Smaller Goals for NaNoWriMo

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.

Polish Later

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.

Just Write

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.

No Editing

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.

Avoid Roadblocks

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.

Have Fun

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.

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Topic Links
* Visit NaNoWriMo to get started.

About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.

Writing Contests

Contests are not for everyone but if you are serious about writing then they are worth a calculated look. Think of them as a tool to further your career.

first prize blue ribbon contestAside from prizes, entering writing contests are good for three main reasons:

Deadlines

All contests have deadlines. It will teach you to polish your work in a specified amount of time. Think of it as a training ground for when you are published and have to meet your publisher’s deadlines.

Feedback

Sometimes judges will offer feedback. Feedback at any stage from any expert (fellow writer, agent, editor or publisher) is invaluable and makes it worth the nominal entry fee.

The Benefits

There is a benefit to not winning or placing in contests. If your work manages to make the short-list or it becomes a semi-finalist — you can now use this piece of info in your query. Your query is all about selling yourself and your work, so this accomplishment is one you want to promote.

Tips to Enter

Before you enter any contests, I would advise the following:

  • Read the rules.
  • Highlight the deadline.
  • Look at the fee.
  • Note the word count.
  • What rights are they asking for?
  • If you are able, find out what the past winning entries were, so you can get an idea of what a winning work looks like. Here in Ireland, they have the big Listowel Writers Week and they print an annual of the winners and its available in my library every year, including past years. Magazines will usually publish winning entries in a follow-up issue.
  • Find out who the judges are and investigate their background. If they are a writer, what kind of books do they write, same with a publisher or an editor.

Contest Recommendations

Finally, here are some contests worth entering:

Do not be put off by foreign competitions. In this day of the internet, most welcome submissions from abroad.

Plan your contest strategy like you would your writing. Set a goal for the number of contests you will enter each year (or month). Research each contest before you enter. Keep track of the ones you enter, what you submitted, notification dates and the outcomes.

Good luck!

About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.

November Writing Challenge

November is the official month of National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, where one attempts to write a novel of 50,000 words in the thirty days of November. When I participated a few years ago there were 120,000 participants worldwide.

For those of you that already take part in the BIAW challenge, NaNoWriMo could be seen as an extension of that. The only differences being that it takes place over a month, you have to reach the 50k limit and, unfortunately, there is no prize, except the satisfaction of knowing that you wrote a novel- albeit a short one- in 30 days.NaNoWriMo Stickers // Awards

The NaNoWriMo site will tell you that it’s about quantity and not quality. Creating the perfect novel isn’t the aim here, so forget about editing. Period. The goal is to write. And to keep writing everyday.

It works out to about 1667 words per day.I kept a daily log of my word goal (1667) and my cumulative goal to date and I found that it helped. 50,000 sounds like a lot but if you break it down to 1667 daily for 30 days, it doesn’t seem that formidable.

It’s amazing what you can create under that kind of pressure as I’m sure any one of you who’ve participated in the monthly BIAW- there maybe a lot of crap, but there are gems in there as well.

At the end of the month or whenever you cross the 50k finish line, you’re given instructions on how to encrypt your novel to send it NaNoWriMo so they can validate your word count.

I completed NaNoWriMo in 2008 and although it needed heavy editing, I had a story from start to finish; a rough, first draft. Last year, I fell short of the mark with 37k, however I had the beginning of my current WIP.

I hope to see you there. Leave me a comment if you’re doing it – I’m Miz B.

Visit the NaNoWriMo website for more information.

About Michele Brouder

After living for seven years in Ireland, former Buffalonian, Michele Brouder now calls Florida home. Her first book, a YA paranormal, is due to be published sometime in 2014 for Harlequin E, Harlequin’s new digital format. Learn more from her contributor page.