I’m not writing NaNoWriMo this year – my schedule just doesn’t allow for it (and deadlines for paid writing have to come first.)
That being said, I figured I’d give out what little bit of advice I figured out when I participated last year.
1) You get out of it what you put into it. If your goal is to crank out those 50k and then sit back when you’re done, that’s one thing. If you’re looking to kick-start a story or start up the good habit of writing every day, that’s another thing all together. 50k isn’t a novel by any stretch, but if participating in NaNo helps you in the long term, then that might be a better goal than just finishing up with all the words.
2) Writing in packs: This works for some people, and there can be something wonderful about a group energy – comparing writing goals, setbacks, word counts, successes. If you fall into a good group it can really give you the boost you need. On the other hand, I think some people sign up for NaNo and then use other people’s failures as a reason to let themselves slack off.. Missing a day here or there isn’t going to make or break you, but watch out for the “Group fail” mindset – the one where you see that Suzie Sunshine is skipping her word count for the day for reason x, so you decide you’re not going to make it either. The next day it repeats itself with someone else and before you know it you’re so far behind you’ll never catch up. Also watch out for spending too much time egging other people on. Congratulate them on their success, but don’t get so swept up in the social networking aspect of NaNo that you don’t spend the time you need on yourself.
3) Excuses. There are a ton of reasons why you might not have time to write on a particular day. Ignore them. If you want to be a “real” writer, then you have to set aside that time to do it – even if it’s in 30 minute snippets several times a day. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. Internet off. Find your motivation and run with it.
4) Kill your inner editor. With dirty drafting like this, unless you’re actually doing nothing *but* writing all day (and lucky you if you are), you just don’t have time to go back and fix things up. Best thing to do is leave a note in the margin about what you’d like to change later and keep going. If your plot really does need to change based on this, just note it and start writing as though that change *has* already been written in.
5) Writing isn’t always fun. Writers write because they can’t NOT write, not because it’s all sweetness and light and rainbows out the ass. Sometimes it’s a daily struggle. Sometimes everything you churn out on a particular day is crap. But a writer will push through that – they may need to reevaluate their methods, but in the end it really is about the story. And then going back and editing the unholy hell out of it.
So that’s just my .02 cents. NaNo isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. I did it once just to see if I really *could* crank out 50k in a month. I did, but a good bit of what I’d written will probably never be used. On the other hand, it was a great way for me to determine my own limits of quality vs quantity. Chances are I’ll never be once of those writers who manages 5000 words a day (at least not while I’m working full time), but that’s just me.
Good luck and happy writing!