Inspired by NaNoWriMo. I didn’t reference anything for this, just wrote my own experience, so I’m sure there is overlap with other lists out there.
Anyways, here are my most used Tips and Tricks to Increasing Word Count on my NaNo Manuscript.
- Write Dialogue between 2-3 characters. Whenever I start writing dialogue, the characters often have things to say, responses to give, and when I’m finished with the conversation, I’ll find that I wrote 1000 words without even realizing it. This especially works well if the characters are arguing or explaining something to each other.
- Participate in Word Sprints! NaNoWriMo Word Sprints on twitter offers great sprinting opportunities and whenever I get involved, I push my word count further than I expected it could go.
- Find Inspiring, Relevant Illustrations. And steal shamelessly from them! Every element, color, shadow, anything that comes to mind when looking at the illustration – take that inspiration and apply it to whatever you’re writing at the time. This is especially helpful for when I write about landscapes or general settings! One of my new favorite exercises is to find a gif of an expression and then write a paragraph describing that gif.
- Listen to an inspiring Song or Album on Repeat. Find a song or album that inspires and resonates with the energy or mood to come through in a scene, then put that song on repeat and keep writing until the scene feels finished. And then write just a little bit more~
- Switch between headphones and speakers. Keep the mind entertained by listening with headphones sometimes and speakers at other times. I use headphones for narrow focus when I’m already on a roll. I use speakers when I’ll be getting up and thinking/plotting (I pace around the house when I plot sometimes).
- Just DO IT! Eventually, I shut off my brain and stop thinking in order to get those fingers (or pen) going! Even if it all ends up being junk, something was still written. For me, most of the time, I keep 70% of that “junk” and find interesting plot developments I might not have otherwise considered. It helps to think “Just One More Word”
- Keep Your Word Count Even. This is a trick that I use that is similar to “just one more word” and it is that when I highlight my newly written section, if the word count doesn’t end in a 0 or a 5, I look to add enough words so that it will. I add around 100-200 more words this way though because it’s actually tough for me to add just 2 or 3 words at a time, I always end up writing more. Sometimes, I also apply to this to the total word count on the site too.
- Update NaNo’s Word Counter frequently. Speaking of which, I find a great deal of motivation from updating the word counter on the NaNoWriMo site. Usually I start with updating every 100-500 words, but then as I sprint or get into the rhythm of things, it’ll switch to updating the count every 500-1000 words.
- Make Buddies on NaNo and Keep Up! I like to make random active buddies on the site, not necessarily to talk with, but to have a small spot where I can look at other people’s word counts. Trying to keep with the top 2-3 buddies and match their word counts, I find that eventually I surpass them, but then in a couple days, I’ll be back down in word count if I’m not keeping up. It’s like paying attention to the fellow runners in the race and setting yourself a goal to reach based on those markers. Just don’t pay attention to those writers who start out with 50k or more~
- Eyes on the Prize! Even if I’ve fallen behind by a few thousand, I can always make it up with a really awesome sprint. Instead of getting despondent by how far I’ve fallen behind, I focus on making efforts to climbing towards my goal count regardless. Every little word counts, literally!
- Remember YOU wanted to do this! If I’m very despondent, I’ll remind myself that the only person that got me into this whole writing mess is myself. With a snap decision, I can drop it all.. but that’s not what I really want to do, otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen to participate in the first place. So, reminding myself that it is my own investment in myself helps lessen the pressure of making those word counts. In the end, when it comes to writing progress and development (if you’re not already an established writer with a rigid reader base), then no one cares, but you… and that can be very freeing! At least, it is for me.
- PLAY! RELAX! LET GO! At the most desperate points of wanting to write, but struggling, I allow myself to play and do whatever it is my mind wants to focus on at the time. Within this play, and not worrying myself about the count, within 24-48 hours, I find that I gravitate back to writing naturally.
Bonus Tip: Even if I fall behind or don’t get any word-count done, I see these situations as great opportunities to practice self-compassion with myself during November. Combined with #11, still accepting and loving myself becomes the focus. If you’re like me with #12 and find that in your natural, relaxed state, you’re drawn to writing anyways, it also becomes an exercise in moderating and understanding the uselessness of tension and worry.
I like to remind myself that despite a growing movement of thought that writing is mechanical (which, typing is), that I am not a machine, nor am I some kind of Writer-Bot-3000 and for me, writing is more like dancing. Dancing is also a technical act. I was a dancer for years and it is the closest parallel to writing that I can think of.
When a dancer feels the music and is into it, it shows through the performance compared to when a dancer is just following the moves and not actually into it or wanting to dance a different genre of music. It shows.
The same goes for my writing, when I’m into it and flowing compared to when I’m forcing a technical act of typing… it shows and I can definitely feel the difference.
Anyways, hope some of these tip/tricks help with some people getting to that 50,000!,