NaNoWriMo Through a Pandemic
Can you believe it is already November? You know what that means. It’s NaNoWriMo time!
NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it is an annual writing marathon that runs throughout November. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, which began at 12:00 a.m. on November 1st and will end at 11:59 p.m. on November 30th. Whether you are an aspiring novelist or someone who hasn’t written a sentence outside of high school English class, NaNoWriMo encourages anyone and everyone to participate. Genre, quality, and experience don’t matter. The point is to get yourself writing as much as possible for 30 days.
Not sure how to prepare to take on a challenge like this? NaNoWriMo creator, Chris Baty, wrote the book, No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days, to motivate NaNo participants and other writers to stop stressing and get writing. The official website Nanowrimo.org has numerous resources to inspire writers, including writing tips, coaches, and community forums. The only rule to NaNoWriMo is that it has to be a novel, and you can’t start writing it until November 1st.
Here are a few 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 a day. If you start early and strong and 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 enthusiasm starts to wane.
Attend or host virtual writing meet-ups.
Writing with other writers may not seem like it would be beneficial when you’re all writing different stories, but having others around you can actually help keep your own creative momentum going. Other writers can give you suggestions and ideas for settings, names, and even plot points if you find yourself feeling stuck. And you can all do it over a video chat.
There are “official” local NaNoWriMo meet-ups organized by Municipal Liaisons (ML), which are posted in the local forums on Nanowrimo.org, or if you can convince a few friends to try Nano with you, you can create your own writing group. My writing group, Plot Hunters, meets once a week at a local coffee shop for a couple of hours of writing, and it’s beneficial in encouraging me to keep writing no matter how hard it gets.
This is going to be really hard for some of you, but you mustn’t waste precious marathon hours going back over what you’ve already written and editing. 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 crap.
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional novelist, your NaNoWriMo story is probably going to suck. That doesn’t mean you should give up doing it. The success of running a marathon has less to do with finishing first than finishing at all. NaNoWriMo is no different. The goal is to challenge yourself to finish, not to worry about the quality. If you actually like your story, you’ll have plenty of time to edit it after. For now, 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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