You’ve heard a lot of crazy things about writing in November. I mean, it’s October, and most writers can’t stop talking about it (I know I can’t). So you looked into it – maybe you asked a friend, maybe you Googled it – and discovered the details. Or maybe you haven’t looked into it much at all, but you do love writing, and you’re intrigued.
So what is this “NaNoWriMo” thing, anyway?
NaNoWriMo / National Novel Writing Month
My definition: A yearly event, taking place in November, in which writers all over the world write a 50,000-word novel in only 30 days.
Official definition (from National Novel Writing Month on Wikipedia): [NaNoWriMo] is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November.
50,000 words? In THIRTY DAYS?!
It’s terrifying. When I first heard of it, I laughed: my writing schedule, at the time, consisted of writing 7,000 words per week. A whole novel seemed impossible.
But guess what? NaNo completely changed the way I write.
The prospect is scary, sure: it isn’t hard to be intimidated by something as big as this. And, to be honest, every writer who is partaking in NaNo this year is scared. We’re afraid of failure. Yes, even those of us who have been here for years.
And yet, we still show up. Year after year. Why? Because NaNoWriMo is a magical thing. It’s a beautiful, terrifying, proud, and incredible month. And you are going to own it.
So what do you need to know before you get started?
11 Things You Should Know Before Beginning NaNo:
- You’ll get excited on that first day.
No matter how frightened you are beforehand, you will definitely get overexcited on November 1st. You’ll reach your daily WC (word count) with ease, and you’ll be itching for more, and you may even begin your next chapter. Pro tip: to tame your first-day excitement, try beginning with both a prologue and a first chapter. Even if you delete the prologue later, you’ll be feeding your hunger to write constantly without getting too ahead of yourself. (There’s nothing wrong with getting ahead, though! It’s actually a good thing, especially if you have a busy day coming up and you doubt you will have the time to write.)
- The daily WC is only 1,667.
Take it one day at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day. Just focus on today, and remember that the daily WC is only 1,667. One chapter a day (or a chapter every other day, if you want longer chapters). You can do this.
- You won’t reach your daily WC every day.
On November 2nd last year, I had to make a trip that lasted all day. Spoiler alert: I didn’t get a single word in that day. And that’s okay. So what if you didn’t get any of those badges for submitting words five days in a row? You’re writing an entire novel in 30 days. The virtual badges pale next to that. It isn’t hard to catch up once you’re behind, either, which brings us to the next point:
- Take advantage of word sprints. (And make them fun!)
What are word sprints? Essentially, you set a timer for any desired amount of time (I usually do about 10-15 minutes), plant yourself in a chair, and write nonstop until the timer makes its little beeping sound. It’s a wild few minutes, but it’s also wildly effective if you’re behind on your WC. To make these lil’ suckers fun, keep track of how many words you can write in a certain amount of time, and try to beat previous records! If you have friends that do NaNo, try doing word sprints together for twice the fun. (Can you beat your best buddy at writing in 15 minutes? There’s only one way to find out!)
- Don’t have time for 50,000? No problem, my friend.
Lives are crazy. Between work, school,
Netflix,and family and friends, it’s hard to find the time to write the daily 1,667. Don’t sweat it, you’ve got another option!
Try ywp.nanowrimo.com. Even if you aren’t a young writer, there is no shame in joining the YWP. Why? As a YWP member, you can choose your WC goal! Hooray for loopholes!
- First drafts are supposed to suck.
That’s the beauty of first drafts. You don’t have to worry about what’s going wrong now, and fix it later. (I had to give up a large part of the perfectionist in me last year.) Drink a cup of coffee, put your booty in that chair, and keep going. Hey, that last chapter was horrible. So what?
- Don’t just write at home.
#1 cure for writers block: leave the house. Bring your laptop, or even just a notebook. Chill at Starbucks. Sit out on your front porch. Under an oak tree. In the school halls. In the neighbor’s horse barn. (Okay, maybe not that last one. Unless you’re really cool with your neighbors.) And guess what? Sometimes, even in the most rural places you can find, you won’t write more than 400 words. But do we care? Nope.
- Forget the rules.
As a writer, you’re supposed to break the rules. Every writer (or person, for that matter) does things differently: while your friend may swear by the use of a Thesaurus, you could find it more natural to use your own words. Some people might be claiming “said is dead,” while you quietly disagree. Don’t let other writers’ rules and standards get in your way of writing a novel.
- Prep is your best friend.
Check [this post] for how to successfully Prep your novel. 😉
- NaNo is a HUGE publishing opportunity.
I got published for the first time through NaNo nearly two years ago. I can’t give all the details of it, but they offer great opportunities down there at NaNo, and it’s an incredible place to get started on becoming an “author” instead of just a “writer.” But, even if you don’t want to publish, that’s okay! It’s 100% optional, so don’t worry about it. 🙂
- You. Can. Do. This.
I’m gonna let you in on a secret: for a writer, there is nothing more satisfying than leaning back in your chair on December 1st, gazing at your crappy novel with a tired smile. The only thing I can think of that tops it is holding a printed copy of said novel. If you can do NaNo, you’re on top of the world. Suddenly, you can do anything. And you can’t wait for next year.
Ready to Get Started?
Check [here] for more.
Have any questions? Need an opinion or a critique? Please don’t hesitate to ask at any time before or even during NaNoWriMo! Comment with a link to your NaNo profile, or just with an excerpt of what you need critiqued. I’m always here to help! 🙂 Good luck, Wrimos!