We here at the How to Write Academy are so super excited to be running a nanowrimo bootcamp this November (join us in our exclusive, free Facebook group and get motivation all month long). However, unlike the usual nano goal of writing 50,000 words in one month, we are simply aiming to help you be your productive best and meet your individual writing goals, no matter what they might be. If you're desperate to get 10,000 words down in November, join us. If you want to get a book edited, then let us help you carve out that work time and stay focussed. In short, there is no right or wrong way in our group, so come and be a part of this supportive gang.
Every day of November counts towards helping you achieve your goals but the next seven days (in October!) are arguably the most important because this week is all about the prep - and good prep can make all the difference to your nano success.
So, let's talk about some ways to really hit the ground running this November 1st:
Sign up to our Facebook group and download the free workbook that has great practical tips and a cute little 'am writing, do not disturb' sign for your office/bedroom door (or car, kitchen pantry, ie, wherever you can make space to work!). Accountability is a great technique for supercharging your productivity. Just by having some writing peers to check in with, you're bound to feel that little extra nudge. This especially comes into play towards the tail of the month when writer fatigue might be setting in.
Think about what you want to achieve this month. Be realistic but also, try to set a goal that is going to require you to push yourself a little harder. The aim of nano is to really accomplish something you're super proud of. You can share your goal in the Facebook group, or just write it on a post it note and stick it above your computer. Whatever helps keep you motivated.
Have a look at your November calendar (you can print one here). Cross out any days in which you can't work-and don't feel bad about it! While we want you to kick some serious goal-setting butt this November, we also know that life can get in the way sometimes. Getting a clear picture of your month at the start of Nano means you won't become stressed out if you're not able to get to your desk when you want to. Now, work out how many days you have left and divide your goal by that total number of days (build in rest days here too if you think you'll need them). For example, if you are aiming to write 30,000 words and you have 20 days available in November, you're going to want to write 1,500 words a day. For Nano, it becomes extra important to track our progress and push ourselves. If you don't hit 1,500 words one day, you can make it up by adding an extra few hundred words to the next two days, and so on.
We all have our most productive times of days and techniques for writing (and this can change from time to time- everything's a season!). For me, at the moment, I'm most productive first thing in the morning, however I will write whenever I can. But the best time for my brain to dive into a story without too many layers of life and 'other stuff' cluttering my creative thought process is as soon as I wake up. I also know I can't go on social media or read the news sites before writing, because it will start to drag my brain away from my characters. You might be most productive in the evening, or the middle of the day.
Of course, it may be that your life's schedule requires you to be productive at a specific time, for example, during your lunch break, or on the commute to work, or while waiting for a child to finish soccer training, etc. If you have to produce words/work at set times, reflect on how you've made those times work best for you in the past. Come up with some ways to supercharge the time you have.
One great piece of advice I received early on is that you should arrive at your computer ready to write. You don't want to sit at the keyboard in your small work window and find that you're stuck on a plot point. As much as possible, get into the habit of thinking through what will happen next in your story while you're doing something else, such as cooking dinner, going for a walk, having a shower. That way, you can make all the keyboard minutes count.
Okay, not quite. But think of your real world people (family, friends) as your own team of superheroes. These are the ones who want to see you succeed almost as much as you do, so enlist their help to stay on track. Tell them what you're working on, and what your goals are. It's much harder to give up if you have real world people pestering you about your progress!
There are some small things you can do each time you sit down to write that will make a big difference. Organise some snacks, tea, coffee, water (whatever you like to work with) and have it to hand, so there's no need to get up and fossick for treats as you write. For snacks, choose easy finger foods, so you can keep writing as you munch.
Reflect on your best writing practices. Be intentional about your environment. Do you like music? Candles? Get these organised.
Take ten minutes at the start of your writing sessions each day to clear your desk of distractions. By that, I mean any tasks that are going to haunt you as you write (Whoops! I forgot to pay the energy bill, I'll just quickly do that..and while I've opened this internet browser, I'll check my email, and then my Facebook, and ooh, look, a new Pinterest board I've been added to, and, and, thirty minutes later, now where was I in my manuscript?). It's way better to manage these things before you start writing. And if you are writing and something occurs to you, put it on a post it note and keep working. It will wait another thirty minutes! Getting into the flow is vital, and you can't do that if you keep clicking out.
And on this note, switch your devices to flight mode! If a loved one is dependant on being able to contact you, look at ways you can make your phone 'do not disturb' with the exception of that person. You want to avoid the call of the internet at all costs. Need to research something while you're writing? Put a note in the manuscript, keep writing, and research it once you're done for the session.
Whether you're a plotter, pantster or charting some awesomely chaotic middle ground (that's me!), Nano is one of those times where you want to have a pretty clear grip on your project. The free downloadable workbook in the How to Write Academy Facebook group is an excellent starting point to clarify your goals, but you can go as far as you want. Outline your characters, conflict, goals, black moments, tension point, beats, whatever will help you feel totally prepared for the month ahead.
And now? All that's left is to join the Facebook group and get salivating at the exciting month we all have ahead. We can't wait to share the journey with you.
Love, the How to Write Academy Team xx
We've been working on some wonderfully exciting things here at the How to Write Academy. Our foundation HOW TO WRITE LOVE course will be available in February 2024, so if you're looking to start the year with an absolute bang, sign up today! And speaking of exciting, for the first time ever, in 2024, the How to Write Academy will be offering a Self-Publishing course that will give you the confidence to publish your book. From cover design to branding, to marketing, to actually loading the thing onto the various websites, this is a comprehensive course and we are thrilled to be close to sharing it with you!