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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.

    Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks What Everyone Is Wrong About Achieving Inbox Zero 4 Simple Steps to Brain Dump for a Smarter Brain Why Is Productivity Important? 10 Reasons to Become More Productive How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

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    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

    Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

    1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

    Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

    There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

    Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

    2. Pace Yourself

    Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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    Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

    Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

    3. You Can’t Please Everyone

    “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

    You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

    Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

    4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

    Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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    We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

    Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

    5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

    “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

    No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

    We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

    6. It’s Not All About You

    You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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    It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

    7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

    No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

    We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

    Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

    8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

    That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

    Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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    Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

    9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

    Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

    The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

    10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

    We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

    When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

    Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

    This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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    Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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