Friday, October 28, 2011

Tips on Scaling the NaNo-Mountain

Source.  Copyright Nintendo

Since NaNoWriMo is around the corner (that’s four days if you’re counting), I thought I’d do a vaguely NaNo-themed post today.

I think one of the biggest problems (and functions) of NaNoWriMo is the consistency at which you are forced to write.  That’s 1667 words a day.  If you take into consideration that Stephen King reportedly writes 2000 words a day, you’ll note that it’s quite a lot.

So, how do you keep up such a consistency?  Here are some pointers I’ve picked up in the past:

1)  Begin writing.  In Stephen King’s words, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”  Just force yourself to write that first sentence or two, and the rest will come easier.

2)  Learn how to write in short bursts.  This is especially applicable to people with long hours at work, holiday preparations to make, and a family that needs a lot of attention.  Teach yourself that you don’t need two hours free time to write.  You can squeeze in a paragraph in the ten minutes the spaghetti takes to cook.  (In fact, this works wonders either way, since you’ll probably stop in the middle of a thought, making starting off again much easier.)

3)  Set smaller goals.  Use a trick they use for running.  To run a long distance, set up a series of short distances.  When you run, aim for your target (that can be anything from one metre to twenty kilometres away, depending on your fitness level), telling yourself “Okay, I’ll just run up to that point” and then when you get there, move on to the next point, making the entire distance that way.  It sounds crazy, but it works.  When writing, set smaller goals like 500 words.  It’s a lot easier to achieve.  It will not only motivate you more (by finishing of goals), but it will be easier to start if you don’t have such a mountain ahead of you.  (“Just 200 words more…”)

4)  Tell a lot of people about your effort.  You ego will help you here.  By telling people that you’re going to write 1667 words a day, you set up an expectation.  If you don’t finish because you were playing solitaire, you’re going to feel mighty stupid when someone asks how far you are.

That’s all from me.  Check out this post by Mood if you’ve always wanted to do an outline but it never seemed to work.  (Though it’s probably a bit late to start an outline now.)

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