NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.
November is National Novel Writing Month. Beginning in 1999, every year, writers gather together (primarily digitally but sometimes physically) to try and meet or exceed a word count goal of 50,000. What started as an exercise between a small group of friends has now ballooned into thousands of authors joining together to try to complete a novel in a month's time. While this blog usually focuses on the reading aspect of books — helping you find your next great read — instead, today we're focusing on the writing side and helping you have a successful NaNoWriMo.
Tip #1 - SET YOUR WORD GOAL. DIVIDE BY 30
Think about the story you want to tell and how many words you think it will take to do it, or use the suggested amount. Then take that number and divide by 30. However, divide by twenty-eight if you want to give yourself a bit of a buffer.
Example: 60,000 ÷ 30 = 2,000
60,000 ÷ 28 ≈ 2,143
Not a fan of working backward? Try thinking about how many words you think you can reasonably write in a day, then multiply that by thirty.
Example: 2345 × 30 = 70,350
Remember to treat the number of words per day as an average. There will be certain days when you end up writing less. There will undoubtedly be days when you write more. Your daily word count goal keeps you in the neighborhood of where you need to be to finish on target.
Tip #2 - WRITE, DON'T EDIT
It can be very challenging not to self-edit and even proofread as you go, but the objective here is to get words on the page! Let the ideas flow! Who cares if it's not the perfect turn of phrase or if your vocabulary is a bit repetitive? Give yourself grace as a writer and a human being. There will be plenty of time to go back and refine your work. This brings us to the next tip, which is...
Tip #3 - TAKE IT OLD SCHOOL
There's something about pen and paper that's magical. If you find that you've been paid a visit from every writer's old nemesis, writer's block, try writing out what you're thinking, then typing it up. This is also great for those who can't help but edit when they write. By physically writing something out and then typing it up, you will inevitably find errors in your work that need correction. This admittedly isn't the best strategy if you're short on time, but it beats staring at a cursor and an empty page.
However, the real point of this tip is to switch it up from your norm. So if you usually write with pen and paper, consider sitting down at a keyboard or typing a couple of paragraphs on your phone, tablet, etc.
Tip #4 - MIX IT UP
If that raggedy writer's block is still hanging around, it's okay to skip to the good part. Even if it's not rearing its ugly head, it's still okay to fast-forward to the juicy bits. Writing does not have to be linear. If you are stuck or starting to feel like it's getting monotonous, skip it. You can come back to it, or throw away the whole thing. Instead, reinvigorate yourself and your writing with a part of the story you are passionate it about. Stories need a beginning, middle, and end, but that doesn't mean you have to write them that way.
There are no rules. Read that again. There. Are. No. Rules.
Tip #5 - REWORK YOUR GOALS
As was stated in the last tip, there are no rules, which means there's no penalty for changing where your finish line is. Yes, technically, there's an official number to get to (50K), but you are the only person you're competing against. Maybe you tell the story you need to in fewer words than you thought. Perhaps you were possessed with a spirit of longiloquence that makes you blow right past your initial target. You could find yourself falling behind your daily word count goals in what you feel is a substantial way. Nothing about this exercise is written in stone, so rework it to work for you!
Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Would you try? Have any tips of your own? Comment below!
NaNoWriMo runs from November 1 - November 30. For more information, visit www.nanowrimo.org