With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) fast approaching, now is the time to prepare for the marathon writing season.
You’ve heard of NaNoWriMo of course. It’s that time of year when many authors try to write an entire novel – yes an entire novel – in the space of 30 days. Is it possible? I know people who have written a novel during November so, yes, it is possible.
But you have to be organized, prepared and know how to persevere. NaNoWriMo isn’t an effort for wusses. It’s hard work trying to write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. Damn hard work.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Plan for #NaNoWriMo in October via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Plan for #NaNoWriMo in October “]
I once tried but gave up. (Confession: It was really a nonfiction book.) So there, I admit it. But you know what? I didn’t prepare and wasn’t clear on my objective. So from my experience and those whom I know, I offer the following advice.
- Plan for November: In October, pick a novel idea (note the play on words). Then try to write an outline and some character sketches. If you aren’t accustomed to writing outlines, jot down ideas on Post-Its and arrange them according to how your story will advance. Now is the time to register with NaNoWriMo.org too. And if you write historical fiction, do your research during October.
- Select your partners: Believe me when I tell you that you will need writing partners. When you sit down to write with people, you will feel a level of energy that you won’t have writing alone in your office or at your dinner table. Plus, if you have writing partners and as a group you agree to meet at certain places on certain days of the week, you’ll stick to your plan. On the days when you don’t meet, find places to write where there will be other NaNoWriMo writers. You’ll find these groups on the NaNoWriMo.org website.
- Don’t edit: Do not edit during the month of November. If you’re anything like me, this will be difficult. (I like to make corrections as I write. Horrible and senseless habit.) If you try to revise during November, you won’t reach your goal of 50,000 words. So forget about punctuation and bad grammar and poor spelling. Just write!
- Carefully organize your work: To reach your goal, you’ll need to write 1,667 words every day. Of course, some days you may write more and others less so make sure that if you don’t write 1,667 words on Monday, for example, that on Tuesday you write even more. 1,667 words a day is the average you need to write.
- Start each day with a plan: Before ending each writing session, write the first sentence that you’ll start with the following day. Let this sentence act as a writing prompt. You don’t really have to use that sentence if the next day you decide that you hate it. Just end each day with a prompt or starting place for the next.
- Use social media: Now you may think that social media would be one colossal waste of time during this period. But it isn’t as long as you use it strategically. Use the #NaNoWriMo hashtag on Twitter to report in how many words you’ve written. Find virtual writing partners to keep yourself going and committed and for virtual support. Use the hashtag #WritingBlitz to report in if you wrote 2,667 words or more in one sitting. Use the hashtag #WritePrompt to get you going on those days when you don’t know how to start. In effect, use social media for support. It’s okay to brag about your accomplishments once in a while too. After all, NaNoWriMo is kind of a big deal.
- Stay motivated: It’s very easy to give up. I know this from personal experience. Do everything you possibly can to stay motivated. Talk with other authors. Try new writing spaces. Eat chocolate. Treat yourself to a great glass of wine when you reach a new milestone. Think of the end product.
- Write extra words: Admit it now. You probably won’t be writing on Thanksgiving day if you live in the U.S. and have to cook. So on some days, write a little more or even a lot more. Prepare for times when you’ll have a cold and feel so miserable that all you’ll want to do is watch a romantic comedy and drink honey and tea or brandy and milk. Just allow for days when the thought of being in NaNoWriMo makes you want to cry. So anticipate days when you won’t feel like writing and in fact, won’t write. One friend of mine planned to finish early and for that easy wrote more than 1,667 words a day.
- Consider a routine: We all have routines in our lives, right? We get up and then drink our coffee. We eat and then brush our teeth and floss. Then we go to the gym. Whatever. Maybe you meditate every morning or do yoga every day. Now’s the time to develop a writing habit. Without one you may not successfully get through NaNoWriMo. So create a routine and then stick to it. Who knows? This may become your writing routine for life. Wouldn’t that be cool?
- Writing block: November isn’t the time for a writing block. What can you do if one strikes? Take a hike – literally. Or attend a yoga class at your gym. I find that walking outdoors is the best tonic to get my creative juices flowing. The fresh air, green trees – ah – it’s like magic.
- Bonus tip: Don’t forget to relax from time to time. Book a massage. Go to Costco and sit in one of their massage chairs. Do something to relax and give yourself a treat. When you reach your milestones, whatever they might be, treat yourself to a great bottle of wine or champagne or whiskey. Or flowers. And be extra kind to yourself. You’ll get through this!
Author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including the 2nd edition of Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.
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