Tips to Help Survive NaNoWriMo

To all of our writers, it is that time of year, so we have to ask. How is NaNo going? Are you hitting your goals? Or scrambling to catch up? Maybe you are somewhere in between and planning a big sprint this weekend? Or is it already feeling hard to hit your daily goals?

NaNo month, even as just a reader, is one of my favorite times because when I finish whatever book I’m reading I know that somewhere out there… someone—possibly you!—is writing a book that will sweep me away that I can add to my Favorites List.

But what can you do when the initial gale of inspiration fizzles from the daily grind? There are a few options!

(1)Take A Break:

I know it may seem counterproductive to meet your goals by not working, but before you dismiss the idea…

If I’m going to be working for a while at my desk, I’ll end up with that moment (moments really) where I’m wanting to work, and needing to, but nothing is happening. Then, before I know it, I’ve been staring at a blinking cursor for a minute or two, maybe even five.

That would be the moment I know I need to step away from whatever project I’m working on to give my brain and body some space. Yes, your body needs space too! Move around to get your blood flowing again. Jog in place, or just stretch and wiggle all the stiffness out. (Improved blood flow means your brain is working better!) I also like to leave my tumbler (cup) in the kitchen, so I have no option but to move around. Same with snacks!

Need something with a bit more structure? Did you know you can actually improve your writing word count with timed sprints? Write for 15 minutes, take a 15 minute break… and so on for your writing time. Some writers have delved even deeper into this science to find their own personal Sprint times and Ideal Writing Time during the day.

(2)Set Smaller Goals:

But I have to get to 50k, or 30k, or 90k… That IS the goal. But, those are End Goals. If you feel overwhelmed and stressed out when you think about how many words you have left to write… or if you can tell me the exact word count you HAVE to have daily now to meet your goal because you took a few days off…

Breathe. (That’s important for your health too! )

This tip simply means reward yourself for small goals. Don’t only pat yourself on the back for reaching The End at your chosen word count. If it was your best today to write 50 words, celebrate it. If you set goals to write 500 words in one hour, reward yourself! If I get my required hour of work done (sometimes I work in 30-minute intervals for more mentally taxing projects) I reward myself with half that time to either watch an episode of a comfort sitcom, or leisure-read

(3)Give your File an Unprofessional Name:

Yep, that’s actually writing advice. And it’s for… the Perfectionists. Or, just so you don’t have to stare at “WIP” all the time. NaNo is a challenge simply to get your words written, you do not have to come out of NaNo with a ready to publish novel. So shake that stress off and have fun with your titles! I know many authors who don’t even finish a novel during NaNo, they just designate that time to get a sizable chunk of their manuscript written because they adore the community.

If you already have an amazing title picked out and are having trouble getting the words on the page: There can be a ‘too’ official feeling that comes with it that can psych your brain into thinking you must bleed perfection alone onto the paper. Not so! Whip out your throwaway titles.

Terrible First Draft, Fertilizer (Draft), Version 0

If the title you put so much thought about is keeping your fingers stiff—give it its own file in a pretty font and get back to writing! Dead Draft Walking, Dawn of the Draft, Happy Ever Drafter?


Music, anyone? It’s one of my favorite ways to find a moment of peace when I am ready to gather my fellowship to cast Baby Shark back into the place from whence it came. And, music can be a good way to hone in your focus. (Someone literally designed video Game Soundtracks to keep your attention. I’ll share my favorite below!)

The right song can just change your day. And, it can help you set your writing mood too!

Pre-Made Options:

Dark Classical Music:

Dark Fantasy Music: 

And I did promise you one of my favorite things to listen to when I need to focus!

The Elder Scrolls V Original Soundtrack:

Youtube has some great ambiance resources as well! From epic fantasy battle music, to cozy library vibes, all you need to do is search ‘writing ambiance’ and many wonderful youtubers have done the work for you. 😉 That way you aren’t so distracted by finding songs that you forget to write.

A ‘Quick’ Playlist of a few Ambiance videos. (There are over 24 hours on this playlist alone!)

(5) Reach out!

You are not alone in your endeavors. While some people may enjoy being alone, even introverts need a level of social interaction. If you are introverted, find someone non-taxing to reach out to so that you aren’t so alone with all of your regular writer struggles while you take on the amazing challenge that is NaNo! If you are a socializer, enjoy how close technology can bring you. Create your own NaNo Team chat on Facebook or Discord so you’ve got a small group of fellow writers to speak with regularly so you don’t go crazy with yourself in a room alone.

Wherever you are in your goals, I need you to stop and read what I have to say next… It doesn’t matter what genre… whether you are writing slasher horror, literary pieces, fantasy, or something else…

Your story came to you for a reason. Maybe you wanted to scare someone, give them a feel-good escape, or craft a world with the depths of Tolkien, or become the next Mary Shelley. Maybe you just simply wanted to entertain someone for a while. Your creative voice, your ideas, and your dreams are worth it. They are worth being told. And YOU are worth telling them.

What happens if you did all that, and you can just feel in your gut that you don’t have the material to reach that 50k and up goal? We firmly believe that ideas should be expressed at their natural length. So our advice is NOT to force it. There are still readers that want your non-novel length fiction – which includes TDS! If you write gothic, horror, fantasy, or psychological realism in the vein of Poe, Shelley, Tolkien, or Dostoevsky: submit 3 chapters of your novel or full novella to TDS Submissions.

How are you doing with NaNoWriMo? Are you meeting your goals?
Let us know in the comments below!

TDS proudly brings you gothic, horror, fantasy, and psychological realism
from talented creatives. You can order past and current issues
from the TDS Store.

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