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Rules for the Road in November

November 1, 2010

I’ll keep it short and sweet today, after all our minds are all elsewhere on the first day of NaNoWriMo. Here are a few tips to weather the road ahead. For those not participating – there are handy hint below which apply to writing at any time.

1. Think Bigger

Set your word limit above 1667 words a day. The official daily target gives you NO buffer zone, it only gets you across the line if you diligently turn up to write that many words every day, and we all know things happen… life gets in the way. Set your daily word count between 2000 and 2500 words and you won’t get caught out at the end.

2. Set Milestones. Celebrate Small Victories

50,000 words can seem like an awful lot of words to find and 30th November too close, especially if you’re a NaNo virgin. Setting smaller milestones will help NaNo appear manageable – every 10,000 words, every 12,500 words – you decide. Not only decide on the word count but the date you want to achieve it by and how you will celebrate these small victories. Small achievements fuel momentum and November is all about forward motion.

3. Write On in Write-Ins

A write-in is a bunch of NaNo writers getting together in person to write. They are fun, they are productive and they’re a great way to meet the writers in your local area. If you are predominantly an online writer it can personalise the experience of NaNo. For someone like me, who is a tad competitive, the writing races and highest word counts are extra incentive to get the words on the page. Last year I did the majority of my writing at the four Brisbane write-ins. To find out more about what’s going on in your area check out the regions section of the website and get on the mailing list for your area.

4. Embrace the Mundane

When we’re pressed for time it is easy to skip out on the things considered mundane or low priority – such as preparing meals, housework etc. It’s actually a false economy of time and creativity. These mundane tasks, are actually potent forms of creative meditation and can actually assist you, as well as ensuring you’re fed, clothed and living a few steps up from squalor.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Delete

Every word counts in November… am I crazy to even mention deletion? Take a deep breathe…please! Sometimes your narrative takes a dead end turn and you of course, don’t realise until you’ve crashed into the wall at the end. Not to worry. Cut and paste the dead end into a new file and save as ‘out takes’ (or something far wittier) The words in this file whilst not part of the ongoing project, are still counted towards your total. There is no point labouring on a narrative when a strategic cut can refuel the momentum.

6. Hydrate

Dehydration impairs mental processing and it happens quicker than you think. Keeping yourself hydrated is one of the best and easiest things you can do to facilitate writing. Unless you absolutely need the caffeine reach for some H2O instead. I’m keeping a bottle close at hand as I attempt to go caffeine free for the entire month.

7. Support Others

You don’t have to believe in the three-fold rule to know the support you offer will be returned to you in kind and abundance. You never know when you might need your own personal cheer squad in the next 30 days. And on the note of support – put your money where your mouth is and provide financial support to The Office of Letters and Light, the not-for-profit organisation that runs NaNo. You can buy merchandise or make a direct donation and enjoy a halo over your name for the month of November.

Good luck! Don’t forget to join us at the Write Anything forum thread for support, advice and lots of silliness.

Image via Alpha Car Hire.

Jodi Cleghorn is still waiting to write her first words for this year, although the first day of November is almost half over in her corner of the world. After two weeks in Malaysia and nine month of editing, all she wants to do is write.You can find more of Jodi’s musings at Writing in Black and WhiteTwitter and at the NaNo website.

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