Bob Mayer has some tips on how to NaNo on his blog Write It Forward.
Here’s the thing (for me) that made this link a must-see:
You will tend to outline your book in the same manner in which you organize your daily life.
We writer-types like to confuse ourselves, especially considering all the writing advice that’s out there. Just about every writing book ever has some chapter or section devoted to ‘process’ and it’s all that personal stuff. I write XX words and quit for the day. I spend XX planning. I do XX pre-writing. I can’t go forward until I have XX completed.
Which, is fine. Finding out what works for you is a huge thing. But I do get a little bit annoyed when “what works for one person” is treated as anything more than what works for one person. Yet, how do you know what will work for you?
If you want to learn something about your writer-self, examine yourself and how you handled the last big project you did. For the purposes of this example, let’s qualify big as a project that needs at least fifteen hours invested. Doesn’t have to be creative (though that helps), could be something for work or school or whatever.
But do think about how you handled unexpected developments, last minute emergencies, and the most stressful parts of that project. Did you start super-organized and that fell to the wayside as chaos ensued? Or did your calendar/itinerary stay true to the eleventh hour? Did you need to goad yourself into the work using mind-games and rewards for mini-goals?
And what about all the good things… When did you feel most in control/confident about your project? Some people like the looming deadline and perform better under pressure, pulling miracles out of special places. Others get easily overwhelmed by the mountain of work ahead and must get more done early. I fall a bit more into the second category, so it’s important for me to start strong in NaNo. If I get behind I panic that I’ll never get caught up (which is ridiculous, but the mind loves to play games). Do you need to make sure your writing space is de-cluttered before you begin or will the empty desk paralyze you? Can you jump in with just an idea or do you need a plan, a back up plan, and perhaps a plan C?
How are you going to help yourself succeed at NaNo?