It's that time of year again; #NaNoWriMo2019 is around the corner, and writers everywhere are preparing to commit themselves to a month of late nights and brain dumps! I know how nerve-wracking this writing tradition can be for some; imposter syndrome and anxiety often run rampant. This nervousness is totally normal, and if you're already experiencing NaNoWriMo jitters, I completely understand!
I'm here to tell you, though, that you have absolutely nothing to be afraid of! The mere fact that you've decided to participate in NaNoWriMo means you have a story you believe in, and that's enough. While your goal may be to "win" NaNo, there's more to it than that. Participating in NaNoWriMo will show you what kind of writer you are; it will unveil the reservations, fears, and doubts you have about your writing, and it will force you to push all of that to the side to achieve your goal. It's a true test of persistence and consistency.
With that being said, staying passionate about your project for the entire month can seem impossible. Lucky for you, I've come up with 8 tips you can use to keep yourself on track and motivated to come out of NaNoWriMo unscathed and with a solid draft!
1. Believe in yourself.
The secret to making anything happen is believing in yourself and your abilities. There's a reason you've been drawn to participate in NaNo this year. Whether you are a seasoned participant or this is your first year, something drew you to this community. Trust it! There is something to be gained from this experience, and you must be your #1 supporter if you want to make it happen!
2. Keep a positive mindset.
What has ever been gained from being pessimistic and negative? Nothing! To stay motivated throughout the entire month, you must remain positive, even if things don't always go your way. There's no telling what November may hold for you, but you can't allow unforeseen circumstances to stop you from moving forward. You have a goal that you must tackle, and you have to do everything in your power to fulfill it. The power lies in your mind.
3. Have a backup plan (and a backup to the backup).
Like I mentioned in the last tip, unforeseen circumstances are sure to show their face at some point during the month. You could have technology issues, writer's block, or family emergencies, but in order to overcome these challenges and achieve your goal, you must have a backup plan. What will you do in the case of writer's block? Will you handwrite your story until your technology issues are resolved? Do you have a plan for the days you absolutely can't write and end up falling behind schedule? Try to think of a few possible outcomes, and plan accordingly. It's better to be over-prepared than not prepared at all.
4. Create a productive environment.
A lot of writers I know can only work in certain environments. For me, my perfect environment must be completely quiet with no outside distractions. It's up to you to determine where you're most creative and productive and then commit to working there every day. It can be a challenge, especially if your preferred environment is outside of the home, but it will definitely help you stay focused and inspired.
5. Take breaks.
Although NaNoWriMo will have you under a strict schedule, it's important for you to rest your mind and take a couple breaks every now and then. The human brain can only think and be productive for so long! To make sure your breaks stay a priority in your writing process, you should block out time in your schedule for them. Take a ten- to fifteen-minute walk around the block, do some self-care activities, like a face mask, or take some time to meditate in a quiet space. Whatever it is, make sure it's relaxing and allows your brain to chill out for a bit.
6. Schedule in time for non-writing fun.
In years' past, I've seen writers become absolutely burnt out from nonstop writing during NaNo season. When they're not working or tending to their family, they're writing to stay on schedule. While that may be necessary some days, it's also important for your sanity to take some time to do non-writing activities. If time allows, play a game with your family, go out to the movies, or participate in another hobby of yours. This time away from your writing project will allow you to rest and recuperate, and it may even spark some new ideas for your story!
7. Don't edit.
The hardest part of writing during NaNoWriMo is trying not to edit while you work. It can be impossible at times to let mistakes or inconsistencies sit on the page without fixing them, but it must be done if you want to finish in time. Editing during the first draft will just slow you down. This is the time for you to get all of your ideas out of your head and onto the page. In the months after NaNo, you can take the time to go through your story and edit out the unnecessary parts or fix any mistakes that jump out at you.
8. Find some support!
NaNoWriMo can be grueling and relentless. It requires a lot from writers, and these sacrifices and struggles can be challenging without the help of a support system. Luckily, there are tons of communities online that meet up just to talk about NaNoWriMo. You can find some of these on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. There's even a space on the NaNoWriMo website where participants can join discussions and participate in writing events throughout the month.
Although the pressures of NaNoWriMo can feel overwhelming at times, you have nothing to fear. This is a fun opportunity for you to grow as a writer and finally tell the story that has been circling in your mind for some time now. Take advantage of all that NaNoWriMo has to offer, and I promise you will not regret it!
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo2019? If so, tell me a bit about your WIP (work in progress) in the comments!