It’s almost November, which means it’s also time for people to begin NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. While I have never attempted NaNoWriMo (November is always a very busy month for me, and I have to put other things first), I did write 50,000 words earlier this year in July’s Camp NaNo, so I do have a bit of experience with the process. Also, I have read around it a fair amount, as I thought it sounded quite intimidating, and wanted advice for approaching it. Now I thought it would be fun to write a post myself on tips for completing NaNoWriMo.
- Do a bit of planning beforehand. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, I think it makes sense to at least have a rough idea of where your story’s going. It could be as minimal as naming your characters and planning the first chapter, or as in depth as planning out every single chapter in depth, but writing 50k words will definitely be easy if you’re not starting from square one on day one.
- Break it up. Plan roughly how many words you want to write in a day, as this will make it feel more manageable. Personally, the idea of writing 50,000 words in a month is a little bit terrifying. Writing just under 1700 words a day sounds a lot less scary.
- Get ahead when you can. If you’ve planned to write exactly 1667 words a day for 30 days and no more, you’re going to have a problem if something comes up or overruns and suddenly you don’t have much time as you thought. On the days where you have a spare hour, use it wisely and write.
- Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. The idea of NaNoWriMo isn’t to write a perfect novel in 30 days, it’s to write something and get you started. Jodi Picoult said that “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page,” which I think is perfect advice in this instance. Resist the urge to go back and edit, and focus on powering forward – save the editing for December.
- Don’t stress too much. While it is cool to finish, not to mention a mass achievement, it’s not the end of the world if it escapes your grasp, and you absolutely shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself. At the end of the day, your wellbeing and existing commitments should come first. And at least you will have written something!
- Don’t despair if it doesn’t work out. NaNoWriMo happens annually, so you can always try again next year – and if 50,000 is simply too much to fit into your schedule, try Camp NaNo in April or July. I did 50,000 words in Camp NaNo, but you can actually choose your goals and set something that you think will be manageable for you.
This is the advice that I thought was important for anyone attempting NaNoWriMo this year! Are you going to have a go? What advice would you give?