Personally, I’ve been winging it this first time around. I don’t really know what I’m doing, so I’ve asked a super talented writer friend who has some experience behind her how she prepares for NaNoWriMo. Chynna Laird has graciously agreed to share her words of wisdom with me. Take it away Chynna!
When I started my first novel, I was told by a few publisher and editor friends that it takes about a year to create a ‘publishable’ book. That’s from the first word typed, through the editing process, and finally having it wait for consideration on the top of an Acquisitions Editor’s pile. It can be a long journey. But guess what? You can write a book in less than a year. In fact, I’ve written two novels in less than a month! How, you ask? Dedication, organization, focus and setting small, reasonable goals.
NaNoWriMo gives writers and authors-in-the-waiting a chance to get that story that’s keeping them up at night, out for the world to enjoy. The challenge is that the novel has to be written in a month. Thirty days. Impossible, you say? Difficult, maybe, but nothing is impossible.
I’ve managed to complete two novels during NaNo, both of which have been published (Out Of Sync and Dark Water). Now, I’m the sort of writer who gets an idea, then types like mad for a few weeks and I’m done. So for me, the time frame for NaNo wasn’t a problem. But it kept me more in line because I had to complete a daily word count goal in order to stay on track. I’m not saying it’s easy by any means of the stretch. Like many other writers out there life often gets in the way, interfering with those daily goals. But here are a few tips that might help you make that 50,000 word mark:
Dedication: Like when trying to reach any goal, you have to start with the commitment to do it, which is the easy part. The more difficult part is sticking with it. Attempting to write 50,000 words in such a short period of time is no small task. Just keep reminding yourself that you are doing it not only for the challenge but more because in the end, you’ll have a completed story. And that’s something that many writers haven’t done, even without the time restraint.
Organization: The most important thing I found in participating in NaNo is making sure everything is organized. You need to have your idea, and it’s also a good idea to have a story plan. Next, you figure out your daily word count goal you need to reach in order to stay on track. The daily minimum would be around 1667 words (50000 words/30 days in November). Some days you may be able to write more, some less but if you see that as your bare minimum, you’ll be off to a great start. The final and most important thing is to set aside time to write each day. Again, it may not work for everyone to be able to have the same time to work each day. For those of us with children and other activities, you may have to get up early one day but have to write at night the next. Just be sure to slot some of that time in each day for those 1667 words.
Setting smaller, reasonable goals: As mentioned above, it’s important to have a daily word count goal in order to stay on track. Even the 1667 words may seem overwhelming to some writers. The trick is to know what you can handle on certain days. There may be days where you get ‘stuck’ on a certain scene and be unable to continue. That’s okay! Stop when you feel frustrated, do something else for awhile then go back to it with a clear head. Forcing yourself to go on when the inspiration just isn’t there will only make you want to give up. Do what you can, when you can (even if you have to have a few short writing spots throughout the day rather than one long one) is key.
Focus: One of the main reasons many people drop out of NaNo is because they lose their focus. It could be due to anything from feeling uninspired to write one day to writer’s block. The best way to battle loss of focus is to have a strong support network. Lean on writer friends, find your local NaNoWriMo group, call on family and close friends to cheer you on and keep you going.
These are only a few of the ways to help prepare you for NaNoWriMo. Two other important tips I was given were: a) have your favorite beverage and snack of choice on hand. That goes without saying. And, b) have fun!
Thanks so much Chynna! I hope I can keep my head clear and follow your advice to meet my goal. 😀
Have you completed NaNoWriMo? What tips do you have? Did you not quite meet your goals? What do you think you could do differently the next time around (because you know you’ve got to try again, right 😉 )?