I am a huge fan of NaNoWriMo. I have done it five times and each of those drafts has gone on to be a published novel. Writing fifty thousand words in thirty days does seem like utter madness, but I’m here to tell you that it is totally doable – and you will get so much out of taking part.
- Sign up
Sign up to the website, NaNoWriMo.org, ahead of the 1st November start date so that you can familiarise yourself with the site, make the most of their resources and link up with buddies – see next tip…
Your buddies will help to keep you motivated and get you through the bumpy days. Find your fellow writers and link with them as buddies on the NaNo site, where you will be able to track each other’s progress. I have a competitive streak, so I find this really motivating and frequently do a few more lines just to equal a friend’s word count.
- Daily habit
You have to write every day or virtually every day to stay on track. And because you write every day, the story is right at the front of your mind, so you just pick up where you were and carry on writing. This is a great habit to get into because after NaNo you can keep doing this.
- Finding time
Think ahead now as to where you can free up time each day in November to write. Make time – maybe give up a TV programme or give an outing a miss or getting up early works well for some people. Step away from social media, leave the cleaning and delegate the cooking. Identify your time stealers and banish them for November.
I’m a bit of a planner – okay, I’m quite obsessive about it, so I am always going to say that planning is a good thing, but even if you’re a pantser (i.e. someone who writes without a plan) you need to do some prep for NaNo. Otherwise you may find you’ll grind to a halt part way through. It doesn’t have to be excessive, but an understanding of characters and key plot points will definitely help.
Cook ahead and freeze it, buy in fish fingers and easy meals. A vitamin supplement will see nobody comes to any serious harm through eating too much toast.
- Don’t get stuck
November will be tough but don’t give up. If things start to feel sluggish try some new techniques like the Pomodoro method – where you write for 25 mins and then have a 5 min break and repeat, repeat, repeat. Use your buddies – arrange to have writing sprints. Take scheduled breaks that replenish you like a walk or some other form of exercise and then get back to it. Your word count will be up, and your personal hygiene will be down but you will be making progress.
- Don’t edit
You don’t have time to read through what you’ve written and get caught up in typos and making each sentence sound lovely. Edits come later. NaNo is about getting those words down as fast as you can.
- Get ready to write
By this I mean, get your head in the right place. Block out the other things and get focussed on writing. Make sure you have whatever you need – be it post-it notes, new pencils or a lucky troll doll – get it ready now!
You will make it to the end of November and even if you don’t hit the 50k goal you will likely have written more words in 30 days than you have ever done before. Now you need to make sure that you do something with it. Finish the story, edit it into shape and submit it. Good luck!