A Survival Guide to NaNoWriMo
Gird your loins! The 19th Annual NaNoWriMo writing marathon is upon us. For those unacquainted, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is an annual writing marathon runs throughout the month of November. Whether you are a seasoned author or someone who hasn’t written a sentence longer than a tweet, NaNoWriMo encourages anyone and everyone who loves to write to participate. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. It all begins at 12:00 am on November 1 and ends at 11:59 pm on November 30. Here’s how to make NaNoWriMo work for you.
Not sure how to prepare to tackle a challenge like this? The book No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days is a good place to start. NaNoWriMo creator Chris Baty wrote the book to motivate NaNoWriMo participants and other writers to stop stressing and get writing. The official NaNoWriMo website Nanowrimo.org also has tons of resources to inspire authors new and old to write.
Here are a few basic tips to help you reach your word goal!
Get ahead on your word count during the first week
Writing 50,000 words in 30 days may seem like an impossible feat, but when you break it down it averages to about 1,667 words a day or 2-3 hours of writing each day. Combat this by starting early and strong and to get ahead of your daily word count during the first week while your enthusiasm is high. It will help make up for falling behind in the third or fourth week which will inevitably happen as your ardor to write starts to wane.
Attend or host writing meet-ups
Having other writers around you helps keep your own creative momentum going, and other writers can give you suggestions and ideas for settings, names, and even plot points if you find yourself feeling stuck. They can also provide what every writer wants – feedback! Many Bookmans stores are hosting NaNoWriMo writers throughout the month! If you’re in Tucson, you can head to Bookmans Midtown, Bookmans East, or Bookmans Northwest. Bookmans Flagstaff is also providing a space for writers to get their NaNoWriMo on.
There are “official” local NaNoWriMo meet-ups organized by Municipal Liaisons (ML) which are posted in the local forums on Nanowrimo.org. You can also challenge friends to try NaNoWriMo with you and write in a group of your own creation.
It’s very important that you don’t waste precious marathon writing hours editing. This is going to be extremely hard for some of you writers. There will be plenty of time after the marathon is over to fix things. The point of NaNoWriMo is to get to 50,000 words, not necessarily 50,000 well-written words. The quality doesn’t matter; you’re just trying to get down as much of the story as possible in 30 days.
Accept that your story is going to be, well, crap
Your NaNoWriMo story is probably going to be lacking whether you’re a professional or an amateur – but that doesn’t mean you should give up doing it. Like any marathon, the reasons we push ourselves past the finish line has less to do with finishing first than it does with finishing at all. NaNoWriMo is no different. The goal is to challenge yourself to finish, not to create a polished novel in 30 days. If you finish the marathon and decide you like your story, you’ll have plenty of time to edit it after. For now, JUST WRITE!
Ready to get started? Sign up at Nanowrimo.org to track your word count as you go, see how well your fellow writers and friends are doing, submit your completed novel for word count verification, and browse the forums to see what events your local ML’s have cooked up to help you get to 50,000 words!
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