7 ways to do NaNoWriMo - while staying sane and growing your business
National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo happens every November. The first year I heard about the challenge it was nearing the end of the month, and there was no way I was going to make it.
In 2017 (last year), I prepared in the weeks ahead.
The NaNoWriMo challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, working out to 1,667 words each day. And if you think you have no desire to write a novel, your NaNoWriMo challenge doesn’t need to be a novel. It can be 50,000 words of anything - half a book an the rest blog content, or a bunch of email newsletters, or the website copy you’ve been putting off.
I prepared for it, and I did it! And I also did it while growing my business, delighting my clients, and finishing right on time. On November 30, 2017, I completed 50,000 words for my latest book.
And… I haven’t looked at any of them since November 30, 2017.
That’s right; it’s been almost 11 entire months. In a very organized Google Docs folder, there are 30 chapters of a book that remains to see the light of day.
I have to admit; I was a little embarrassed to talk about this at first. I mean Who writes an entire book and then doesn't do anything year?
Instead of feeling bad about myself or feeling like a failure, I’m choosing to look at it as procrastination as a purpose. And hey, it’s not like I’ve been sitting around drinking wine and eating chocolate every day. Er, well, I did that. But I was doing other things. You know, life, kids, writing, growing a business, serving my clients.
For this coming NaNoWriMo, I’m going to edit those 50,000 words. Sure I have 50 new book ideas twirling around in my head. But I like finishing what I started. I’m that person that gets an unreasonable amount of gratitude from finishing a tube of toothpaste. So good.
With NaNoWriMo a few weeks away I’m starting to prepare all the practical things I did last year and will do again this year to help make it feel ridiculously fun.
Because writing can and should feel fun.
1. Finish November content in October.
Last year, I batched all of November’s blog posts during the last week of October. I wrote one blog post each day of the week to cover the five weeks, polished them up and got them ready to go. I still write newsletters as I send them each week because that feels good and there’s something personal about writing an email to my newsletter subscribers and sending it personally that feels good. Same with social media content, I still checked in daily, posted content, and shared how it was going with NaNoWriMo. Getting all your content out of the way will help maintain your focus.
2. Block your calendar
Writing 1,667 shitty first draft words can happen pretty quickly. Sometimes I’d get them all out of my head in 30 minutes. Still, I’d block my calendar for the morning, so I could get my writing and my client work done first
3. Set your writing time
If you just say, “Oh, I’ll find the time to write each day,” you probably won’t. And I don’t want that to happen to you. What worked best for me was writing every single morning, every day of the month before checking email, Facebook, or turning my phone on. Maybe you’ll get up just a little bit earlier each day to do it while the house is quiet. Or maybe your favorite time of day to write will be in the evening, with a glass of wine. Whatever time of day you’re going to write, set it up.
4. Plan it out
A few days before NaNoWriMo, I bought a stack of index cards and scribbled as many topic ideas as I could think of on their own index card. Each day, I’d review the cards and choose one that I felt compelled to write about. As the writing process goes, when you dig in, you might discover you have three topics to write about or even get ideas for a bunch more.
5. Track it (and here’s my free tracking sheet for you!)
I love words, and I also love me a good spreadsheet. I created a simple spreadsheet that I’d use every day. I listed all the book sections and chapters and each day, I’d create a new google doc, link it in the file, and log the word count. In the spreadsheet, there’s also a formula to calculate your total word count. Oh, and you can have it! Just click here, make a copy by clicking, File, Make a copy, and save it to your Google Drive or computer. Enjoy! Oh, and I’m not even going to ask for your email address to give it to you (the marketing gurus hate me.)
6. Set the scene every day
If you write in the morning, set up your writing station for your writing session. Clear the clutter, close all the windows on your computer and just leave open what you’ll need to write. This way, when you crack open your laptop in the morning you’ll have exactly what you need to get started and nothing you don’t. Like the distraction of a full inbox and a list of Facebook notifications.
7. Tell your family
Let your family know what you’re up to and tell them about it in a positive and upbeat way. Let everyone know you’re working on a project that’s important to you and when you’ll be working on it each day. Make sure you keep it fun and light—if you whine and complain about your 50,000 NaNoWriMo challenge, they might be wondering why you’re even doing it. And I’d be wondering the same.
That’s it! Then, enjoy the process. Have fun, let the words flow. Even when they feel like mud, ask yourself, what if it was easy.
And if you want to write 50,000 words along with other business owners and get feedback along the way, I created a super cool little space to do just that. You can learn more and apply here.
If you’re looking for some more simple writing practices to help you do NaNoWriMo this year, you might enjoy these too: