Want to GO PRO? 10 Ways to Own NaNo (And the Other 11 Months, Too)

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Today we launch NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This challenge is to see if we can write 50,000 words in a month. Though 50,000 words is not quite a novel, it IS a professional pace and for those who are new? This is probably going to feel like running a marathon the day after making a resolution to actually use that gym membership. It will push you.

Whether or not you are doing NaNo, these tips will help you go pro because for the pros? Every month is NaNoWriMo.

Most of us are going to have to work a day job and write. We also have a family and like me, you probably have spoiled them by actually feeding them every day. The world is not going to pause because we are writing a book.

Other writers frequently ask how I somehow manage to get a lot of stuff done, despite my having the attention span of a fruit fly…with a bad crack habit. Here are 10 ways to help you be productive even if OOH! SHINY!

…even if you tend to be a tad majorly ADD. The following tips are what help ME stay focused. I am NOT a doctor or psychologist or ADD expert. I’m a Jedi master, warp engine inspector, and WRITER so you get what you get.

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1. Make lists.

I get distracted easily, so a list reminds me of what I need to get accomplished. I make separate lists—housework, fiction, non-fiction, business stuff, global domination using sea monkeys. Then, once I have the list, I do the hardest thing on my writing and business lists FIRST (housework can WAIT).

Like Covey says…

Never mistake the urgent for the important.

Do that NaNo word count right away. Just get it DONE.

2. Understand that feelings are pathological liars.

Writing is a profession, not a playpen.

Professionals ignore their feelings and do it anyway. Only children, amateurs and spirit mediums listen to their feelings. Feelings are fickle, lazy, and secretly jealous of your work and a tad pissed that you no longer hang out with them as much as you used to. The secret to success is to work your tail off. Be willing get up earlier and stay up later than others. Be willing to do what others won’t.

But I wanna write books. I don’t wanna do social media, toooooo. It’s haaaaard.

Yes. It is. There are many reasons this profession is not for everyone.

3. Use The Force…of Self-Discipline

Who cares HOW you get things done, so long as they get done?

I use the “Swiss Cheese” approach. I have my list and I take bite after bite after bite until the work is finished. Every book can be written in 250, 500, or 1,000 word bites. I CANNOT work linearly, so I don’t try and yes I was always in trouble in school but public schools were designed to train factory workers and corporate mind slaves, not people who get paid to play with imaginary friends.

4. Mix it up.

I am a writer, wife, entrepreneur, teacher, and mom who has yet to make enough money to afford servants (which sucks), and cats make lousy slaves. This means I get to do most of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and housework. Write your 200 words, fold a load of whites, empty the dishwasher, then write another 200 words.

I LOVE audio books. I can always tell writers who don’t read. Want to be a great author? Read as much as humanly possible. I listen to audio books while doing housework. It makes the dishes go faster and hones my skills.

And I don’t want to hear, Oh well when I am writing I don’t like to read because that author’s voice will bleed over into my work.

All I have to say about that is If only you could be that frigging lucky!

Yes, please let Gillian Flynn infiltrate and hijack my work. Like NOW!

5. Suck it up, Buttercup.

Understand that sometimes we will have to sit for a long time and focus. It’s hard. Whaaaaaaahhhhh, but anyone who thinks being a writer is a fluffy hamster dream has been hanging out with their feelings…and feelings lie, sabotage and will talk you into living on ice cream and cookie sprinkles.

6. Make mean writer friends.

Yes, the Swiss Cheese approach works well for people with ADD, and yes, there are times we need to duct tape our a$$es to the chair. This is why I befriend really mean people who kinda scare me. On the surface my friends are funny and sweet and would do anything for a friend…but that’s the issue. They will do anything for a friend, including ordering a hit on my television.

Come hang out on WANATribe. It is a Ning I created just for writers and guess what? It is all writing all the time and no one spams or trolls or talks about the election because I am a loving but vengeful god and will smite them. So if you need to escape Facebook and find those mean friends? We are there. We have been doing sprints in the Main Room IM for A YEAR.

I kick your @$$ every day free of charge.

You’re welcome.

*polishes riding crop*

7. Ditch loser friends.

We all have them or have had them. People who like to complain, make excuses, indulge in their feelings all the time.

Ditch writers (and other people) who believe in luck, not work. Laziness, apathy, and whining are contagious. Treat excuses like EBOLA. A friend coughs blood excuses all over you, and, within two to three days, you start coughing up blood excuses, too…until your dream of being a writer liquifies and bleeds out and I hope you’re happy with yourself.

