Here’s a link dump if you’re interested in NaNoWriMo

I’m sitting on this virtual pile of NaNoWriMo-related links and it would be a shame not to share them. Categorized for your convenience. Continue reading “Here’s a link dump if you’re interested in NaNoWriMo”

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A mini pep talk for NaNoWriMo

I’ve always wanted to write a NaNo pep talk, so I took the most captive audience I could find and talked about Thanksgiving weekend in an email to our members participating in NaNoWriMo this year:

If you’re behind: your goal for this week/weekend is to either catch up completely or catch up enough so that you feel confident you’ll make it to 50k by the 30th. Remember: your family will be around for Christmas. It’s totally okay for you to ignore them during Thanksgiving weekend if it means catching up on your word count. (But don’t tell them I said that. If they bug you, play the “Why aren’t you supporting my DREAMS? I thought you LOVED me!” card. It works. Hypothetically.)

Be ambitious. Aim high. Write 5,000 words in a single day–believe me when I tell you how exhilarating it feels. Ever spent a day alone with just you and your laptop, completely immersed in your story’s world? If you have the time, try it. But why stop at 5k? Try for 7k, or 8k, or even the almighty 10,000. Revel in the glory of words. Spew them out. Barf your book if you need to. Disconnect the Internet with SelfControl (if you have a Mac) or a free trial of Freedom (Mac/PC ) and get into the zone, that mystical place where you’re in tune with your story, when your fingers are flying over the keyboard, and it feels like the words are pouring out of your head by themselves. Once you’re there, it’s hard to leave…but when you do, you’ll have a much higher word count and some amazing material that you–yes, you–created. So make as much time as you can for writing when you’re home, because this weekend is your last shot at positioning yourself to finish this crazy awesome endeavor.

Never give up! Never surrender!

Time Management During NaNoWriMo

In NaNoWriMo, utilizing every spare moment of the day is what helps you stay on top of your classes, get enough sleep, and cross the finish line.

…I’m really bad at using my time wisely. Sure, I plan my time down to the half-hour, but I never feel like doing what I’ve scheduled. I end up sitting at my desk arguing with myself over what to do until I’ve wasted an hour (or even two) fighting an arbitrary schedule of my own creation. And even if I remake the schedule, it happens again.

I can’t afford that kind of time loss during NaNoWriMo, so last year I created a productivity system based on a checkbox method that Austin Kleon used to create 250 poems in six months.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Make a to-do list for the week or the weekend. Include your assignments, word-count goal, and anything else you want to get done.
  2. Break up every single item on that list into manageable chunks that preferably take between 30 minutes and an hour to complete.
  3. Draw the boxes onto a sheet of paper, grouped by task.
  4. Fill in a box whenever you complete that portion of the task.

So simple it seems kind of stupid, doesn’t it? But turning your to-do lists into a visual progress bar can radically increase your productivity.

Usually when I have a spare 45 minutes I figure I don’t have enough time to get started on anything, but this system helps me shift my big-picture thinking down to the micro level and I actually get stuff done. Little by little, yes, but a small amount here and there is easier than trying to do it all at once.

NaNoWriMo is approaching!

In exactly twenty-four days November 1st will be upon us, and you (may or may not) know what that means—National Novel Writing Month will be in full swing!

I have a five-year NaNoWriMo winning streak that I don’t dare break, so if anyone is interested in participating this year and needs some sort of motivator/spiritual guide/taskmaster, I can offer you advice and physical force encouragement for catching up on your word count. I’m dragging as many people to the finish line with me as possible this year, including YOU. Yes, you. You can do it. I have faith in you. We can do this together.

And if you want to attend NaNoWriMo meetups/write-ins and meet other participants, make sure to set your region to Los Angeles on the NaNoWriMo website—you’ll then get emails from our Municipal Liaisons about events in the area and have access to the regional forum, where someone will soon start a UCLA thread for arranging on-campus meetups (and I’ll probably be at all of those).

Stay tuned for a blog post about why I do NaNoWriMo! That’s all I’ll be writing about for the next two months, by the way. Just a heads up.