So even though the timing is kind of weird, and I’m already in the middle of another novel, I have decided (at the last minute) to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) anyway. Originally I was going to participate informally and use November to write a full-length play. But then I was listening to my new favorite podcast, Pub(lishing) Crawl, (go check them out!) and they were talking about how NaNoWriMo is a great time to write a retelling because you will already have a basic plot structure in place. Of course, I got a random idea in the middle of the night the other night, and now I’m really motivated to write it.
To “win” NaNoWriMo, you technically have to write 50,000 words (which is on the short side for a novel, but a novel nonetheless). This is roughly 1667 words a day if you space things out. Now, I think no matter how many words you write, if NaNoWriMo causes you to write anything, you’re a winner in my book. However, if you really want to get that golden sticker, here are a few tips.
1. Schedule daily writing time. You are going to be more successful if you carve out a time specifically for writing each day. It might be first thing in the morning. It might be when you get home from work. It might be before bed. It might be during your lunch hour. Whatever it is, find the time that works best for you and stick to it, even if it’s only a 20 minute block. Obviously, you will have to write for longer than 20 minutes a day to get to 50,000 words in 30 days, but make sure you do your 20 minutes at the specified time every day, and fill in the rest of the time wherever you can.
2. Let your friends, family, roommates, etc. know what you are doing. Tell the people in your life that you are writing a novel this month. There are certain family obligations most of us have during Thanksgiving and we also don’t want to be completely antisocial, but you should at least mention that now is not a great month to go out partying every night. Your loved ones will support you!
3. Find a workspace that makes you productive. Some people work best in a quiet office. Some people work best in a chatty cafe. Some people work best at a table in the kitchen in the middle of chaos. Find the space that will help you to be the most productive. Switch it up and write in different places if that is helpful.
4. Take care of yourself. Don’t stay up all night every night typing away. Don’t forget to eat lunch. Take a break when you need to. If you are in the middle of writing, whenever you come to a stopping point, get up, walk around, do a Scottish jig, whatever. Just get your blood flowing. NaNoWriMo is not a time to binge watch TV shows every single night, but if you love TV, squeeze in shows where you can. It’s okay to watch TV, read, watch movies, etc. throughout the month. Sometimes this can even be productive because it gives you a break from the world of your story so that when you return you will come to it with fresh eyes.
5. Participate in community activities. There are some really great ways to get involved. In a blog post from earlier this month, 5 Things to Do to Prepare for National Novel Writing Month, I talked about all of the resources available on the NaNoWriMo website. Check those out! Use the forums to connect with other writers. See if there is a local chapter of NaNoWriMo writers you can meet up with for a writing session. The word sprints on Twitter are especially helpful.
6. Get pumped up! You need a lot of motivation and drive to get through NaNoWriMo so spend the rest of this week pumping yourself up. Make a playlist on Spotify or iTunes that makes you want to write, that reminds you of your characters. Watch some of the project #writetube videos! (Project #writetube is a video series organized by Tamara Woods where 12 YouTubers created videos about writing in preparation for NaNoWriMo – You can watch my video here or check out the whole playlist!) Read some writing blogs or writing craft books. Read a book in your favorite genre that will inspire you to write. However you want to get yourself pumped up, do it!
7. Don’t. Stop. Writing. This is the single most important way to win NaNoWriMo. Don’t stop writing. If you get stuck, keep going. You can skip that scene and go to the next scene you know how to write. (Check out my post about how to get un-stuck.) You can make funny notes to yourself like *insert witty dialogue here*. You can write something REALLY AWFUL and fix it later. Whatever you do, just keep writing!
For those of you who are interested in #writetube, I will be participating in a live Google hangouts with Tamara Woods tomorrow (Tuesday 10/27) night at 9 PM EST as well as some writers from the #writestuff community. So tune into Tamara’s channel to check that out! We will be talking all about NaNoWriMo!