Sooo, it’s officially Nanowrimo–National Novel Writing Month! It’s that period of time when writers from all over the world gather around the Christmas tree and exchange presents while being grateful for all of the–
Okay, no wait. Wrong holiday.
*clears throat* *starts again*
It’s National Novel Writing Month! That month where writers–new and seasoned, come together in the spirit of one goal and one goal only: Write a novel in a month.
Is this absolutely crazy? Yes.
Is this something that requires a ton of hard work? Yes.
Is this something that’s even possible? Hell yes. 🙂
For the past four or so years, I’ve joined in on this crazy mission, and while some years have gone far better than others, I’ve learned quite a bit. So, here are my top bits of advice for anyone brave + awesome enough to embark on this crazy ride:
1. Commit. (And then commit again and again whenever you find yourself waning.) Tell yourself that you are definitely going to give it your all every day in November–on good days, bad days, and even meh days. You will write every day. You. will. write. every. day. You may not achieve your desired word count every day, but you will *write* no matter what.
2. Set realistic goals, and write them down. Nanowrimo calls for a 50,000 word novel in thirty days, but if you write slower than the minimum (1667 words a day) then no worries! Set your own Nanowrimo goal and commit to that. The ultimate goal here, to me, anyway, is to get in the habit of writing every day. If you do that throughout November, you win. 🙂
2a. If you do write faster than the minimum, challenge yourself to do a little bit more. Or, if you want to *try* writing faster than the minimum, I highly recommend this book: 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. It’s a pretty fast paced + super fun read.
3. Remember that scheduling is your friend. Try to write around the same time every day or carve the same amount of time out for your writing every day. Doing so helps you get into a routine and prevents your mind from getting distracted with things that won’t help you achieve your goal.
4. Limit social media & the internet in general. No, really. Pick a certain amount of minutes you will use the internet per day and stick to it. You won’t miss anything that’s happening in author world, but just in case you think you might be, allow me to give you a huge spoiler alert for everything that will happen in November in author-land: An author will release a pretty cover with a great blurb. Awesome readers will swoon over it. The book will release and readers will read it and swoon over it more. This will probably happen every day for the rest of the month. 🙂
Personal example: For Nanowrimo, I vow to only use social media/internet for an hour a day, but I can only use 15 minutes at a time. Whatever doesn’t get addressed within that timeframe has to wait until the next 15 minutes, and whatever doesn’t get done within my hour for the day has to wait until tomorrow. #noexcuses #noexceptions
I also try to preschedule my page and check in shortly after the posts go live so I can say “hello” to the awesome people who are brave enough to follow me. I try not to linger for too long, though. Because I know that deep down, what they really want is my next book 🙂
5. Connect with other writers. (Yes, without the internet 🙂 ) Whenever you get a chance, try using the nanowrimo website and joining the region/city group closest to you. They usually have a schedule posted where the weekly meet-ups will be, and if you’ve never attempted to write a chapter in an IHOP at midnight with a group of other writers, you have not truly lived yet, my friend. 🙂
6. Remember that you’re striving for progress, not perfection. If you write 50,000 words in a month, I can guarantee that they’re probably not your *best* words, but that’s okay! This is only the first draft! You have all of December + more to fine tune your nano-baby into a full blown novel that’s awesome. So, don’t get hung up on awkward sentences, imperfect scenes, or dialogue that needs a bit more style. Keep writing, keep writing, keep writing. (Edit later.)
7. Take breaks. Lots of breaks. If your story isn’t working at any point, or if you’re getting frustrated or down about your progress, shut down your computer and walk away for a while. Pick up a book, watch an episode of a show, take a short walk outside, anything. Do whatever you can for a half hour or an hour to clear your mind, and then return to your novel with a different frame of mind.
7a. Also, try not to pull *too* many all-nighters for this during November. I mean, unless they start handing out free-Starbucks-for-life vouchers for completing this 50k thing, there’s no point in making yourself miserable over it 🙂
8. Have fucking fun and know that just by participating in this, you’re doing something amazing. Something most people can’t/won’t ever attempt to do. That said, you are not a “failure” if you don’t hit 50k by the end of November, and you’re not an “elitist” if you do hit 50k by the end of November. This is about consistency and commitment–nothing more, nothing less, and you should do your best to enjoy the hell out of every single word you write.
Because you’re going to want to do this all over again next year anyway 🙂