The last two years, I finished NaNoWriMo early (State of Emergency took 22 days and State of Rebellion was done before Thanksgiving, I believe). This year, I will finish right on time, at the end of the month. So how do I keep from burning out? After all, writing a 50,000 word novel (a novel that must be worthy for publication, by the way!) is quite a feat - a daunting task at first glance, even! Here's how I maintain my sanity:
- Use plot points. After writing dozens of novels, I can honestly say that the best way to keep yourself on track is to have your major plot points worked out already. Chart out your story ahead of time. Believe me, when you hit the 30K word mark and you're trying to figure out what else should happen in your story...you'll be glad you planned in advance.
- Be faithful. NaNoWriMo is all about achieving an epic goal in the mere timespan of 30 days. For some, this is not such a difficult task. For others, it's a huge challenge because - well, you have to WRITE A BOOK IN ONE MONTH. It's kind of a huge deal. The best way to make sure you make it to the finish line is to find time to write every day. One hour will usually keep you on track - or around 16K words per day.
- It's okay to take a sick day. Okay. So I'm terrible about following through with this one. When I'm writing a book, I hit my word count whether I'm holding my stomach from food poisoning or blowing my nose into the hundredth tissue for the hundredth time. At the very least, on my sickest day, I get that word count in. But if for some reason I just can't meet the daily word goal, I double down the next day and catch up. It can be done if you really want it.
- The Final Stretch Syndrome. Many people burn out during the last week of NaNoWriMo because they've reached a point in their books where they don't know what else can happen. That, my friends, is why I use plot points and story outlines. BUT, the last 15K words is actually the funnest part - for me, anyway! It's where you get to wrap up your story and hit home with your characters' transformations. It might be hard, but think of it this way: at the end of it, you will have written an entire novel!
- Drinks lots of tea or coffee (or both). So. I'm a big tea drinker. Green tea, orange tea, cherry tea, chai tea, peach tea, black tea, raspberry tea. All the good stuff. I will drink coffee if it has cream or sugar, but I prefer my coffee with chocolate (hello, peppermint mocha!), if I absolutely MUST drink it. What caffeine does for us writers is help us stay up late to finish our novels. And whether you get that in the form of tea, coffee, or the occasional Red Bull makes no difference to me. *wink*
- Remember that you are amazing. For merely taking up the task of writing a novel, you should be applauded. You're awesome, and don't you ever think otherwise! Write on!