Arriving in NaNoLand

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One of my friends (The Chindividual) just send me this picture on Facebook. The reason? We`re both participating in this year`s NaNoWriMo.

For those who don`t know yet: NaNoWriMo is an annual writing challenge, in which you are challenged to write a novel of 50.000 words in 30 days. Insane? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. Fun? DEFINITELY.

Those 30 days, in case you were wondering, start tomorrow. Which means it`s time for some frantic last-minute prepping, and for panic to kick in.

Last year was the first time I ever participated in this insane writing challenge. And I made it! So since I am totally a veteran now, I thought I`d share some tips and ideas with you guys.

FIRST TIP: snacks. All the snacks. Everywhere. Keep snacks (which includes fruit) within armlength`s reach at all times. I am one of those writers who is apparently incapable of writing (or doing anything that requires my brain to work overtime) without a constant supply of food nearby. Last year I did a lot of writing on children`s flavoured yoghurt and rice waffles. This year I`m not sure yet, but there will probably be rice waffles again. And cough drops. Vicks has really nice lemon/menthol cough drops that I`m capable of eating like it`s regular candy.

I`ve heard people say popcorn is a really good choice as well. It`s easy, you can get it in big portions, and it`s actually quite healthy, too.
Which brings me to the health point: your writing juices will flow better when your brain is properly fuelled, so get some nuts (walnuts, cashews, pretty much anything but peanuts) and fruit as well. Chocolate, especially the very dark type, is also good for concentration and for keeping you awake. Don`t live off of candy and other bad things, tempting as it may be. Your body and brain will not be thankful. Neither will your mood. So mix it up!

SECONDLY: stay hydrated. Dehydration is the worst. Especially now the temperatures are dropping (at least on this hemisphere, sorry Australians) and the heater is on more often, it`s more easy to get dehydrated. So to ensure you don`t have to get up all the time, try to keep a bottle or a flask nearby with water, tea, or whatever your poison of choice is. I would recommend steering clear of too much fizzy drinks, as the sugar may help you stay awake, but it can also destroy your focus. And we wouldn`t want that.

THIRD: oh wow, you guys are still here? Good. My third bit of advice, is to keep track of your progress. Yes, you can keep track on the NaNo website, that will result in pretty graphs made all automatically for you. I love it. I really do. But for extra motivation, keep track of your own progress. Preferably on a piece of paper right at the place where you write. Wordcount, progress, doesn`t matter, whatever you want to keep track of. But the extra reminder that`s physically there, instead of a website you have to open, really helps with motivation. I pre-prepared one this year with the picture above on it. What I also added to my list is point nr. 4:

FOURTH-LY: if you`re the type who can work just for the sake of working, awesome! Go you! If you`re like me though, you might need a little bit more incentive to keep going. That`s why I added perks. Make it to 25.000 words? Halfway point! Time for a night off with some wine and cake and a good movie! Made it to 30.000 words (in 15 days, to create some padding)? Buy a new book! Made it to the finish line on time? Congratulations! Aside from the awesome realisation you just wrote 50.000 words in 30 days while having a life next to it, treat yourself to something really nice. My finish-perk this year is the artbook for Rise of the Guardians. It`s a bit of a theme with me, to have Rise of the Guardians/Guardians of Childhood related perks for NaNoWriMo (I bought the first book, Nicholas st. North, for last year`s NaNo). So treat yourself to something nice, you just did an insane amount of work and while fun, it`s also very tiring.

FIFTHLY (are these even proper words?): don`t worry about proper wording. Just write. Keep writing. Join in on some wordsprints, challenge your friends to see who can write the most in say, 10 minutes. Just write. Fix your novel later (or don`t), but for now focus on getting those words out.

FINALLY: remember to relax. If you`re losing sleep, or getting way too stressed out, then feel free to take some time off. If it takes you 60 or 80 or 365 days to get to those 50.000 words, that`s still fine. Just remember that just by starting this thing, you`ve made more progress than most people who keep talking about wanting to write a book but who never even start. This is still supposed to be fun. It`s not work, your life doesn`t depend on it, so make sure it stays fun and that you stay relaxed.

So, with these tips in mind, I hope you`ll all enjoy your Halloween, and be ready for the kick-off tomorrow! I, for one, will be going to the cinema for the new Thor movie tonight, so I should be just fine tomorrow for lots of writing.

See y`all soon, and for those that are joining NaNo: keep me posted on your progress!

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