh grind of beans to the rich aroma to the exquisite taste. It’s my morning treat.
    3. Make an egg and cheese sandwich. Fried egg, slice of cheese, cracked pepper. All on an English muffin. Simply made, simply eaten. I’ve got my protein to start the day and a few carbs in there to boot.
    4. Walk my daughter to school. Except for Sundays, I’ll load up my son in the stroller and the kids and I head out the door at 8:30 am. The air further wakes me up and it gives me time to connect with them before I sequester myself away for the better part of the day. It also allows for contemplative time on the walk home, which is a great way to get into flow.
    5. Read my RSS Feeds. When I get home, I finish my coffee over some of the best writing on the web. It puts me in the right mindset and gives me time to warm up a bit in the process. Besides, a good writer takes time to read.

    Then I walk to my working area, shut the door, go to my standing desk and start making the clackity-clackity sound.

    Take Breaks

    Even though you’ve got a lot of writing to do, be sure to take plenty of breaks. Vary them up a bit, some short and some long. If you’re in a state of “flow”, then wait until you come out of it and step away from the computer. Go for a walk, grab a snack – whatever. Just get clear by getting clear of the writing space. You’re in this for the long haul, so rest stops are important along the way.

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    Don’t read during these breaks, either. It’ll just serve to draw you back out of your break that much faster. Do something that doesn’t involve consuming anything that has words related to it. Eating is good, exercise is better. Refresh yourself so that you can tackle the novel recharged when your break is done.

    Check In Frequently

    Make sure you keep tabs on what’s going on at the challenge’s website. Revise your word count – even look for locals who might want to do a write-in or simply take a break with you. The NaNoWriMo website has badges for you to put on your personal website (or Facebook if you prefer), offers helpful tips on how to get through the next 30 days and offers a ton of other resources for you to look over. By checking in on the site, you’re actively participating in the entire process of the challenge, not just the writing itself. It’s not just a challenge that you’re involved in, it’s a whole community of people with an aspirations just like yours: to write a novel.

    Keep. On. Writing.

    “Feed a cold, starve a fever.”

    Think of your writing as a cold, keep on going. You’ll get hot and the words will start to flow out of your fingers. Think of editing as a fever. Starve it.

    Do not edit during the 30 days. Don’t even try it. It will steer you away from the actual writing process, which is crucial if you want to get the novel done in the time allowed. NaNoWriMo is about creation, not curation. Save the editing for later…otherwise you won’t have much to edit at all.

    Schedule Time Blocks

    If you have a job that keeps you busy through the better part of the day, be sure to schedule time to work on your novel. The only way you’ll be able to get that novel finished is by scheduling blocks of time that you dedicate solely to working on it. And you need to commit to those blocks.

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    Be realistic about what you can and can’t do when it comes to scheduling your time. You may wind up with some days where you cannot take time out to write, and other days you’ll set aside time crank out more words to make up for those days that you just can’t. Know your limits and write within them.

    Epilogue

    NaNoWriMo is frenetic. It is challenging. It is somewhat unreasonable. But it also a heck of a lot of fun.

    With the right tools in place and the right strategies in place going into November, you’ve got a great shot at getting through NaNoWriMo with a completed novel in your hands.

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    And that’s “The End” that we’re all looking for when we do it.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

    “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

    Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

    You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

    Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

    1. Take a step back and evaluate

    When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

    1. What is the problem?
    2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
    3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
    4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
    5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

    Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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    2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

    If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

    At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

    Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

    3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

    Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

    4. Process your thoughts/emotions

    Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

    1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
    2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
    3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
    4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

    5. Acknowledge your thoughts

    Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

    By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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    Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

    6. Give yourself a break

    If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

    7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

    A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

    Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

    After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

    8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

    As Helen Keller once said,

    “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

    Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

    9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

    In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

    1. What’s the situation?
    2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
    3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
    4. Take action on your next steps!

    After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

    10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

    A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

    Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

    For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

    11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

    No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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    12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

    No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

    13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

    There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

    After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

    Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

    Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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