April 7, 2014

How I Survived NaNoWriMo 2013 (Without Dying to my Family)

By Bethany Macmanus

With November 2013 come and gone, I'm 50K words into my romantic suspense novel, thanks to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). To say writing with a goal of 1667 words a day, every single day, was challenging, would be an understatement. Honestly, at this point, my family is hoping I don't do it again next year (maybe they'll come around—I've got a year to get them to see things my way!).

As the month and the novel both transpired, here are some things I found worked for me.
·        I used the “timed typing” function on my AlphaSmart to yank myself free of distractions like the Internet, and to focus on simply getting words on the screen, without my inner editor screaming its head off. True, there were spelling and punctuation issues I'd be embarrassed for even my mother to read, but it got the job done, and that's what's important in NaNo.
·        I lowered my house cleanliness standards, and then I lowered them again. I didn't let ANYONE see my house during NaNo, and I might have even walked around talking to the clutter to let it know it would meet its demise, come December. I also lowered my nutrition standards, letting my kids eat more fish sticks, frozen pizza, and mac 'n' cheese from a box than I would be comfortable admitting in many social circles.
·        Don't tell anyone, but for some scenes, if I wasn't hearing my characters' thoughts that day, I would just brainstorm description for the setting, dialogue, what the characters knew so far, and what they needed to find out. What their goals, motivations, and conflicts were for that scene; and reminders in caps for stuff I needed to change, that I'd written earlier.
·        I asked people on the social networks (namely Facebook) to hold me accountable if they saw me on there. I did, and they did. Enough said 'bout that...
·        I used inspiring sounds and smells liberally. is a great white noise producer because it has variety, and it's free. I occasionally played my Celtic music while the timer was going on my AlphSmart, because the lively rhythms made me type faster. For scents, I used both candles and essential oils. If I found the setting of a scene difficult to visualize or get into, I would play YouTube videos of similar settings, whatever I could find to get those cogs turning.
·        I assigned a reward to myself, every day for the month of November. It might be helpful to write it on a calendar to yourself (I didn't do that, just thought of it right now). Some days, I asked my husband to hold my reward in safekeeping until I finished my NaNo.
·        I backed out of anything I possibly could, for the month. This included PTO, author meetings, critique partner responsibilities and chat time, etc. I apologized profusely to folks for my lapse in commitment.
Bethany Macmanus lives in Houston with her husband, daughter and son. After practicing as an RN for five years, Bethany left the nursing field to pursue a fiction writing passion the Lord planted in her heart when she was a child. And as Nancy Drew mysteries were her guilty pleasure during those early years, so she naturally gravitates her pen toward the things that go bump in the night.She draws many interesting and perplexing facts from her former career. These come in handy when her characters get themselves into serious scrapes, and give a psychological spin to many of her plots. She’s allergic to milk, Sulfa drugs, and people who stop in the middle of intersections while driving. She has been a member American Christian Fiction Writers since Jan. 2011. She has been honored in 2011 ACFW Genesis contest Finalist for Mystery/Suspense/Thriller and 2013 RWA Daphne du Maurier (unpublished)contest Finalist for Inspirational Romantic Suspense. She has authored Six Solitude Road and Murdered Between Stalagmites
She blogs on her website, at 
Twitter: @bgmacmanus

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