Your Happy NaNoWriMo state by Tiffany Turpin Johnson @Fictiffous

_Was it life I've betrayed..._ by Nomadic Lass--creative commonsWelcome back to Tiffany Turpin Johnson, a kidlit writer and editor whose monthly column, Scribe Supplies: Writerly Tools for Success, brings you the best in all types of tools for professional writers. Today she shares her tips for maintaining your fast-draft momentum and your happy NaNoWriMo. Enjoy!


NaNoWriMo: Maintaining Momentum

Anyone participating in this month’s annual National Novel Writing Month knows that around the middle of the month, you start to lose steam. All marathons boast a hefty goal, and NaNoWriMo’s month-long writing marathon is no exception. But completing an entire 50,000–word manuscript in just the 30 days of November can be overwhelming. Even to the most experienced of writers, pounding out a book in a month can seem crazy, but as many NaNoWriMoers can attest, it’s doable. And therein lies the contradiction of any marathon.

NaNoWriMo is full of contradictions, but luckily for participants, most of them work in a writer’s favor. Keep the following contradictions in mind as you try to maintain your momentum and finish your 50,000 words on time.

Eliminate distractions… Writing a book in a month is a tall order. Especially if you have a day job, family obligations, or anything else that keeps you from writing all day long. Which means you don’t have time for such timesucks as Facebook, the crossword, or primetime television.

…but not all of them. If your creativity gets a kickstart from scrolling through your Twitter feed or reading the morning paper, don’t cut those distractions out. Pick the distractions that help you write, and you can indulge guilt-free. Just be sure to limit the time you devote.

Don’t stop working… If you want to meet your end goal, the one thing you absolutely should not do is give up. Write whenever and wherever you can, and even when you can’t write, work on the story in your head. Yes, this will be annoying to your friends and family, so give them a heads up that you’ll be a space cadet until December 1.

…but do stop writing. Sometimes, you have to step away from a problem to see it clearly. If you’re feeling stuck, the drop your pen, close your laptop, and take a walk. A quick break may be just the ticket to your next breakthrough. Or it could just let you work back up the energy you need to plow on. Don’t be afraid to take a breather now and then, but just make sure to get back to your keyboard for some quality time afterward.

Make sacrifices… Keep your priorities straight. Missing your favorite television show might give you an hour of uninterrupted writing time. What can you accomplish in fifteen minutes, much less an hour, of focused work? Cut out anything that isn’t necessary, to free up bits of time here and there for your writing. Even a few minutes several times a day can add up. Take notebooks or tablets when on the go, or whatever else can help you work with the time you have.

…but remember to reward yourself. Met your daily word count goal? Celebrate! Be sure to set mini-goals along the way and treat yourself each time you meet one.

Indulge yourself… You can probably sacrifice watching another late-night rerun, but don’t sacrifice anything you (mentally) can’t live without. Don’t give up your ten minutes of uninterrupted coffee time in the morning, if that’s what you need to get your brain going.

…but don’t neglect your health. Be sure not to enjoy too many celebratory cocktails, or you’ll lose a day of writing to a wicked hangover. And staying up an hour past bedtime to write may be okay, but regularly losing hours of sleep can wear on your health and, ultimately, your brain power.

The trick is to find balance. Your happy NaNoWriMo state will be somewhere along the continuums between all of these contradictions. Experiment to find your own personal balance, and you’ll have a completed novel in no time. Or, in exactly 30 days.

Need more inspiration? Check out these fast-draft resources. And then let us know in the comments what keeps your writing flowing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tiffany Turpin Johnson is a novelist represented by Annie Bomke Literary Agency, and operates TJ Writeography, a freelance writing and photography service. She regularly contributes to various blogs, and serves as Senior Editor for Entranced Publishing and Assistant Editor for Compose Literary Journal. Find her at and on Twitter at @Fictiffous.


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