Only a Fool
NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month — an event where writers all over the world attempt to do what professionals generally take months, years, and even decades to accomplish: write a novel.
The official goal is to write 50,000 words in November. 1,667 words a day, 30 days in a row.
If you ask me, it’s borderline foolish. Especially if you don’t prepare.
But it can be worth it.
Should You Participate?
NaNo can significantly boost productivity if done correctly. Here’s a simple flow chart to help you decide if this event is right for you.
If you have even 30 minutes a day, I’d recommend joining the party. Lower your goal to something more reasonable for your current circumstances and stick to it! You’d be amazed at what 30 minutes of writing for 30 days in a row can yield.
How to Succeed
Succeeding in NaNoWriMo requires simple prep-work, a system for making time to write, and a whole lot of perseverance.
The Prep Work
If you’re a Plotter, you likely have your own system for planning a novel. Make sure it’s completed before November 1. Pansters, here’s what I recommend for prep:
Find a character that intrigues you and drop them into a premise that excites you.
I also recommend daydreaming throughout the day and thinking of possible routes you want to take with the story. Just having that rough skeleton will help when you sit down to knock out those first 1,667 words at the start of this coming month.
Some people sneak out of bed every day before the earliest bird has its worm so they can reach their word count before work. Some type quietly in the guest room as the candles slowly burns into the night. Others like me find random pockets during the commute, while we eat lunch, or after the kids are in bed. There’s no ‘right’ system except that which works for you. Try a few things, settle into a routine, and stick to it.
This is going to be a difficult task. Few complete it. My advice: prepare to succeed, but know that writing 30,000 words in one month is still amazing. You’re not a failure any other month for cranking out 20,000 words, why should this month be any different?
The whole point of this is to make progress on a novel, to focus your efforts more than any other time of the year. If you do it without ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo, you’ve still succeeded.
Here are some other ways to improve your NaNo experience.
- Tell friends and family you’re participating (as a warning to them and for accountability).
- Convince a writing buddy to do it with you.
- Don’t neglect reading books you enjoy.
- Don’t neglect your sanity.
- If you’re ahead, STAY AHEAD. Don’t skip a day unless you have to.
- Ignore editing until December.
A Note to Writers Currently Editing: I recommend participating in NaNoEdMo — National Novel Editing Month (I thought I made the term up, but apparently it exists). The goal here is to edit for 50 hours during the month.
This is a fun yet grueling time. Remember to keep the end goal in sight: make progress, make progress, and make progress — no matter how ‘trivial’.