NaNoWriMo Day #16: Tips for Accomplishing those Daily Goals

Day Sixteen of NaNoWriMo, and thousands of novelists are still going strong. Some have even finished their 50K word goal.

I've had my good days and bad days, and days in between.

There are a couple of things that help me in attaining my goals.

1. Overall word count goal
Scrivener has a nifty tool called "Project Targets" which allows you to set a word goal for your project. I do this, and set the writing deadline option for November 30th. This year, I've set my goal for 80K words. 

You can also declare some days of the week as non-writing days, which I've done for my Saturdays and Sundays (even though I've done some writing on those days, I treat them as vacation-days, so I don't have to write if I can't or just need a thinking day). 

By setting my overall goal and determining my writing days, I know exactly how many words I need to write per day, and I can watch my word count increase until it fills up the bar and I've reached my daily quota.

2. Mini outlines
I've said before that I don't outline, and I don't. But Scrivener has another great tool, which looks a lot like an index card. This is just a section where you summarize the scene you've created in Scrivener. You find the summary spot in the Inspector under the "Notes" section. You can also view all the "index cards" in order, and drag and rearrange them as you like. 

So instead of outlining, I do this, and then I have a rough idea of where I'm writing to, even if it takes me several scenes to get there. In Scrivener, it's easy to add scenes, so I just continue adding and keep the next "outline point" for a later scene.

3. Scene-by-scene word goals
I'm a goal-oriented person, which is probably why NaNo works so well for me.

In Scrivener, there's a way to set a word goal per scene. At the bottom of the screen, there's a round little target icon, and if you click it, you're given the ability to set the word count for the scene. Then there appears next to the target icon a bar which fills up as you write towards your word goal, going from red, to yellow, to green as you reach your goal. I do this for most scenes after I have an idea of what's going to happen in them, so it serves as a *very* rough estimate of wordage.

I like this because I find it nice to have a goal per scene as it helps me know if I'm being too wordy on a section or if it's too short. (If I can only come with 400 words for a scene, I know it's skimpy and I need to add conflict or another character, or consider deleting it.) I also find that when I pay attention to my scene's word count, I subconsciously acknowledge the flow of reading for the audience. This comes more into play later in subsequent drafts and as I'm editing, often trying to be more concise.

4. Sit down and write
There's really nothing else to say but sit down and write. You'll never be a novelist if you don't do this.

NaNo is great for getting my butt in the chair. It creates motivation where there otherwise might be none, and pressure to get it done in a set time period.

So while this may be the way I work, there are endless ways to write a novel out there.