November 9, 2015

my tips for a successful write-in

We've officially made it through the first week of National Novel Writing Month. If you're participating this year, go ahead and give yourself a round of applause.


This marks my sixth consecutive year of participating in NaNoWriMo. It's how I started all of my novels, including Hard Hats and Doormats, The Marrying Type, First & Goal, and the soon-to-be released Going for Two. This year I'm working on a new standalone, but I also have the privilege of being one of the Lincoln, Nebraska, municipal liaisons. Basically a ML is a local volunteer who serves as a resource to other writers in the area, and we help coordinate write-ins. And if you don't know, a write-in is a planned time for writing at a location other than home. While NaNoWriMo write-ins are officially a group endeavor, I maintain that you can have a write-in for just yourself.

Today I wanted to share a few of my tips for holding a successful write-in whether it is for yourself or a group. I'd also love to hear any of your tips, so please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

My Tips for a Successful Write-In

1. Location, location, location
It's the number one rule of real estate, and the number one rule for a good write-in. It's also totally subjective. I write best at coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, and cafes, which is where I scheduled our official write-ins. (I also like writing at bars, but that's more of a personal thing.) But your special writing place can be anything. The other good factor to keep in mind for your location is to select a place that has electrical outlets for your computer and preferably comfortable chairs, because you're going to be sitting a lot. I also prefer a place that is a little busy or quiet so I can get lost in a story. But really, I wrote almost half of Hard Hats and Doormats in airports, so you can make it work anywhere.

2. Stay hydrated
I'm talking water. I'm talking coffee or tea. I'm talking beer (though I'd encourage moderation). Whatever it takes. Regularly drinking some sort of liquid has the added benefit of making you feel replenished and full, which means you can concentrate on your story without those nagging hunger or thirst pangs. It also has the added benefit of forcing you to get up every once in a while to relieve yourself. I'm not being gross here, but making a point. I can't tell you how many times I've stood up, walked to the restroom and walked back to have resolved a tricky issue I was dealing with in my story.

3. Bring some headphones
I've found that if you have a pair of headphones and some music, you can escape into your story that much better. Actually, forget the music. Sometimes just having the headphones in will help you feel like you're getting serious about your story. It also will help you drown out the noise if your selected location has a bit too much hustle and bustle for your liking. It also also keeps you from chatting with your other writers too much. (Guilty here.)

4. Set and track goals
I'm a bit of a nerd about this, but I like to set word count goals for myself each time I sit down to write. It usually involves making a chart and/or list that I can check off as I accomplish my goals. There's something pretty rewarding about seeing that you're making progress. And speaking of rewards...

5. Give yourself rewards
I give myself a sparkly sticker every time I write another 1,000 words. I also made treat bags for my fellow writers, which is their reward for showing up to a write-in. Just because some of us are almost thirty doesn't mean the thrill of getting treats has gone away.

So those are my write-in tips. Do you have any others to add to the list?

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  1. Get a nano buddy! I have a friend who is doing Nano too and we ask each other everyday (so far) how we are doing. He was doing well last week, not he's dragging and i'm kicking ass. It helps :) Thanks for the tips Laura!