It is that time of year again: NaNoWriMo! For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, it stands for National Novel Writing Month which takes place annually every November on a global level. The goal is to write a 50,000 novel during the month of November. It is a great way to kick-start a new work-in-progress (WIP).
Helpful NaNoWriMo Suggestions
Break it Down
First, forget about the 50k word count. Break it down into smaller goals (see an excellent previous post on Nibble Writing by Heidi Hood to give you an idea) 50,000 words divided by 30 days equals about 1,667 words a day. That is what you need to write every day in order to be successful.
Keep Productivity Visible
Post a thirty day calendar to your wall and mark each day with both your goal and your actual word count (what you have actually written). For example:
Nov. 1st Goal: 1667, Actual: 1901
Nov. 2nd Goal 3334, Actual: 3400
Nov 3rd Goal: 5001, Actual: 6000
And so on and so forth. It will keep you on top of your daily targets and get you to your final goal of 50k by November 30th.
Keep it basic. All you need to do is write a 50 k rough draft of a novel. Nowhere in the rules does it say it has to be publication ready or even polished.
Focus Your Writing
Prepare. Prior to November 1st, write down five important points you want to cover in your novel, whether it be plot points, character descriptions or backstory. Review it a few times before the start date. Then when you sit down to write, you have a jumping off point for your novel.
If you are like me, you have been kicking your novel idea around in your head. You have given thought to characters, plot and dialogue. You need to gorge yourself of all of this onto paper, almost like stream-of-consciousness writing. Just get it out and get it down.
Do not edit. Do not rewrite. There simply is not enough time. Forget about misspelled words, omitted words, fragments, dangling participles and poor punctuation. Ignore plot problems, terrible dialogue and characters who won’t do what they are supposed to. These things are not your immediate concern; the re-writing and editing comes in December.
If you get stuck – and you probably will- take any thread of your plot and run with it; or go off on a totally different tangent. Trust your muse enough to let her take over and you might be pleasantly surprised at where you end up. I have heard countless stories about writers who used NaNoWriMo as a launch pad to publication.
Most of all, remember to have fun with it: there are no prizes, just the self-satisfaction of knowing you produced a 50k novel in one month and that when push came to shove, you were able to prove to yourself that you could do it.
* Visit NaNoWriMo to get started.