Buy now, if you've followed me for very long, you know I'm a bit of a NaNo enthusiast. My first year, it literally saved my sanity. Now, it may very well stretch it, but I digress. NaNo pros and cons can be seen everywhere. quickly, before I post my top ten list, I'd like to give you a reason. If you're a writer, published or not, the only way you'll make it is to develop good writing habits. Every year, by the time NaNo rolls around, my habits have deteriorated to the point of hellacious, despite writing partners, contracts, etc. (Oh, didn't you hear, I have a 15 book contract for War of the Weres. Go me! :D So excited. But *ahem*)
This helps me get back into the rhythm of writing every day or goal per week. *More on that in the top ten* and it keeps me on track! Now some people can get all fancy shmancy and use those word counters. I haven't figured it out yet. Heck, it took me two years to figure out how to use bloggers easy interface traffic counter. I love watching my little green bar rise to tell me I'm hitting a goal. For no other reason, this makes NaNoWriMo a terrific tool for me. Okay, that's enough about me. What about you? Okay, so there will be more about me, but it's to benefit you. Here is my list of top ten things for NaNo, and more importantly, WHY they're in the top ten.
1) Turn off your inner editor. I know. sucks. Make notes. Word commenter system worked wonders for me (one of the things I learned my first year:)
2) Breathe. This may seem obvious, but think of the stress you get under pressure. This is the worst kind of pressure-the pressure to create. An intimate act that you are doing that you hope will eventually be printed by strangers and loved the world over. Or at least by enough people to keep you in ink and pepsi. (Uh, no Pepsi doesn't pay me for product placement. I live on the rez. Some stereotypes hold true.)
3) Find a rhythm. A pattern. Whatever your pattern is. It helps me to twitter/blog and get my brain going. It gives my kids a chance to remember all that, oh yeah mom, I forgot to tell you stuff, and I'm hungry whines, and get it all out of the way. Then, when writing is underway, I can say with total assurance, I took care of this or that. That was my pattern. It helped. You may need to stay off the internet and use it as a reward. You know yourself. If you don't, you have a week to figure it out.
4) Quit freaking out about the word goal. It's not really that high. You may need to push yourself out of that comfort zone you've been in, but just do it. (Nike's not paying me either. Maybe I should apply?)
5) Make your daily word count based on weekdays or in other words, a 5 day week. That does two things. One, you have two days off if you succeed and you can look forward to that. It allows for birthday parties, school functions, what ever you need those two days for. Two, it gives you those days to make up something you missed because you got a flat tire on the way to a write-in (I had three flat tires during my short stay in Texas...they're ALWAYS doing roadwork) or your kids' teacher calls and wanted to know why they thought Duct tape was an awesome disciplinary tool.
6) Prep meals and TREATS ahead of time as much as possible. Freeze cookie dough, muffins, whatever it is that you and your family like, particularly if you or your family have a food allergy/preference (gluten/vegan comes to mind). They will feel less like you've abandoned them. I wasn't prepared my first year (yikes! Still not this year!), so the first week sucked, but I'm a quick learner. I spent one day prepping as many meals as I could for the next week. That included grocery shopping, and portioning out things in preparation. My first year was a real challenge because I had no oven or microwave-stove top only. A gas stove top. I'd never used a gas stove top before. I also had literally, 800/month for rent, power, and food for a family of six. Challenges. I've had them.
7) If you are having problems with the plot, or a chapter, write what you want to happen. I did this and before I knew it, I was writing again to the story. Granted, I had to edit out things later, but it kept my word count going and my stress level stopping. (Can you keep something stopping??? LOL)
8) Let no bad happen. If you can help it. I don't mean in your story. If you are writing horror. Write things as bad as you like. I mean, don't over stress the little things. Further, farther? OMG which is it? My story will suck now cuz I can't remember. Worst, worse? Everyone will think I'm an idiot. Okay, get the picture? QUIT IT. When this is over, I will steal a few wonderful language sites from edittorrent's grammar site and post them here so that you can fix it-LATER.
9) Keep networking. Keep talking to those people who have been your support all this time. It will relieve stress, give you companionship, and keep it all in good fun, which leads to my last rule.
10) Have fun. We're writers. Writing is fun. Yes it's hard work. Yes, it can tear us apart emotionally when things aren't loved by everybody and their dog PB. But over the top, it's fun. Why else would we do it? Half the time we are fighting sterotyping (that's not a REAL job & You're not Published? then you're not a REAL writer) and our families to buy the time we need. Not to mention jobs, illness, life's foibles. Why not have fun?
There you have it! I hope this helps you to a successful, enjoyable NaNoWriMo.