5 Things You Need to Survive NaNoWriMo

It’s day three of NaNo – that’s 5001 words you should have under your belt by midnight tonight. You should be in the first throws of lust for your project still, racing through those words with enthusiasm and love. You haven’t come close to burnout yet – right now, writing 50,000 words is looking easy…

At least, that’s how it usually goes for me. Until about day 10 when I hit a wall and start to question what the hell I was thinking when I had the idea for the story in the first place.

The first few days of NaNo are easy, heady, and exciting. It’s later you start to need some help with the ‘surviving’ part of the equation. So here are five things you’ll need, start planning ahead now!

1. Banked Words

You are bound to have a day when the thought of sitting in front of your computer to type only inspires dread. Or some emergency that eats into your precious writing time. Or a commitment that you can’t get out of. (Not so bad in England, but I understand Americans have Thanksgiving – not going to be doing much writing that weekend.) Whatever it might be, you’re going to need words in the bank, so bank them while you can. Fly high on those first few days and do 2000 words a day if you can. It’s amazing how quickly it builds up, even if you’re only over by 50 words or so a day. If you go over by just over 100 words a day, you’ve earned a day off by mid-November. Probably just in time for when you need it most.

2. Energy

Sleep is best, but in the absence of time for that, energy drinks, coffee, whatever your particular energy source is – you’re going to need it. I’m at a disadvantage because caffeine in large doses makes me feel ill. I have to do the sleeping thing.

3. A Cheerleader

The NaNo community is great – get engaged with them, get involved. And find yourself someone to be your cheerleader. And you be theirs – it’s easier with friends, and accountability. You can’t let them down, right?

4. A Heathy Body…

…A healthy mind. This kind of links in with the energy thing – make sure you eat properly, and try to get some exercise now and then. Especially if you’re tied to your computer and making no progress. Getting out for a walk can clear out the cobwebs and get the cogs turning again. You need to look after yourself if you’re going to finish this marathon.

5. Understanding family/partner

Whoever you are living with, expected to socialise with etc. needs to understand that you’re going to be locked away in your office for the best part of the month. It can be too easy to give up if your friend or partner is nagging you to spend more time with them. Let them know the deal, ask for their support. You’re going to need it when you’re too busy to cook/clean/eat/sleep etc. 50,000 words is a LOT of words, you’re going to need time to write them.

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