November is close approaching, and with it, NaNoWriMo returns for another year of torturously fast productivity as authors all across the globe participate in a one month long challenge to write a novel. A full novel in a month! That’s a lot. Not even Stephen King could do that. (Could he?)
But let’s assume that you are a newcomer to the wonderful chaos of NaNoWriMo. Writing a novel in a month. How does one go about accomplishing such a task?
For starters, NaNoWriMo considers a novel to be 50,000 words. If you break it down, you have 30 days to write 50,000 words, which means that you would have to write 1,666 words a day. Wow, what a demonic number for such hellishly grueling work. But hey, if you signed up for NaNo, chances are good you’re already pretty masochistic to begin with. I don’t even want to know what you all do for fun. Fix spelling errors? Edit things? Oh the horror.
All joking aside, NaNoWriMo is a great exercise in discipline, giving you the tools and motivation to put your creativity to work and actually put some action behind your dreams of whimsy. You can collaborate with others from around the world, or meet up with local writers in your area for what NaNo-bots like to call “write-ins”. The site also gives you plenty of tools and resources, like word counters, award badges, daily motivational reminders, and much more.
But do you just jump right in without any prepwork? What needs to be done before November 1st to ensure a successful NaNo-run? Well, the only real thing that is needed is a whole lot of hard work, but there are a few extra things you can do before the fateful month hits.
Make an Outline
If you are going to write a novel in a month, it stands to reason that it would be helpful to know what it’s about, right? By making a preliminary outline, you can have a guideline throughout the month to reference back to if you get lost. And even if you don’t stick to the outline, it’s nice to have one there in case you enter panic mode, decide to scratch everything you have, and start over.
Find a Network of Supporters Online
A challenge is always more fun with some friendly competition. A network of supporters will give you an extra boost of motivation for the days you just don’t feel like writing anything. (Also, side note, just because it is suggested you have to write 1,666 words a day doesn’t mean you have to. Hell, you could write the whole 50,000 words on the last day of the month if you are really committed). Your friends can cheer you on, or the jealousy you feel when they finish their 50,000 fourteen days ahead of schedule will fuel your fire to get it done too.
Think About Your Story
Maybe this point should go above “Make an Outline”, as the two go hand in hand, but another great prep is to sit down and have a good long think about what you want to write. Allow your imagination to run rampant ahead of time so that you can hit all your dead ends early and switch up failed plot points before you get down to the writing. Because when the clock is ticking, it’s often stressful to have to go back and rewrite the whole story because you didn’t give it much thought.
Need some advice on how to build a fictitious world? Check out: World Building For Beginners
Complete All Extraneous Tasks So You Can Focus
You have laundry to do, and bills to pay. You need to reorganize your kitchen and don’t forget about those holes in the ceiling you have to patch…These are all distractions that, during the month of November, could be the difference between victory and…not. Get all of this stuff handled before the 1st of November so you can be easy breasy with nothing on your plate but a big wad of wordsmithing.
NaNoWriMo, while a challenge, is still supposed to be fun. Don’t let it interfere with real life issues, and don’t take it too seriously. It’s really just a way to test yourself and see what sort of determination and endurance you have. Just like running a marathon, yeah, it’s a lot and many people question the necessity of such a hefty workload, but the challenge is the point. I would not recommend taking the pace you write with in NaNoWriMo and making it your normal writing pace. You should take your time with your writing.
Feeling stuck or burnt out? Check out: 5 Tips to Avoid Writer’s Burn-Out
So, are you going to be participating this year?
The Literary Kat