NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is just around the corner. If you’re new to the month of writing madness, it can be far too easy to fall behind before November 1st. My first mistake when I signed up for NaNoWriMo last year was that I had no writing routine. I simply thought “I’ll write whenever I get a chance each day.” That very quickly turned in to a variety of excuses for not writing: didn’t have time, too tired, don’t feel like writing, I spent too much time Netflix Binging on the latest GOTHAM season. Before I knew it a week had gone by and I had less than a page written – every day counts when you have to put 50,000 words down in 30 days.
Here are a few tips for sticking with it and finishing your novel.
CREATE AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR
Now – seriously, go on Amazon and order a big ol’ calendar or check out an online planner such as CoSchedule.com right now! Once you have your calendar ready, set up your deadlines. Give yourself enough cushion to work with in the event something unexpected comes up.
SET UP A DAILY WRITING ROUTINE
Think about a realistic time to set aside for writing. Every writer is different – some are up firing up their laptops in the wee hours of the morning as others are just shutting theirs down for the night. What works for some might not work best for you. Consider the times when your creativity is at its prime. Are you ready to rock it as soon as the sun comes up? Set your alarm, grab your coffee or tea, and get writing. More of a night owl? Plan your writing for the same time every night.
The point is: plan to write the same time every day. Make it a habit.
FIND YOUR BATCAVE
Where is your favorite space to write? Do you have a cabin on the lake? A great quiet corner of the local library? Pick a place where you get your best writing done and fit that in to your writing routine. Make sure it’s a spot you can get to every day to get those words down. When you head off to your writer’s “Batcave,” shut off your distractions: the phone, social media, television. Set a timer and do nothing except write during that time. Be realistic here. If you set aside 20 or 30 minutes each day of solid, focused work you’ll likely be more productive than if you sit there staring at the computer screen for four hours.
GET A WRITING BUDDY
Sometimes we need that friend who will keep you on track. Ask someone to help you stick to your deadlines and get in those daily words. Choose a person who will call you and give you a firm talking to or perhaps threaten to take away your coffee (that’s cruel!) if you aren’t sticking to your routine.
Street Teams are also a great way to gather up a team of buddies who will keep you accountable. Create a Facebook group and add a few people who are interested in your writing project. Keep them up-to-date on your progress – believe me, you’ll get more than a couple messages asking if you’re still writing. After you hang your head shamelessly and type “No, I’ve been lazy.” for the third time, you’ll realize that you need to get back to your routine and stick with it. These people want to read your book – so you’d better finish it!
DON’T STOP THE READING (Yes, I expect you to sing that to the tune of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”)
Reading great books sparks creativity. The more you read, the more your own story will grow. Soak in those descriptive words. Keep a notepad and pen handy to take notes so you don’t forget them later when you are writing your own book. (Just be sure you aren’t plagiarizing – your story should be your words, not something that has already been written. That’s a huge no-no.)
Good luck to anyone who will be joining NaNoWriMo this year. Want to be my writing buddy? You can find me: MelFlicks.
Aside from having a serious reading addiction Melissa Flickinger enjoys writing (mostly poetry), advocating for mental health and women’s issues. She is a coffee addict and loves all things pumpkin.
She is the founder and owner of Melissa Flick’s Author Services, author assistance and book marketing.