Every November, thousands of writers gather together online and in-person to take on the daunting task of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. It's easy to get discouraged, but you can hack NaNoWriMo by treating yo' self, and I've got a winning strategy that will keep you writing just to get that next awesome prize.
You remember those truly awful, classist fundraisers we did as kids? The ones where you got a magic bank for selling $35 worth of crappy chocolate and wrapping paper to your relatives? Hacking NaNoWriMo with treats is a lot like that. You're going to put in a lot of work for, well, not all that much reward. At the federal minimum wage, the hours it will take you to write 50,000 words — about 60 to 90, for the average person — will add up to somewhere around $550, which is really not a lot for a month of hard work, and is still far more money than your NaNoWriMo treats will be worth.
So why even do it? Well, if you want to write a book, you have to start writing and keep at it until your project is complete. That means doing whatever it takes to keep yourself in the writing habit. If you have to bribe or spoil yourself in order to get the words out of your head and onto the page, so be it.
I've included a six-step NaNoWriMo treat schedule below, but here's a caveat before we get to that: if you cannot afford to spend $200 or more to hack NaNoWriMo, that's OK. You can scale back your treats to something you want and don't have to put on a credit card. If my plan doesn't work for you, find something that does. Buy yourself boxes of chocolate in increasing sizes, check out new places in your city, or go fishing. Do something you love, then get back to the writing, because that's what's important.
Here's how to hack NaNoWriMo by treating yo' self.
1. At 1,667 Words, Buy Yourself a Beverage
Congratulations, WriMo, you've done your first day's worth of work. For that, you deserve a beverage of your choice. Crack open a beer, make yourself a cup of tea, or buy a tasty latte from that cute barista on the corner, and rest up for the days ahead.
2. At 5,000 Words, Buy Yourself Some Cute Stationery
Studio Oh! Notecard Set, Woodland Creatures, Boxed Set of 12, $12.95, Amazon
You've just completed 10 percent of your NaNoWriMo goal. Go you! Make your writing space look more ~writerly~ with a cute stationery set. Don't worry about getting a pen or some markers just yet, though, or you'll spoil the next few treats for yourself.
3. At 10,000 Words, Buy Yourself a New Book
Holy cow, the first fifth of your book just flew by, didn't it? Time to buy a new book, whichever one you want. Will it be a book on writing? A selection from your TBR? That classic book you've lied about reading for so many years? Whatever it is, go forth and conquer, WriMo.
4. At 25,000 Words, Buy Yourself a Nice Notebook
Leuchtturm1917 Notebook Medium (A5) Hardcover, €15.95, Leuchtturm1917
Hey, you're halfway to the finish line! Every writer needs a reliable notebook for when they get ideas on the go, but you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to jot down your notes in style. Find a notebook that works for you, and take it with you everywhere.
5. At 35,000 Words, Buy Yourself a Good Pen
LAMY Safari Fountain Pen, $37, LAMY
You're almost there! Time to make your transformation into an Actual Writer complete by giving up those cheap Bic pens you've been using for years. Invest in a stylish, refillable pen that will last you as long as your writing career.
6. At 50,000 Words, Buy Yourself a New eReader
Fire HD 8 Tablet, 32 GB, $119.99, Amazon
You're done! No, your novel isn't anywhere near being agent-ready, so stop Googling and take a break. Sit back, take a breath, and relax for the next month with an awesome new Kindle, loaded up with all the eBooks you didn't get to read in November.
Images: Deedle-Dee Productions; MorningbirdPhoto/Pixabay