Killer.

8. Forget perfection.

Perfection is an urban legend, started by Feelings (because Feelings are a needy boyfriend/girlfriend who don’t understand the world does not revolve around them.)

The world doesn’t reward perfection; it rewards finishers.

This is the big lesson NaNo is really trying to teach you. Often we lose focus on what we are REALLY doing, because we are getting sidetracked with nitpicking. Guess what, no half-finished novel ever became a runaway best-seller…but more than a few crappy-but-finished ones have.

9. Exercise.

Often ADD can be fueled by being too sedentary. Human bodies were not designed to sit on their @$$e$ all day. Ever have a puppy that chews everything and is into everything and short of strapping itself to a rocket is just being a GIANT PAIN IN THE @$$?

How do you get it to behave? Put on roller blades and run puppy until puppy wants to slip into something more comfortable…like a coma. ADD people are human puppies, so stop piddling on the carpet…I mean, go get a little exercise and your focus will generally improve.

Again, I strongly recommend audio books. I walk every day and I have made my way through a large chunk of the NYTBS list.

10. Drink lots of water.

Human bodies are a hydroelectric system, and water enhances conductivity. Cool writer ideas/thoughts work this way. Muse Pixies of Awesomeness are conducted through your brain to your fingers and they bring the cool story stuff. MPAs like to travel via fairy, or ferry on WATER. They can’t travel if the waterways are too dry and moor them on a cookie sprinkle…and then you can’t focus.

It’s science. Don’t argue.

I hope these tips help, because finishing NaNo is no easy task. In fact, I am about to get to MY word count for the day and yes I am over on WANATribe. Again, if you NEED help and accountability I am there five days a week no matter what so no excuses. Last year everyone who sprinted finished Nano in record time…because they had to keep up with me (I finished in 11 days). If you want to really experience the professional pace, come join me.

Those of you ADD folk out there who’ve paid attention to this point, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!!

…now back in your hole.

It writes the words or it gets the hoseO_o.

What are your thoughts? Struggles? Tips? Words of wisdom. It’s okay. You have permission to get back in your hole after you comment😀.

It rubs the elbow grease on. IT RUBS THE ELBOW GREASE ON! *pets fluffy white dog*

I love hearing from you!
And to prove it and show my love, for the month of NOVEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel. I will announce October’s winner shortly. Just got back from LA and need time to catch up.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

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  1. #1 by homehugshuskies on November 1, 2016 - 11:13 am

    Reblogged this on .

  2. #2 by saralitchfield on November 1, 2016 - 11:14 am

    So spooky – I’d *just* finished writing today’s to-do list when this popped into my inbox! Nine to go! Jazzed for NaNo… Let’s do this!!!

  3. #3 by PHS on November 1, 2016 - 11:16 am

    Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:
    It’s timely and needed. These tips will get your attention and start you on the writing path if you take them to heart.

  4. #4 by Bridgett Morigna on November 1, 2016 - 11:44 am

    Reblogged this on Writing and Musing and commented:
    This is great advice on how to NaNo and how to approach writing in general!

    Forget perfection is excellent advice. Perfect isn’t possible, but if you finish writing enough things there’s a good chance you’ll finish something good.

  5. #5 by Stella HB on November 1, 2016 - 12:02 pm

    Kristin this is one of the best blogs I’ve read of yours and they are all amazing so I’m basically picking amazing from amazing. I have copied this bit:

    Professionals ignore their feelings and do it anyway. Only children, amateurs and spirit mediums listen to their feelings. Feelings are fickle, lazy, and secretly jealous of your work and a tad pissed that you no longer hang out with them as much as you used to. The secret to success is to work your tail off. Be willing get up earlier and stay up later than others. Be willing to do what others won’t.

    But I wanna write books. I don’t wanna do social media, toooooo. It’s haaaaard.

    Yes. It is. There are many reasons this profession is not for everyone.

    I want to paste it everywhere. Thank you

  6. #6 by 1authorcygnetbrown on November 1, 2016 - 12:10 pm

    I love this list! I especially love #10. The first thing I thought of though when I read the recommendation was that drinking water leads to sitting on the porcelain throne and how much insight I gain in my writing projects when I am using the bathroom! It works almost as good as when I shower!

  7. #7 by Kit Dunsmore on November 1, 2016 - 12:34 pm

    Great advice as always. I particularly love the idea that ADD is due to being too sedentary.

