1. Start with an outline
I used to be a writer who never outlines. That makes it very hard to finish a time-limited exercise like NaNo. While a ton of scenes still seem to come out of nowhere when I write, it was extremely helpful to me to have "beats" of the story to aim for. On days when I didn't have any ideas, I looked at scenes I hadn't written yet, and tackled them.
2. I wanted to quit so many times
I was under par just about every single day until the end. When I reached 25,000 words, I realized that all that work I did, I was going to have to do over again. But I kept going. By making a daily habit of it, I made it less of a chore and just a part of my routine. And this was actually the first year, out of many, that I completed the goal.
3. It takes a village
Seeing everyone's tweets and posts on various websites was incredibly helpful, encouraging, and at times just the reminder I needed to keep writing. In the future, I want to plug in with a writing group.
4. It's just a draft
With a writing exercise like NaNo, writing an entire novel in a month, you have to forgive yourself for a lot of dead ends. I told myself that something ought to be salvageable. On Dec 1, it's better to stare at 50,000 words (even if only some are usable) than a single blank page.
5. Back it up
One copy on your hard drive is not enough. Look into cloud storage, have a back-up drive, e-mail the story to yourself as you go, print it - whatever you do, make sure it's secure. My cats jumped on my keyboard a lot, and my computer isn't as young as it used to be. Don't let one glitch wipe out all of your hard work.
Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comments or tweet me @lauraebradford.