Hey guys! Kate here and today I’m writing about something terrifying lurking on the horizon…
As October approaches, a small pit of anxiety grows in every writer’s belly. At the beginning of the Halloween season, it’s merely a niggling tickle at the back of your brain, but as the days pass the feeling grows stronger and stronger until it overwhelms your entire being and you finally must ask yourself that annual dreaded question: to NaNoWriMo or to not NaNoWriMo?
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, an activity that brings together writers from across the world, regardless of genre, style, or skill level. The object is write a novel in a month—in other words, complete 50,000 words in thirty days. This is an intimidating prospect for most any writer, but that’s why it builds such a tight community. Stick almost 400, 000 stressed writers in the same boat for a month, and that’s bound to build a little solidarity.
But not only does NaNoWriMo build a tight community, it’s a great way to kick-start your novel. And isn’t that why you’re here? To write that goddamn novel that’s been burning inside you? Well, it’s only 1,667 words a day, so let’s get started. Here are your five tips for winning NaNoWriMo:
1.) Get your friends and family involved. As much as we love them, our friends and family members eat up a lot of our time. Warn them you’re going to be hermiting for thirty days. Be up front: “Dudes, I’d love to get drunk tonight, but I gotta write over a thousand words today.” Get them involved so they keep you accountable; share your dreams; brainstorm ideas with them. Last year, we convinced our dad to join NaNo and hung sheets on the fridge so we could show off our daily word count. If your family and friends feel like they are a critical part of your success, they’ll be less likely to distract you and more likely to encourage you…and forgive you if you ignore them for thirty days. Worse-case scenario, you can always get drunk and then write your 1,667 words! (All words are are good words, right?)
2.) Find a process that works for you. And by that, I mean make an outline. I know what you’re thinking…I thought this was about writing, not outlining! Well, settle down there, pantser, you can feel free to do your thing, but for something like NaNoWriMo where you don’t have the luxury of writer’s block, having an outline will keep you on track. Spend a couple days before November 1st creating an outline. For some, it may be detailed, every scene fleshed out. For others, you may just want a general map that you can fill-in-the-blanks along the way. Either way, the more prep work you do, the easier it is to stay on track and keep your mind focused on the last word.
3.) Utilize your online resources. There are amazing online resources out there for us writers! The first one is the official NaNoWriMo site, which is not only chock-full of tips, but also has a community for networking and encouraging each other, as well as a way to record your word count and let you know if you’re on track. The second is my favourite website of all time: Write or Die. If I ever publish a book, the creator of this is going in the acknowledgments. The web app is just a regular text box that let’s you set a word goal and a time goal. All you do is write. And if you stop writing…well, that’s where it gets interesting. I’ll let you guys do the exploring, but it’s definitely a resource I would recommend if you find you’re constantly clicking out of your word doc to check Facebook. Our third resource worth checking out is made for the iPad, so it’s portable, easy to use, and keeps you motivated. Novel in 30 let’s you easily see your word count and, if you have a Bluetooth keyboard, let’s you write anywhere.
4.) Don’t look back. How easy is it to get so wrapped up in what you’re writing that you don’t concentrated on the real writing itself? Oh, this sucks. That doesn’t sound good. I need a new word for that. I have to research this description. Editing is important, but for the first draft, you want to forget all that. Keep your eyes on the screen, your fingers on the keyboard. Don’t care if your description is clunky or your transition is awkward—you’ll fix all that later. NaNo is all about getting the words out of your head and onto the page. Let self-doubt take a bystand because you never know if that crap you’re writing will actually turn out to be a golden turd.
5.) Make writing a priority. You may be a student, a full-time worker, a parent, or whatever else…but you’re still a writer. November gives you a reason to embrace that part of yourself that’s often kept locked away because of your commitments to everything else. Well, for one month of the year, make writing a part of your life! Schedule it in—and keep to it. You want to write a novel, don’t you? Well, then you have to put one word in front of another, day after day after day. It’s as easy—and as hard—as that.
Hopefully these five tips have given you some confidence in order to embark on this amazing journey. Don’t worry; you’re not alone! Leah has won NaNoWriMo the last two years, but I’m a newbie, just like you! I have written over 50, 000 words in a month before, but this is the first time where I’m doing it as a community, as well as being a full-time student and working full-time.
We want you to keep us accountable so follow our NaNo accounts here:
Add us as a friend and we’ll add you back! And as an incentive to keep you motivated, we’re giving you the opportunity to win an awesome writing-themed gift bag! If you win NaNo, send us your NaNo link and we’ll enter you in a draw to win an awesome prize!
Happy writings, guys! Let us know what you think your novel is going to be about in the comments below!
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