Five NaNoWriMo Tips for when Life Throws You Lemons


Life is incredibly unpredictable, and discovering that fact is a major part of the growing up process. It is really easy to make the decision to dedicate an entire month of our lives to something like NaNoWriMo, but sometimes life doesn’t feel like being obliging. Instead, it will throw you everything it has got in some vain attempt of throwing you off track, and it is even easier to give in to life and put NaNoWriMo off for yet another year.

But, do not give in to life. No matter how chaotic things get, it is possible to fit NaNoWriMo into your busy schedule. You can do it, there are enough hours in the day and you will complete this epic task, even if it (nearly) kills you…okay, I’ll stop with the hyperbole, I promise!

1. Make Time

“There’s not enough time in the day”, has got to be one of my favourite excuses, but it is merely another form of that writer-love – procrastination. There is time in the day, you just have to make it.

No matter how busy life gets, promise yourself that you will schedule in time to work on NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, anywhere between ten minutes and an hour should do fine. You will probably have to alter the amount of time, or even the actual time-of-day to slot in with each different day, but as long as you promise to write, on each day, for a certain amount of time, then you can work around the hectic chaos of life.

2. Don’t be Afraid to miss Daily Word Counts

1,500 words is a heck of a lot of words for most people, especially if you don’t have a lot of free time. But one of the good things about life, is that whilst some days you will have time to do 1,500 words (or more), there will be days when you can barely fit in 500.

You know what? That is okay. There is nothing wrong with only writing 500 words on the days when you only have a spare ten minutes to write, or you just can’t get your writing mojo going.

Having off-days is perfectly normal.

Not making your daily word count does not mean that you have failed. It just means that you will have to work a bit harder on other days, but life may have its busy days, and it also has its quieter days when you’ll find it easier to write.

3. Remain Focused

When you do sit down to write, especially when things are getting stressful around you, the only way to survival is to force yourself to remain focused. Easier said than done, right? Wrong.

Here are a few extra tips that will help to keep you focused:

  • Tell everyone what you will be doing and when. Ask them not to disturb you at a specific time, and make sure that you turn your phone off.
  • Turn your Internet off. Either unplug it, or switch off your wi-fi. The Internet is a breeding ground for procrastination; so don’t allow yourself to give in to the temptation. For this time, the Internet is NOT your friend.
  • Turn up the volume. Put on a good set of sound cancelling head phones and listen to your NaNoWriMo playlist as loud as you can concentrate with. It’s amazing how focused having music blaring directly into your ears – rather than through speakers – can be, and it cancels out any background noise that might put you off, like the sounds of children killing each other….

4. Stress as Motivation

It sounds crazy, but for a lot of people, stress is actually a really good source of motivation. It’s like the world is going crazy around you, everything is coming at you from all directions and somehow, from somewhere, you get this need to work harder in order to meet all of your goals for the day, week, month etc.

However, if the stress feels like it is getting on top of you, don’t be afraid to step back and take some chill-out time.

Allow yourself to figure things out in your head, and then when you’re back in the right frame of mind, get back into it with guts and determination!

5. Just Write

One of the biggest problems a great deal of writers face when it comes to writing pretty much anything, is knowing where to start. The problem, for me at least, is that I feel this need to write with a sense of linearity. This need to write the beginning, the middle and the end in a specific order.

But, who said that you have to write like that?

The Answer? You don’t.

If the beginning flows easily, that’s great, keep going. However, if the beginning is just looking like this huge wall, jump right over it, pick a random scene and get writing.

It really does not matter what order you write in. Do you really think that Directors film movies in the right order? Well, the don’t.

Once the first draft has been written, you can rip all your scribblings apart, and put them back in the right order – a bit like a jigsaw puzzle. Then, your second draft will be like stitching each chunk together.

Also, if you’re struggling with moving a scene along. Leave it – for now – and move onto another one.

The important thing isn’t about the story being perfect – remember that this is only a first draft, it will not be published in its first form – it doesn’t need to fit perfectly together, it just needs to exist.

Imagine that you are creating the bare bones of the story, and your following drafts will be pulling together the muscles, padding it out with organs, and then finalising it with the skin – also known as the book cover!!

Just remember:

Five NaNoWriMo Tips for when Life Throws You Lemons


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