If you are like me, with a myriad of writing friends spread out across a myriad of different social networks, the buzz word for October is NaNoWriMo. No matter the type of newsfeed, as November approaches friends are posting their intent to participate in National Novel Writing Month, complete with ideas on how to tackle the 50,000 words one must write to be successful.
Of course, 50,000 words is not an entire novel in most genres, but, the intent of NaNoWriMo is to dismiss the editor in your brain and write nonstop for the month of November. I will not be participating this year, but that doesn’t mean that I wont be cheerleading those that are undergoing the task.
The wonderful, incredible benefit for those of us that do Book-in-a-week, is that we already have the skills and the structure for a successful NaNo event. We already know what it means to put our butts in the chair, typing away madly; the hard part is keeping the momentum through the month; four weeks instead of one. But, as someone that has undergone the challenge, it can be done. My advice on how to do it is very similar to a lot of NaNo veterans, so I thought it would be interesting to post some different blog excerpts of those doling out advice.
Nephele Tempest is a literary agent for The Knight Agency, Inc. One of her latest posts, Ready to NaNo?, tackles the prep of NaNoWriMo. She suggests gathering your ideas regarding character, setting, character careers, and plot before the month begins. These pre-outline ideas are ones that many people tout for a successful month. Without a plan, it is much harder to come out the other end of November with 50,000 words.
Bob Mayer is a New York Times bestselling author and he is a wonderful source of information for a successful month. One of his posts, NaNoWriMo Tips, outlines a ton of ideas that will help when prepping for November, and during the month itself. He also has two posts about what he calls “the kernel idea“:
“The kernel idea is the Alpha and the Omega of your book. By that I mean it starts your creative process and it completes it. It is what you begin with and at the end of the manuscript, everything in the book points toward it.”
He talks of this idea being the excitement that keeps you writing, even past the 50,000 words required. The test of whether or not you have a kernel idea is if you can write out what your novel is about in 25 words or less. Once you can do that, keep it, as that snippet will move you forward when the steam starts to run out towards the end of your project.
Kristen Lamb is another bestselling author who writes blogs that are consistently funny and insightful. Her NaNo posts are all about inspiration, and there are several. In This Month, We Write IN HELL—To NaNo or Not to NaNo she tackles whether or not you should participate, to which she gives a resounding yes, citing that NaNo is a kind of training ground towards becoming a professional author:
“The trick to NaNo is to appreciate it’s PURPOSE. It’s to propel us out of the comfort zone and show us what we are truly capable of if we put our minds to something and refuse to give up. It’s training for the pace of professional author.”
Another lovely quote from Kristen:
“Want to be a writer? Write. That simple. Lose the existentialism. People who have time to discuss what makes a “real” writer have too much free time. The rest of us are busy writing. The single greatest thing NaNo makes us do is it propels us to sit our tails down and get to WORK.”
NaNoWriMo is really about getting words down. Come up with a plan, get an outline down, tack up your idea so you see it every day, and remember that this kind of writing is moving you forward. The more you write, the better you get, and the better you get, the more you will write. It is a lovely circle that this November challenge can kickstart into gear.
* Visit NaNoWriMo if you are up for a month long challenge