  8. #8 by kingsoracle on November 1, 2016 - 12:41 pm

    This is absolutely timely for me, because I have been in writing hiatus in the last few months,because it was challenging for me to Mix it up. Now that I am getting my groove back.This post is an encouragement. Thanks.

  9. #9 by kimberlywenzler on November 1, 2016 - 12:46 pm

    I love everything you say. I’m not doing NaNo (what?!) but I’m finishing up 2 manuscripts and I have to start looking for mean friends to read them. Thanks, as always, for the great message.

  10. #10 by Lynn on November 1, 2016 - 12:54 pm

    I have been debating NaNoWriMo this year….but you’re right (and I’m in)!

  11. #11 by Lois Baron on November 1, 2016 - 1:08 pm

    Entered NaNo this year and signed up for learning how to use Scrivener this month too, because pain always needs tech problems sprinkled on top. ::looking for chocolate while giggling hysterically:;

  12. #12 by Jan M. Flynn on November 1, 2016 - 1:17 pm

    Wise words, Kristen. Especially good reminder that feelings like like the patients on an episode of “House”. Now back in my hole.

  13. #13 by Jan M. Flynn on November 1, 2016 - 1:19 pm

    Reblogged this on Jan M Flynn and commented:
    For anyone tackling NaNoWriMo — or, really, any project of substance — I offer you wise and wonderful words from the lovely and talented Kristen Lamb. Enjoy!

  14. #14 by A.S. Akkalon on November 1, 2016 - 1:53 pm

    Thank you for the awesome advice, especially the advice to ditch loser friends. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Some people are energy vampires.

    The only thing I disagree with is this one: “Be willing get up earlier and stay up later than others.” Yes, sometimes all you need is an extra hour in the day, however you get it. But in the long run getting enough sleep is important, and the hours you are up will be more productive if you’re not perpetually exhausted. Or maybe I just like sleep.🙂

  15. #15 by Bryan Dawe on November 1, 2016 - 1:55 pm

    Wonderful, I laughed and laughed…my 1500 words were finished at 3:00 a.m. I can always use a good whipping though, my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, hell, my first attempt at writing.
    Especially loved…”Oh well when I am writing I don’t like to read because that author’s voice will bleed over into my work.
    All I have to say about that is If only you could be that frigging lucky!”
    Thank you for a great post.

  16. #16 by Fleur on November 1, 2016 - 1:57 pm

    11. Get over the fact that your friends don’t understand that you can’t hang out anymore or can’t come over to see their new dog. I’ve got 2 books to finish by Christmas and I don’t have time for activities outside of only the essentials!
    I’m just now realizing that other people will never understand how hard you have to work, and how time consuming it is. I just have accept that I will disappoint them, and just move on emotionally from that sad place.

  17. #17 by ellenchauvet on November 1, 2016 - 2:15 pm

    Reblogged this on Erotic Vampire and commented:
    Another gem from Kristin Lamb – 50,000 words in a month? Let’s do this. Please let JR Ward, Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, Laurell K Hamilton infiltrate and hijack my work. Like NOW!

  18. #18 by C. B. Matson on November 1, 2016 - 3:13 pm

    Kristen, you’ve given us 10 good reasons *not* to NaNo this year (or next). It’s no good coming off November burned crispy like that end of the turkey wing that just wouldn’t stay under the cloth. I don’t wanna go into December panic buying everything on Amazon *Buy*Wrap*Send* because I haven’t the energy to get up from Netflix. I’m not gonna eat Hawaiian Pizza (hold the pineapple) instead of Christmas ham. I wanna write every day day using all of your recommendations… that means foregoing the binge and working on the long-game.

    X-Posted on Goodreads, Foreworld group that I mod… does that count?

    • #19 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 1, 2016 - 8:19 pm

      Yeah NaNo isn’t for everyone. I just have a crushing deadline and I fast draft everything. During Nano I just have company.

  19. #20 by rosannebane on November 1, 2016 - 3:14 pm

    I most appreciated your point that “The world doesn’t reward perfection; it rewards finishers.” My challenge when drafting is knowing when a scene is truly complete (enough for this revision/draft) and when I’m being a perfectionist (one of my go-to forms of resistance). I usually figure it out in a day or two.

