It’s October which means all over the world writers are gearing up for NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s a project with a basic aim – during the month of November enthusiastic writers from across the globe set themselves the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in a single month. (Some crazy people set themselves 100,000 word challenges and other seemingly unattainable goals but let’s just leave them off to the side, shall we?)
Here is the link to the official site http://nanowrimo.org/
In 2012 I wrote a series of blog posts on how to prepare for this epic event. If you haven’t read them they cover topics such as like plotting, meal preparation, eliminating distractions and even exercise.
Part 1 – Plan Your Writing
Part 2 – Plan Your Life for NaNoWriMo
Part 3 – Plan the month of Writing – or tips to
Part 4 – Plan to Care for your Body ( A Guest post from physiotherapist & author Terri Green)
This year I have a few more suggestions I’d like to make. I completed NaNoWriMo again last year and it was kind of rough. The reasons for that were many and varied but largely I ignored my own advice and made things harder for myself than they needed to be.
Here are a few general tried and true tips that I think you should follow even if you don’t go read my other highly detailed posts.
1. This is not the time to genre hop.
If you think you’d like to write an epic fantasy but you don’t have a plot and you usually write sweet romances, chances are you will fail. You’ll stall, you won’t have structures or the habits you’re used to using to fall back on. Write what you know how to write. (I didn’t do this last year and while I did finish there is no way that novel is even a little bit salvageable).
2. Do some planning.
I don’t mean a detailed plot map, unless that’s how you usually roll, but have a think about your story in the coming weeks. Have a beginning in mind, gather a cast of characters in your imagination and get some vision together. It will make it easier.
3. Get Ahead.
If you can get even a little bit ahead it seems to bode well for success. Tell yourself it’s 2,000 words a day not 1677, even that really helps. If you can while that story is fresh and you’re feeling it hit that word count hard the first few days. This year 1st November is a Friday. Make that weekend count. If you can really get a good start then you will be set up for a good month.
4. Every day counts – make that every minute.
The fifteen minutes you usually waste waiting at the school gate sitting in the car, your lunch break (right I know, no one gets an hour anymore), the ten minutes you have while you wait for the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook now all have value. You can maybe squeeze out a few hundred words during each…that might be half your daily word count. Set a timer and do a sprint for 15 minutes or half an hour, you’ll be amazed how many words you generate. This small blocks of time we usually waste really keen make a big difference to your NaNoWriMo success or failure.
5. Get a support crew
It’s often recommended you tell everyone your writing a book this November. (I don’t hold with that necessarily because people don’t seem to care overly, you may spend valuable time explaining this to someone you barely know and you just won’t get that time back and let’s face it they probably think it’s a nutty pursuit.)
I recommend you tell all the people that matter. For me this has two prongs. So to me that means tell the people you live with because they need to know and they can help you or hinder you. Tell your friend who you know will drop past wanting to have a coffee/ a wine/ a whinge or talk about themselves ad nauseum (not that I have any friends like that). Tell that person on the committee you refused to assist on that you still can’t help. You get the idea.
Basically, tell people who will want time you don’t have so that they understand why you’re distracted and you can say “Hey, remember I’m doing this write a novel in a month thing, can we maybe see a movie in December”.
And tell your cheerleaders – your husband or boyfriend who wants you to succeed, tell your writing buddies so you can have them call to check on you and you can discuss plot holes, writers block and all the people who want to suck your time. These are the people who will keep your bottom in the chair (“Don’t move, I’ll make dinner” or “Let’s do a writing sprint – go!) and who you need in your corner so you need to tell them.
6. Have fun
Writing is fun (sometimes/usually). Setting out to write a book in a month (well a first draft anyway) is a silly idea, it’s a fanciful notion so enjoy the whimsy of it.
We’re so sensible and grown up most of the time. We keep our feet firmly planted here in a reality made up of jobs and mortgages, of orthodontist visits, carpools and spreadsheets. We’re polite to people who probably don’t deserve it and we put our needs aside for others.
This November enjoying the art of make believe. Relish the opportunity to create a new world full of new characters and adventures. Celebrate the idea that you can have new ideas and take chances all without leaving the comfort of your keyboard.
10/14/2013 12:21:16 pm
Great tips. I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo the last couple of years & failed both times… must get more organised for this year!
10/14/2013 03:02:40 pm
Excellent advice, Monique! I am a NaNoWriMo virgin but will be popping my cherry this year – definitely with your advice!
10/14/2013 03:50:07 pm
Melissa I really think organisation and planning are the keys to success.
10/14/2013 03:50:46 pm
Sarah Belle we can cheer each other along!
10/28/2015 05:25:15 am
Love these idea, and so helpful, too. This is my first year attempting NaNoWriMo and while I have my novel somewhat mapped and my characters profiled, etc., the idea of writing, and producing, each day is rather daunting. Scary, actually. I love that you said that it’s a silly idea. Because it is. But it’s also kind of a brilliant, too. Cheers and happy writing.
10/29/2015 04:27:06 pm
Good luck Cinthia. If you want to buddy up on the NaNo site let me know. It is silly but also lots of fun.
10/28/2015 05:52:38 am
Thanks for the advice – this will be my 3rd year, and I’m hoping a different approach might let me win this time!
10/29/2015 04:27:49 pm
I’m sure you’ll win this time…think of all you learned from the last experiences…you’ll nail it!
Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
10/28/2015 08:48:26 am
I definitely think the key to NaNoWriMo is having your ducks in a row by November 1. Outline, plan, plot. And then WRITE your tail off! It’s so much fun. But I do wonder who chose November as the month. Ugh! Such a busy time of the year.
10/29/2015 04:29:57 pm
November is actually a good month for me…and I like ending the year on a writing high…
10/28/2015 09:35:57 am
Love these tips, especially about getting ahead and making the small bits of time count. Thanks, from a first time NaNo-er!
10/29/2015 04:28:43 pm
One thing I love about NaNo actually is it holds a mirror up to how much time we waste…not a bad reminder for us writers.
10/29/2015 04:30:24 pm
Good luck!!!! You can do it.
10/28/2015 03:17:09 pm
Great tips! I’ve only done Nano once, but I finished, and that book eventually got turned into “Rescue Me, Maybe.” One of these days I’d like to do it again – but, man, it’s tough! Best of luck to you!
10/28/2015 04:43:30 pm
I’m not genre hopping, but writing a YA romance instead of adult 🙂
10/29/2015 03:24:39 am
That sounds like a lot of hard work and a lot of fun 🙂 Thanks for the great advice. Will have to give it a try one day!
10/29/2015 04:16:05 pm
I lol’d at “I ignored my own advice”.
I’ve not done NaNo, but your tips are awesome.
10/29/2015 04:29:19 pm
10/24/2016 03:23:05 pm
Fabulous post chock full of informative tips for getting a jump start on NaNo and crossing the finish line. I especially like the tips about getting ahead when we can. You never know when you won’t be able to write on a certain day, so getting ahead really helps. And even those 15-30 minute increments add up. I’ve written some of my best work while waiting on kids to finish soccer practice or waiting for them to come out to the car at one place or another. I have complete solitude and nothing like a television to distract me and usually no one to interrupt me. Thanks for sharing your suggestions. I wanted to let you know that when I clicked on the links you provided for more NaNo tips ( you’d written in previous years or maybe from other bloggers- not sure now) the links didn’t work. It could be a problem on my end. I don’t know if anyone else had the same problem. I got one of those 404 page messages. Just thought you would want to know, in case you need to fix a broken link. I’m sure everyone else is as eager as I am to read more of your helpful ideas and tips. Thanks again and good luck with NaNo this year.