Happy prep-tober! If you’re as excited for NaNoWriMo as I am, October is probably pretty busy for you. Now is the time to start printing your novel worksheets, introducing yourself on the NaNo forums, and scheduling time to write so you're ready to race to that NaNoWriMo word count goal.
But NaNoWriMo isn’t always stress-free. Attempting to write 50k in a month is hard work. Luckily, I’m here with four tips to boost your word count.
4 Ways to Boost Your NaNoWriMo Word Count
There are a ton of resources at your fingertips offering up clever plot twists to include in your story in order to spark some inspiration and bump up your word count. These are excellent for some people, but it can also be hard trying to find a way to fit a very specific prompt into your story. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.
These tips are designed to help any writer with any story. Think of them less as tricky story prompts and more as helpful strategies to keep in mind as November approaches. Here are four ways to keep your NaNoWriMo word count growing fast.
1. Get a change of scenery
If you only ever write in one space, you might only ever come up with the same ideas. Spicing things up when it comes to your writing location can increase your productivity. This could mean going to a coffee shop, the library, or even something as simple as moving your laptop from your office to the kitchen table.
This is arguably one of the easiest ways to keep your writing fresh and your fingers flying across the keyboard. Even if all it does is keep your view from getting too boring, it will help give your NaNoWriMo word count a boost.
2. Participate in word wars
I am an extremely competitive person (seriously, ask anyone), so word wars are an excellent way for me to force myself through writer’s block in order to beat my opponents. Challenge a friend to write with you for twenty minutes and see who can score the higher word count. This is a great activity to do during write-ins when you have several other writers around you who are also scrambling to meet their daily goals.
If you don’t have anyone in person you can challenge, race against yourself by following the NaNoWriMo word sprints account (@NaNoWordSprints). They have challenges running all the time, and all you have to do is keep up with their tweets announcing when the next one will be. It’s low stakes and a ton of fun.
3. Practice writing descriptively
Anytime you can stretch a scene out, do it. It may not be the best approach to the story, but it’ll do wonders for your word count, and you can always edit later. If you’re struggling to come up with new ideas and you still need to write 750 more words that day, slow your current scene down.
Focus on grounding your characters. Use the five senses and describe your surroundings. Explain something not in one sentence, but three.
This is a first draft, so you’re allowed to be messy. Write as much as you possibly can about one thing, and before you know it, you’ll have reached your goal.
4. Write an outline
Yes, even if you’re a pantser, you should have at least a rough outline. One of the biggest obstacles writers come across during NaNoWriMo is writer’s block. When the pressure of meeting that daily goal is combined with that paralyzing feeling of not knowing what comes next, you might be tempted to give up.
This can all be avoided with a simple outline. If you’re a plotter, take this opportunity to dive deep into your outline, planning not only each chapter, but each scene, if you have to. Be as detailed as you’d like. The more you know about your own story, the easier it will be to actually write it.
If you’re a pantser, try your best to create a vague outline. Make sure you know what happens at the beginning, middle, and end of your story so it’ll be easier to connect all three sections.
And remember, this outline is not a hard and fast set of boundaries. This is more of a suggestion, something you can rely on if you don’t know what to do next. If you want to change things as you go, by all means, do it.
When all else fails . . .
Remember what the spirit of NaNoWriMo is all about: generating new ideas and having fun. If you don’t reach that lofty 50k NaNoWriMo word count goal, don’t worry about it. The fact that you tried is reason enough to celebrate.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the writing journey.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this November? What strategies do you use to stay on track? Let us know in the comments.
Try out a word war of your own by challenging yourself to see how much you can write in fifteen minutes. It doesn’t matter what your story is about so long as you get the words on the page.
When you're done, share your writing in the comments. How many words were you able to write? How did it feel to race against the clock?
Don’t forget to give your fellow writers some love, too. Have fun!