  20. #21 by Carol Balawyder on November 1, 2016 - 3:56 pm

    Very interesting! Enjoyed the content and the style!🙂

  21. #22 by Mrs.Curtis on November 1, 2016 - 4:26 pm

    Hi Kristen, Norton will not allow me to sign up for WANAtribe, it says it’s configured unsafely!  I would love to be a part of it, will you be updating? Thanks for all the useful and entertaining advice! lovelovelovemoreloveinfinitelove:syd

    From: Kristen Lamb’s Blog To: sydarta@yahoo.com Sent: Tuesday, November 1, 2016 12:10 PM Subject: [New post] Want to GO PRO? 10 Ways to Own NaNo (And the Other 11 Months, Too) #yiv1863240907 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1863240907 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1863240907 a.yiv1863240907primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1863240907 a.yiv1863240907primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1863240907 a.yiv1863240907primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1863240907 a.yiv1863240907primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1863240907 WordPress.com | Author Kristen Lamb posted: “Today we launch NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This challenge is to see if we can write 50,000 words in a month. Though 50,000 words is not quite a novel, it IS a professional pace and for those who are new? This is probably going to feel l” | |

    • #23 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 1, 2016 - 4:54 pm

      Wow, that’s the first I have head of it. It is powered by Ning so I don’t have any control over that. But I can ask. I know one of the WANAs does a Twitter hashtag #wordmongering and the #MyWANA peeps are probably always up for a sprint.

  22. #24 by Deborah Makarios on November 1, 2016 - 4:28 pm

    Hullo from New Zealand, where NaNo started yesterday! Personally I’ve made the hard call not to read a book (aka my favourite thing to do) until I finish my word-count each day – because otherwise I will stay firmly rooted on the couch and the word-count will die of loneliness and neglect. Sometimes you have to be that mean writer friend for yourself.
    I can also recommend 5BX/XBX as suitable indoor exercise for writers living in places where the weather seems to have a perpetual drippy cold (and won’t blow its nose).

  23. #25 by Courtney M. Wendleton on November 1, 2016 - 6:01 pm

    Reblogged this on Books and More.

  24. #26 by mlrobertswriter on November 1, 2016 - 6:57 pm

    Reblogged this on M. L. Roberts.

  25. #27 by katkent2014 on November 1, 2016 - 7:33 pm

    Reblogged this on Kat's Writing Runway and commented:
    Ten ways to be more productive during NaNoWriMo and beyond by Kristen Lamb. !!!Awesome!!!

  26. #28 by katkent2014 on November 1, 2016 - 7:33 pm

    !!!Awesome!!!

  27. #29 by ugiridharaprasad on November 1, 2016 - 10:03 pm

    Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

  28. #30 by tkmorin on November 1, 2016 - 10:03 pm

    Consider my butt kicked! Thank you for the inspiration!

  29. #31 by Carmineberyl on November 2, 2016 - 12:18 am

    Good advice is easy to come by; great advice is rare. Thanks for this GREAT piece of advice: great in terms of size, content and humour. Yep! Humour really tends to catch my eyes and even a little bit of it makes my day. Hail NaNoWriMo!

  30. #32 by powerjacob on November 2, 2016 - 8:24 am

    This is an awesome account of what it takes for an author to write while dealing with a job, family, and responsibilities. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Some people think all it takes is to sit down and write a book as though it only takes an afternoon to complete a novel. They don’t see the short bursts of manic writing, or the late nights hammering away a keys because they just can’t stop building the world they are creating. Great post!

  31. #33 by conniecockrell on November 2, 2016 - 10:07 am

    Thank you again. I did 2500+ words day 1. I intend to keep that pace through the month and come out the other side a NaNo winner! This is my 6th year and I love the fun and camaraderie. Thanks for the sprint space offer. I appreciate it.

    To everyone, Go forth and write. Have fun with it!

  32. #34 by Marina Costa on November 2, 2016 - 12:24 pm

    Reblogged this on Marina Costa.

  33. #35 by Lily on November 3, 2016 - 3:44 am

    Love the advice injected with humour, makes reading easy! Procrastination always seems to get the best of me, but, time to get back to writing.
    Great post!

  34. #36 by Valley Brown on November 4, 2016 - 10:06 am

    Priceless and awesome. Passing it on.

  35. #37 by Icy Sedgwick on November 7, 2016 - 5:37 am

    I didn’t like what I was writing so I skipped ahead several scenes and now I can’t wait to write every day! I’ll go back and fill in the gaps (if I even need to) after November.

    Woooooo writer rebellion!😀

  36. #38 by Amanda Heaton on November 10, 2016 - 2:47 pm

    Thanks for the great ideas! I posted on this same thing earlier today. All so true! Your blog is fun to read 😁

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