Daily word count is the bedrock of NaNoWriMo. Here are some tips to making sure you meet that count each day.
You’ve asked yourself some basic questions about your story (see what those are here).
You’ve gathered the courage to move forward and created a novel on the website.
Now it’s time for the work.
Getting the words on paper.
The default setting for Nano is 50,000 words in 30 days. Why 50,000? Because that’s the standard of what is considered a novel by the industry. However, Nano is also good to use for those writing a novella or an epic novel. The goal is to write and hit a target with a finished product at the end.
But in keeping with the default, we can see by doing the math, you’re going to need 1,667 words a day. Every. Day.
Yeah, I know.
It can seem daunting, especially if you don’t have eight hours a day, seven days a week to devote to it. In other words, you have a day job and life keeps moving on.
So how does one pull off a feat like this and not lose their minds?
Well, when I find out about the last half of that, I’ll let you know.
Otherwise, here are a few tips to help you get those words in every day. Your mileage will vary on how each one works for you and it may work best to use several of the them together. Or maybe you find a single one that works with your process. Whatever works for you is what’s going to get the story done.
Tip 1: Get up early/stay up late
I’m an early bird, night owl combination. However, when I write, the creative muse tends to be at her best early in the morning. Most of the time, my husband is already up and leaving for work and my teen isn’t anywhere near being awake, so it tends to be great alone time for me. I set my alarm for 4am and have my butt in the chair no later than 4:30 (it takes a minute for the coffee to sink in) to write for about an hour before real life calls and I head to the day job.
Conversely, your muse may need all day to get some ideas for you and tends to visit at night. If you’re a night person, you may find that waiting until after the work day is done, dinner is made, homework is complete, and the rest of the house is in bed, to be your best bet to get in an hour or so.
There is no right or wrong answer here. The goal here is to make a schedule and stick to it to help you get in those words.
Tip 2: Use a timer
You’ve found some time to actually sit and write, but maybe it’s a short amount of time. To help keep you focused on the task, you may find having a timer with a repeating tick-tock handy. For me, I find a time extremely useful. If I know I only have 20 minutes to get those words in, I’m more likely to stay focused and not be distracted from my goal.
Tip 3: Learn “snap-writing”
I didn’t know until recently that this technique actually has a moniker. Snap writing is the art of writing in snatches of time, no matter how long or short they are. The opposite of having a schedule or a routine. Writing whenever, wherever. This technique may not work for everyone, but it is a useful skill to learn if you are already overcommitted before you put a single word to paper.
Tip 4: Dictate
This is another tip that works brilliantly for some, but will leave others flat. And it does have a learning curve. But if this is something you’d like to try, it can be a game changer. I’ve used it myself a few times while stuck in traffic and have made some great gains with it. 1300 words on a long commute home doesn’t suck.
Dictation is something that takes a bit of practice though. You have to “train the dragon” which takes time and patience. Neither of which will be in ample supply in the month of November. But if dictation is something you already use or have used before in any way, I encourage you to try it.
Tip 5: Keep Track of Your Words
This can be a simple notebook with a date and a number of words done for the day or an Excel spreadsheet with formulas in it. Either way, keep up with your progress. This will be especially important if you “snap write” through out the day and only get in a couple of hundred or so at a time.
Keeping track of the progress is also a great visual way for you to see where you are and how far you’ve come.
Tip 6: Turn Off the TV, Phone, Social Media, etc.
Get rid of the distractions! While technology helps us in a number of ways to sell our books and provide research for us during discovery, it’s a double edged sword. It takes no time at all to fall down the rabbit hole known as the internet, or Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social media platform. Time in those rabbit holes are time that you could be writing and getting in those words.
Same goes for Candy Crush or SimCity or that farming game. I speak from experience here.
Tip 7: Get an Accountability Partner
Fitness gurus will tell you that it can be easier to lose weigh or stick to a workout regimen if you have someone keeping you accountable. And if you are helping them as well.
That same philosophy applies here. It helps to have someone that you can check in with or that will check in with you to make sure you are getting those words down each day. And if you’re flagging, they will cheer you on with razor sharp jabs or a gentle shove, whatever it is you need to get back on that horse and keep going until the end of November.
Tip 8: Stop for the day on a “downward slope”
I’ve heard this in a couple of places, one of them being on the Journeyman Writer podcast. The idea is to stop at what would be an unnatural break. For example, stop in the middle of a paragraph or the middle of a scene. This allows for you to pick up where you left off the next day and help keep that momentum going.
Much like a manual transmission car on a downward slope. Pop that brake and you have instant momentum to get started.
Keep in mind, small gains added together equal big gains. So if you can only manage to bang out 250 words at a time but snatch several times through out the day, you’ll be at your word count target before you know it.
The other great thing is that once you pick up the momentum, you can keep rolling. If you can type 250 words in 10 minutes on day 1, you may graduate to higher numbers in the same amount of time.
So keep going. Don’t stop. Stay focused and keep the momentum on an upswing as long as you can.
You can hit the floor on December 1st.
Do you have any tips that have helped you hit your daily target? I’m always looking for new ways to try, so please share!