5 things I’ve learned after 2 Days of NaNoWriMo

We’re on Day 3 of National Novel Writing Month.  How are my Mentorees holding up?  Have you received your third “Writing Badge” yet (for passing 5,000 words)?  I haven’t.  After two days I’m about 500 words short of that first 5,000 word milestone. But, I did earn my 2nd “Writing Badge” on Day 1 after entering my first day’s total.  And presuming I write an acceptable amount of words today, I’ll earn that third Writing Badge today (for reaching 5,000 words).  Hopefully a lot of my buddies join me.  In fact, if you want to be my “Buddy” on NaNoWriMo, just find my Forum Posting under “Mentors Looking for Newbies” and click on my username Outskirts_Press_Brent and then add me as a buddy. I’ll add you, as well, and that way, you’ll be able to see my Novel Stats through the month.  Hopefully the goal of writing more than I do inspires and motivates you toward great success this November.

And that brings me to the 5 things I have learned so far, after just 2 days of participating in National Novel Writing Month:

1) Publicize your goals and your efforts — It’s much harder to “quit” if other people know what you’re trying to do.  If you’re writing in a vacuum and you are the only person aware of your NaNoWriMo participation, it’s going to be easy to call it quits when those word count totals just aren’t what they should be. But by adding “Buddies” to your NaNoWriMo profile, or by posting your goals on Facebook or Twitter or your own website, you increase the chances of your success because your buddies, friends, followers, or visitors will be watching.  Even if they’re strangers, allow them to hold you accountable for your success.

2) Waking up early in the morning with the idea of “getting some writing done” isn’t going to work for me.  With the sun still far below the horizon, and unable to fall back to sleep with thoughts of NaNoWriMo swirling in my head, I decided it would be time best spent to crawl out of bed early and hit the book running.  So that’s what I did on November 1. But two paragraphs in, my lovely son interrupted me, and I always choose him over the computer, so I had to save my progress and plan to come back to it later.  That was probably harder than waiting until I KNEW I had some uninterrupted time available.

3)  This is closely related to the previous paragraph.  Being interrupted in the middle of writing and then being tasked with the idea of having to return back to it later in the day is much harder (at least for me) than just plowing through.  On November 1 I had to return back to my book a few hours later, and it took precious time to get the gears grinding again.  I knocked out the numbers on Day 2 all in one fell swoop and not only did I write MORE, but I wrote more confidently, and more quickly. All good things when the clock is constantly ticking.

4) Save each day’s work as its own file.  This holds two advantages. A) You don’t run the risk of losing your ENTIRE book if your file corrupts unexpectedly.  B) You don’t run the risk of reading your previous day’s work over and over, which takes time away from what you SHOULD be doing (writing).  On the other hand, there are two downsides: A) Each day you need to add up your own word count before entering it into NaNoWriMo, because their “stat machine” simply wants a cumulative total. B) During the “confirmation” stage when you apparently need to upload your book to the NaNoWriMo website for word-count verification you will need to combine your documents in one single file. But that 30-part cut-n-paste exercise seems like a small price to pay to keep me from re-reading my first page over and over again (which is something I’m apt to do otherwise).

5) Being a fast typist helps.  A few days ago I posted a link to an online touch typing webpage which taxed you with copying a written paragraph into a box as quickly as you could.  I registered a words-per-minute rating of 81, with 1 mistake (including the time it took for me to move my hand to the mouse to click the “Start” button).   When I posted those results on my Facebook page with a challenge to my Facebook friends to beat me, of course my wonderful (and competitive) Outskirts Press EVP, Kelly, raised the bar to 83 words per minute with 2 mistakes at http://fastfingers.com — So naturally I had to give that different website a try. The good news was, it didn’t require me to take time away from typing to click the “Start” button. So my first attempt rated a 95 words-per-minute rating, but with 5 mistakes. Too many in my book, so I tried it again and earned a 94 WPM time with 3 mistakes, which the site makes easy to post to your Facebook page.   Logistically speaking, typing quicker makes it easier to get the required words on the paper. But more importantly, having a writing buddy (Kelly is participating in NaNoWriMo, also), especially an equally competitive one, increases the chances that BOTH writers will succeed, simply because neither writer wants to fail.  If you don’t have a writing buddy on NaNoWriMo, find one.

Or review my stats and compete against me. Here are my DAILY STATS for November 2, 2014:

Average Per Day 2254
Words Written Today 2316
Target Word Count 50,000
Target ~ Words/Day 1,667
Total Words Written 4508
Words Remaining 45,492
Current Day 2
Days Remaining 29
At this rate, you’ll finish November 23
Words/Day to finish on time 1,569