Tips to Win NaNoWriMo 2020
As turbulent as 2020 has been, it does seem like it has gone flying by. Rather, October was here and gone like a blink, and November is suddenly staring at us in the face.
With November comes colder weather, Thanksgiving, and NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo is a month-long challenge that has writers — new and veteran alike — pen fifty thousand words for a project within thirty days. Technically, the goal is to finish a rough draft of a new project, but plenty of folks are “NaNo Rebels” and either work on existing projects, use the time to edit, or bounce around from project to project instead of sticking to one story. As long as one reaches fifty thousand words, one is considered a winner, able to claim swag and some discounts on decent writing software and programs from NaNoWriMo’s sponsors.
I am also considered a rebel, but it’s usually not on purpose. I will start the challenge with the intent of starting and (maybe) finishing a rough draft throughout the month, but I inevitably add bits and pieces to multiple projects or write short stories. I figure that as long as I’m writing and getting words down, I’m winning, both the contest and metaphorically when it comes to improving my skills as a writer.
Aside from putting one word down after another, I’ve used a couple of tricks throughout the years for reaching my word count goals.
Instrumental and Ambient Music
I am not one who can write to silence. Generally, I have my Spotify playlist on, and the music is instrumental tracks from video games and movies or music in another language for added motivation.
Many folks actually create playlists for their works in progress, something to listen to while crafting their stories. Want a little ambience as background noise rather than movie scores? Check out a few of my favorite sites that may provide what you’re looking for:
- Coffitivity — a basic site and offline app that gives you a couple of options for sounds reminiscent of a cafe during breakfast, lunch, or in a university.
- myNoise — this website offers both soundscapes and instrumental music to help you focus and drown out outside noises that you don’t want to hear. New sounds and songs are added frequently, and all of the sounds are categorized to try to help you narrow down exactly what you need to hear at that moment, whether you’re trying to sleep, need to calm down, or are a writer in need of inspiration.
- Ambient Mixer — be warned that it is simple to get lost exploring and experimenting on this website! With a plethora of options, you can listen to sounds reminiscent of the common rooms at Hogwarts, at locations from Middle Earth, at Disney spots, or even just out in nature. Folks create their own mixes and you are allowed to customize your own to your liking.
I am a gamer, and word crawls seem to be made for someone like me who enjoys combining their passion for video games and writing together.
Word crawls are a delightful way to boost up your word count. They are challenges that collect prompts, word sprints, and word wars into one with the intent to motivate you to keep writing. Generally themed, many word crawls are crafted to follow plots of books, movies, television shows, and other fandoms, as well as different genres or slice-of-life. There are even word crawls dedicated to homework, baking, and doing chores around the house!
The idea of a word crawl is to follow along with the plot of the challenge, doing each word sprint or prompt as you encounter them along the way. By the end of the challenge, you should have reached a good chunk of your overall word count goal. Word crawls add another element of fun to writing, giving you more of an incentive to continue on your story.
While the newer NaNo forums are able to archive word crawls, there is a page on the Wikiwrimo that has an extensive list of word crawls that NaNo writers have created.
NaNoWriMo is big on having writing buddies to go along with you on your journey. While I’m sure this year will be different, there are usually write-ins, where folks from the same region can join up together in coffee shops and libraries to add to their word counts together. Virtual write-ins will probably be the way to go at this time.
I’m lucky in that I have a built-in writing buddy with my sister, but we have met some great friends that have joined our writers' group and D&D sessions through some NaNo write-ins. Having a buddy or two to compare word counts with, to help reward, praise, and gently prod during the month does wonders for your story. There’s nothing like a little competition and someone else to hold you accountable for rising to the challenge!
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