National Novel Writing Month

nanoSo, it’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month again. This year, as last year, I’m not fully prepared. I do not work with plot outlines, I draw timelines as I write, and I do research as I go along. I’m a stickler for facts, and if in doubt I’ll look it up. The exception being history, if I know I’m gonna work on anything historical I’ll do my research beforehand and make notes, but plotting the story before I start writing? Never. I tried that once. It didn’t work. Within an hour, my characters took over and ran riot. NaNo prep for me, is making sure I have enough coffee and chocolate in the house to keep me going.

Unlike last year, when I didn’t have the foggiest idea what I wanted to do until a day or so into November, this year I know exactly what I’m gonna write, and I’m excited about the project. That’s all I’m gonna say about it. I don’t particularly enjoy talking about works in progress.

While I can not give any pointers to help you prep for NaNo, I can talk about things that will help you through November.

You only have to write 1667 words a day
That may seem like a lot, but it’s really not. Currently, I write anywhere between 2000 and 5000 words a day. Last year though, 1667 words a day seemed like an almost impossible task. To make it easier, break your daily word requirement into chunks of 500 at a time. Get up an hour earlier and write 600 words, 500 during your lunch break, and another 600 before bed.

Just write
Don’t worry about getting it “just right” – perfection is nearly impossible anyway. You can worry about ‘nearly perfect’ during the editing phase. In November, your goal is to write, write, write – forget about spelling mistakes, syntax, grammar, tenses and whatever else the English language throws at you. After November, there will be enough time to go back and fix it (never use the backspace button).

Find a writing buddy
I love writing with my buddies. I enjoy talking to them, running ideas by them, sharing my work with them, finding encouragement and sharing my goals for the novel with like-minded people. Remember, to return everything they do for you in kind. If you ask them to read and give an opinion, also read their work and give them an opinion. You can’t do this with everyone, of course, but find one or two WriMos you connect with, so you can carry each other through. You may even build a lasting relationship with a fellow WriMo that extends well beyond November and NaNo. There are plenty of forums on the NaNo site where you can find writing buddies, encouragement, help, etc.

If you fall behind, do a few sprints
So let’s say you didn’t write for a few days, or didn’t make your daily word count and you’ve fallen woefully behind. Do a word sprint or two (NaNo has a few of those throughout the day, every day), or just do them with a writing buddy. A word sprint is writing as many words as you can, within a certain amount of time (usually 15 – 30 minutes). They are fun, and forces you to stop thinking and just write.

If you don’t make it, don’t despair
Everyone writes at their own pace. If you reach the end of November, and you didn’t make it to 50 000 words, don’t worry. 13 000, 20 000 or 45 000 words are still better than no words at all.

To all my WriMos – good luck! To those who haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for? Come join the madness, and have some fun. You never know, that novel you pen during November might be the ‘next big thing’!

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