The time is near. One week away, to be exact. National Novel Writing Month (affectionately referred to as “NaNoWriMo”) begins on Wednesday, November 01st, 2017, and writers everywhere are freaking out.
What is NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo is an annual writing challenge that runs from November 01st-30th. The goal? To write 50,000 words of a manuscript within those thirty days…which is the minimum length requirement for a standard novel (20,000-49,999 grants you a novella in the writing world). In order to hit this goal, writers are encouraged to write 1667 words each day to stay on track. It sounds easy. Some days, it is. But overall, it is a daunting challenge with a high reward.
As the author of two published novels with multiple NaNoWriMo cycles under her belt, I have provided some tips and advice for your own 2017 NaNoWriMo run, in order to achieve the best results.
- Prep early. Don’t sit down in front of a blank document on November 01st and expect words of wisdom to start flowing from your fingertips. Maybe they will. Likely, they will not. In the days leading up to NaNoWriMo, prepare the basic information for your novel. Who are the main characters? What are they like? Where is the setting? Is this Sci-Fi, romance, dramedy, etc.? Will this be a one-shot, or part of a series? Take out a sheet of paper and scribble this all down beforehand. It will make it easier to hit the ground running next week.
- Consider writing early. It is not forbidden to continue on a novel when November 01st hits. Many novelists use NaNoWriMo to generate a great push for their current project. As long as you exclude any previously written words from your final word count, there is nothing wrong from continuing on a pre-existing project. As such, I highly recommend starting to write your novel NOW. Yes. Now. Sometimes, the hardest part of writing a novel is getting started. As you flesh out your characters and their worlds, there are lots of places to get stuck. Churn out a few chapters now, and it’ll make your life easier next week.
- To outline, or not to outline? Some authors pen every single detail before they even write “Chapter One” on their page. Other authors refuse to pen anything in advance and let their novel come to life as it will. Many authors are like me, and will write down the main endgame of the novel, a few details of the main climax, and the main character’s backgrounds. Other than that, I let my characters build the story on their own, and I am just here to type the words as needed. This factors into the last point. Outline what you need to in advance. Don’t spend the first day of NaNoWriMo drafting up your outline. That’s how you fall behind! Speaking of which…
- Try to stay ahead of the curve. Again, it is recommended to aim for 1667 words each day of November in order to meet your goal. But what about those days where you have ample free time and are on a writing spree? Take advantage of those days and keep writing! End your day with 2500 words! You’re ahead :) Also, plan for days where you cannot write. I have a wedding to attend on November 05th and another on November 18th. I am a bridesmaid in both of these weddings, so I already know that I only have twenty-eight days maximum to write for NaNoWriMo. I need to write as much as possible leading up to these dates so that two days of little to no writing won’t hurt me. But what if I can’t keep up?
- Don’t give up! Let’s say that you can’t start writing until November 03rd. Or you’re 10,000 words behind on November 15th. Or it’s November 29th and you’re clocking in at 42,000 words. Is it time to call it quits? HECK NO! The goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t bragging rights (although those are nice). The goal is to walk away with a manuscript. Both of my novels are over 75,000 words in length. That means that trying to write them during a NaNoWriMo cycle still wouldn’t leave me with a completed manuscript. But it would leave me with a huge chunk of manuscript to start shopping around. Even if you’re clocking in a 7,000 words when all is said and done…7,000 is better than zero. Keep writing until that clock hits midnight on December 01st, congratulate yourself for all of your hard work, and then keep writing and polishing your new novel!
I also highly recommend gathering the following tools to help you with your NaNoWriMo experience:
- The Grammarly plugin for your writing software.
- Writing buddies also participating in NaNoWriMo to keep you motivated.
- A writing app on your phone for writing on the go.
- Tea or coffee, for those late night hours.
- A positive attitude :)
I will be down in the trenches with you guys this year, working on my third novel, Accidental Vampire! Feel free to add me on NaNoWriMo for moral support!