Editor’s Note: I’m very excited to share this guest post by my friend and fellow writer Lauren. If you are thinking of participating in NaNoWriMo next month, Lauren’s got some excellent advice for you, and be sure to check out more of her writing on her blog Curbside Wanderings.
As the beginning of October arrives, I know I, for one, start to get extremely excited. Not only am I a BIG fan of Halloween and dressing up, it means the approach of November and NaNoWriMo is upon us.
National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, happens every November and asks its participants to test themselves by writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. Intense, right? As a two-time winner of the event, let me just say, it is very possible to get through it with your sanity intact.
With an average of 1,667 words a day (including Saturday and Sunday) it is more than a lot of writers do for many weeks, myself included. It tests writers by forcing them to pick a time every day to write. To write when the muse isn’t cooperative, to write when it’s a bad day, or to write when you have writer’s block is difficult but not impossible.
So, with enough time for writers to prepare for this crazy month, here are 10 tips and recommendations for beating NaNoWriMo!
- Let People Know You are Doing NaNoWriMo: This idea helps because people will not only know you are busy, but it will keep you accountable to hitting your word count. People will want to know how you are doing, and it will keep you honest and working.
- Remember, it’s just a first draft. Listen, everyone’s first draft sucks. There is no person alive whose first idea for a story was published as is. This event is not designed so that the story will be ready to send to publishers. Instead, this is a first draft where all the ideas just need to be put on paper.
- DON’T ERASE ANYTHING. Grammatical errors not included, do not go back on day three and erase half your novel unless you intend that day to write that much AND the day’s writing to get the word count where it needs to be. Deleting can set you back enough to stop you from getting to 50,000.
- Get a writing buddy/Go to a Write-In. This fits in with tip #1. Find a friend to do NaNoWriMo with. Personally, I’ve done a year with a friend and one without. The one with a friend was so much easier to get it done, and she also finished a winner! Write-Ins, or public places that are designated as NaNoWriMo writing places, are also going to be great places to go and write among others trying to hit their word counts.
- Beginning: find a way that works. Outlining? Jumping in cold turkey? Developed characters? Whatever way works to prepare you for NaNoWriMo, the time is now to get it done! If you are a planner, like myself, have an outline or idea so it can help when you run out of ideas or you are feeling the strain of getting the words done.
- Skip Around: Stuck at Chapter One about what Gertrude will do next? Go to Chapter Five where there is a big fight scene and start writing it all down. This will redirect your creativity and ideas in a positive way and help the story.
- Plan Ahead: NaNoWriMo always happens during the holidays. Don’t want to spend the whole day of Thanksgiving writing? Write ahead of the curve. Do you have a wedding or other planned event? Try and write ahead as much as possible to make sure you stay on track.
- Realize It’s Going to Be Difficult. The month will push you, and there will be times (for me, it usually happens around Day 4 or 5) when you will see the looming 50,000 words and think there’s no way you can get there. It’s possible. It just takes one word at a time and a commitment to writing the novel you’ve always wanted to write.
- Don’t Skip a Day. We all know when we say “I’ll do it tomorrow,” what we mean is “I’ll do it, maybe….” Each day averages out to be 1,667 words. When you skip a day, the total for the day doubles, and it takes more writing to catch up. It’s as if you are going up a hill that gets a little steeper every day until it’s impossible to get up.
- Editing Comes Later: The novel won’t be perfect, even when you hit 50,000 words. Don’t worry about the editing now. The NaNoWriMo website has a specific set of programs and sections to help writers begin the arduous process of editing.
For more help and word counters, check out the official website at https://nanowrimo.org, and good luck!