Gearing up for National Novel Writing Month
Somehow, it’s almost that time of year again. Brush off your laptops and pick up your pencils, because National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is nearly upon us.
For those new to National Novel Writing Month, it is a project that began ten years ago and has grown into an initiative where hundreds of thousands of writers across the globe attempt to write a new novel of 50,000 words in the month of November.
How did National Novel Writing Month start?
NaNoWriMo was founded by Chris Baty and twenty of his writing associates, which dares writers to produce a new novel (or the first draft of one) in a month. Over the years it has grown from twenty to hundreds of thousands of participants!
Thank goodness he did. NaNoWriMo has helped produce a whole bunch of brilliantly successful works, such as Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It even helped inspire our very own Novlr, which Thomas discusses in his blog post here.
What is National Novel Writing Month?
- Writing starts at 12:00: a.m. on November 1 and ends 11:59:59 p.m. on November 30, local time.
- No one is allowed to start early
- Novels must reach a minimum of 50,000 words before the end of November in order to win (of either a complete novel of 50,000 words or the first 50,000 words of a novel).
- Planning and extensive notes are permitted, but no material written before the November 1 start date can go into the body of the novel.
- Participants’ novels can be on any theme, genre of fiction, and language.
Attempting to write 50,000 words in 30 days is no easy feat. Before you commit to this challenge, you need to take a couple of steps to prepare yourself. There is no point in signing up, then realising on November 1st that you’ve got no ideas for character/plot; or you happen to be taking a month-long adventure holiday. Planning accordingly can help maximise the NaNoWriMo experience and help create some awesome work. Here are our top tricks and tips to help you prepare for National Novel Writing Month.
Three tips to get ready for NaNoWriMo
1. Sort Out Your Calendar
50,000 words is quite a lot for thirty days work, particularly if you have other responsibilities that take up a lot of time. You will need to average 1667 words per day so it it is important you manage your time and think realistically about when you can commit to writing. Be reasonable with what you set yourself to do. If you have days or weekends off, you might be able to bang out a large chunk of your word count. However, on a short bus or train-ride somewhere, you might only manage a hundred words or so. There’s nothing more disheartening than setting an unrealistic wordcount and failing to meet it.
Use the daily goals feature on Novlr to work out manageable objectives for you to complete. Conveniently, Novlr works both online and offline, meaning that it’s perfect for you to squash in segments of writing and meet your on-the-go quota.
2. Outline your plot
Attempting to generate a plot as you write might make you lose the plot. Take it from someone who consistently avoids planning – it rarely works out. Character planning for example: I can spend a good couple of hours on baby name sites alone. What a waste of time and words! Coming up with different character profiles and quirks beforehand will save you a whole host of time when November finally comes.
Novlr’s chapter and scene organisation capability section can also help you break down your plot into manageable pieces, giving your work a sense of direction.
3. Get ready to go unedited
Yes, I did just say what you thought I said. The whole point of National Novel Writing Month is to produce a large quantity of writing, a novel, that you can later refine into your masterpiece. It’s about getting the words down on the page. Luckily, with Novlr’s spell check and grammar enhancement features, you’re covered anyway with spelling and syntactic structure.
However, if you know that you’re particularly bad at nit-picking (join the club), it may be good to have a few practise attempts at free-writing before November begins. Free-writing is an exercise where you sit down for an allotted amount of time, anywhere between five minutes and an hour, and just write.
This writing can be focused, i.e. on a specific object or character, or you can simply let your thoughts meander and go where the mood takes you. The only caveat is that you aren’t allowed to edit the work until the month is done. When it’s written, it’s written.
Now that you’ve read my tips for NaNoWriMo preparation, there’s no excuse! You can sign up and join hundreds of thousands others right away. As sponsor, we are offering those who sign up a massive 40% off Novlr for a year. And for two years for those that complete it!
If you’re a NaNoWriMo veteran, let us know your best advice in the comments, or join the conversation on twitter.