For the past two years, I have written all 50,000 words required to win NaNoWriMo on the first day, usually taking almost the entirety of the first twenty four hours. The first time that I did it, it was to win a bet in glorious fashion, but it’s like a drug. Once you feel that rush, then you want it again, even when you tell yourself you don’t.
And also like a drug, it’s better when your friends do them with you, but you want to walk them through the first time or two, to help them enjoy it as much as you do. You don’t want them having a bad trip from the moment go and swearing off of it forever, now do you?
#50kOne of us. #50kOne of us. #50kOne of us.
So, to make your day easier (but nowhere close to easy (though, why you would want it to be is beyond me – you’re in it for the challenge and the thrill (disclaimer: I like parenthesis))), I’m going to present you with what I have learned from my previous attempts.
- Most of all, have something that you’re excited about writing. Think of this like your friends: you’re going to spend twenty four hours locked in the same room with someone, having to stare at them and do things with them, with no escape. Even good friends can become annoying at that point, so starting with more excitement is a good thing.
- Get sleep the day before. When I get home from work on the 31st, I immediately take as long of a nap as possible, using benadryl to knock myself out if I need to. The reason is that you won’t have much time for sleeping the next day, and every hour you sleep is 2083 words that you have to make up. In fact, all activities start to become cast in terms of words. Dinner? 500 words. Travel to a write in? Maybe 1000 round trip.
- You are never ahead enough. Ever. I always start strong, and write more than I need to for the first 3-4 hours with no problem, giving me a cushion. Every hour after that I skirt the line of where I should be, and tend to get loopy and slow down towards the end of the night. Also, there are hours when I don’t write (see #2), so it helps.
- Food: you need it. And not just sugary shit that will zoom up your energy level and then crash it again, but food that sticks with you but is easy and quick to make. Fruit is a big plus, and I tend to like an egg and biscuit breakfast. Yes, I have candy and cookies and such, but you’re not going to survive on that alone.
- Have a caffeine game plan. You’re going to get tired, but try to keep your caffeine intake even. Fun fact: caffeine doesn’t wake you up, it just keeps you from getting tired again. Drink it when you don’t need it so it’s there when you need it. But please, don’t do anything that will make your heart explode.
- Recruit your friends. Because crazy is best shared, we all peak at different times, and can encourage each other through this madness.
- Reward yourself. I always have a bottle of champagne chilling, ready to pop when I hit 50k (normally around 11:45pm). When you get there, do something good for yourself to celebrate. You’ve earned it!
- Watch your wrists. 50,000 words is a lot to write in the day, both on the mind and on the wrists. Watch for pain, and adjust when you feel it. Put your keyboard at a different height, improve your posture, something. Don’t damage yourself doing this. (If you have longer to prepare, ergonomic keyboards and Dvorak can both be lifesavers).
- Most of all, have fun. Whether or not you “win”, you will have given yourself an amazing start to NaNoWriMo, and have participated in one of the craziest events that you can. Patch yourself on the back, and then go the fuck to sleep. You’ve earned it
So that’s it. That’s my big advice. If you’re doing this, good luck! I’ll be on twitter (@TravisMHicks), and probably in the Overachiever Chat Room. On twitter, look for the hash tags: #50kDayOne, #50kKillMeNow, and #50kOneOfUs.
Let’s do this!