NaNoWriMo Prep: How to Write 2000 Words a Day
Two thousand is a big number. Sitting down to write 2000 words can be extremely intimidating, so the first thing you should do is make that number friendlier.
Write 500 words in 4 writing sessions.
Chop up that big, intimidating number. Start with a goal of 500 words. In one session, with no breaks, write them all. Take a break, then write the next 500. Repeat until you reach at least 2000.
If you write 650 words in one session, don’t aim for 350 in the next. Let those extra words add up. A few hundred extra words each day will get you to 50k quicker than you could imagine.
I recommend timing your sessions, aiming for 20 minutes each time. The deadline will help you get the words out, With 10 minute breaks between each session, you can reach your 2000 word goal in two hours. Which brings me to the next point:
Don’t stop and think about your words. Don’t go back and improve a previous sentence. Save all of your edits for later. Focus on writing as quickly as possible, throwing everything you have at that blank page. This will actually help boost your creativity. Make your brain work so fast, be so focused, that it doesn’t have any space to doubt itself and you’ll be amazed at what you can come up with.
But don’t worry if you can’t write 500 words in 20 minutes on day one. Writing quickly is a skill and it will take a few days of training.
Let the words suck.
This is absolutely key if you want a high word count. When you’re writing an entire chapter in a day, you shouldn’t expect the words to be beautiful. You’re not aiming at lyrical prose. You’re mining raw material that you can work into art later.
Letting the words suck can include:
- Writing [something happens here] in place of a scene.
- Letting yourself use cliches as shorthand.
- Dialog that is really exposition.
- Long descriptions of things that don’t matter.
- Letting your characters ramble until you discover what it is they actually need to say.
As long as there are 2000 words and they relate to your story, they’re exactly what you need. And if you hate having bad words on a page, once you have your 2000 for a day, you can go back and fix all of it. Take all the time you need. Just reach that word count first.
Tip: if you do edit at the end of each day, make that a separate document from your official NaNo doc. This way, you can trim scenes, descriptions, and dialog without worrying about its effect on your word count. (If you make a scene/description/sentence longer, feel free to include that in your NaNo doc.)
Don’t know what to write next?
So you’ve written 1200 words, completed a scene, and you have no idea where the story is going next. Here are some things you can do to get those 800 words in anyway:
- Go to writeordie.com and FORCE the words out.
- If that doesn’t work, reread the scene you’ve just written and see if you’re missing some obvious foreshadowing, some clue as to where the story’s headed. (You can also add a few lines to bulk up your wc.)
- If that fails, take a walk and let the fresh air usher a solution to you.
- If that fails, skip the next section. Write another scene. Go where the story is waiting for you. Come back to the other scene at a later time.
Instead of breaking your writing session into four parts, break it into five. Use your first writing session to sketch out an entire chapter, like an outline, but with bits and pieces of dialog and description. Figure out where you’re headed and a couple of key stops along the way. Knowing what you’re writing towards will make doing the actual, fleshed-out writing much easier and quicker.
You can also do an outline for the next day’s writing after you’ve gotten your 2000 words for the day in. Future you will be extremely pleased.