I’ve participated in (and won) NaNoWriMo four times. In fact, I’m working on self-publishing one of those novels right now. The past two NaNos, I’ve been working a full-time teaching job while trying to complete the challenge. It is stressful and crazy and hard, but it’s also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. Below the cut is my advice to anyone wanting to be a NaNoWriMo superstar while working a full-time job.
- Make a plan. Okay, I’m definitely a planner. I have a lot of respect for pantsers, but in my experience, it’s been nice having a plan to get me through November. It keeps me on track, and it gives me something to look forward to on my bad, stressful, terrible days.
- Make an account at http://nanowrimo.org. I promise I’m not a shill for them. I just love their site. They have graphs and word count meters that help you keep track of how close you are to your goal. Looking at that, seeing how quickly you’re climbing to 50,000 words, can be a real motivator when you need it. Plus, the boards there have always been SUPER helpful and fun.
- Try writing in the mornings before work. This one is really hard, especially for someone who has to wake up at 5:45 am to get to work. But even a few hundred words can go a long way. It’s less to write when you get home and you’re tired, and sometimes it’s enough to make you excited all day to get home and write.
- Have lots of inspiration around you. Sometimes, you’re going to have bad days, days where the words don’t come or you hate all the words that do. These are the days I turn to my premade playlists, at the posters or special desktop picture I made, at the funko pops around my computer that remind me of my characters. It’s something little, but it helps me when I’m struggling to get through.
- Write more on your off-days. There are going to be days when work kicks your butt, where you want nothing more than to turn on Netflix until you fall asleep. And some days, you need that for your sanity. Make that up by writing a little extra on your days off. Prepare for what is to come.
- Keep your chin up. Some days are going to feel exciting and magical. Other days are going to make you feel sick, make you feel like you’re an awful writer, make you want to pull your hair out. There might be days where you don’t make your daily goal, and days where you surpass it by 1,000 words. It’s okay. Roll with it. Don’t beat yourself up. You are making something new. Embrace it. Not many people would even start this kind of endeavor. You’re one of the few.