NaNoWriMo (or to the uninitiated ‘National Novel Writing Month’) kicks off at the beginning of November. So what’s it all about?
Well, the aim is to write write write for the entire month,
working towards a total word count of 50,000. I’ve never yet made it all the
way to 50k words (I think my maximum output has been around 25,000) but knowing
I’m writing alongside other NaNoWriMo writers really spurs me on.
This year, I’ll be using NaNoWriMo as a way to kick start
the first draft of the second novel in the Haven Chronicles series.
October is all about getting my chapter plan complete so I’m
ready to start writing on 1st November.
If you fancy having a go at NaNoWriMo yourself, here are my
top tips to survive the month:
1. Plan your book
I don’t necessarily mean have a complete chapter plan to hand before you dive in, but having a brief sketch of the main points of your novel – main character, antagonist, setting, beginning and end – can really help.
2. Decide when you will write
If you already have a regular writing slot, then brilliant,
carry on with that. If you don’t write regularly though, it might be best to
put some thought into when you will write during the month of November. What’s
realistic? Remember, you still have to eat, sleep, go to work, wash, walk the
dog, or whatever else your life entails.
3. Decide where you will write
Do you have a place that you always use for writing or does
it tend to shift? Will you have access to a quiet corner to write each day in
November? Do you need quiet? Maybe headphones will help, or perhaps you
like to write to a level of noise and hubbub. Will you type, write by hand or
dictate? You might want to set up a writing station for the month, even if it’s
a mobile writing station to work around the rest of the household.
4. Warn your family and friends
Let them know how important the month is to you and that you
may not be as readily available as normal. It might be that during your time
slot, you don’t answer your phone or check social media and emails. If people
know in advance that you’re not to be disturbed during a particular time slot
in the day or evening, then things will probably run much more smoothly.
5. Gag your internal editor
I know, I know, sometimes it’s just too tempting to check
back over your writing and give it a little tweak. Don’t. That isn’t what
NaNoWriMo is about. Write, write and write some more. Keep your editorial demon
happy with the thought that once the month is over, there’ll be a whole load of
material to edit.
6. Make some NaNoWriMo buddies
Just because you’re head down writing like a maniac this
month doesn’t mean that you have to do it alone. Chat with the members of your
Home Region (for me, that’s Wales), connect with your real-life buddies who are
also taking part in NaNoWriMo, or have your say in the online forums. There are
virtual write-ins and word sprints to take part in too.
7. Don’t let the word count distract you
Don’t get hung up on continually entering your word count into the NaNoWriMo website and checking how everyone else is doing. Of course, all NaNoWrimers know what the minimum word count is to reach the magical 50k (1,667 per day). Use that as a rough guide but when you’re sat at your writing station during your writing slot, just write.