As the third week of National Novel Writing Month (or, NaNoWriMo for short) draws to a close, the month is now officially halfway over, so that means your novel should be halfway finished by now. Are you there yet?
For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a non-profit, Internet-based creative writing project that is focused on stories, creativity, and art. Started in 2012, NaNoWriMo annually challenges writers of all expertise to start and finish their novel during the month of November. It breaks the process down into achievable goals so that the feat doesn’t seem so daunting. Participants need to write 50,000 words (NaNoWriMo’s minimum word count for a novel) from November 1 through November 30—which divides it into roughly 1,667 words a day. Not so bad, is it?
Writing a novel takes time, of course, and focus, and to write that novel in only one month takes an incredible amount of perseverance. What makes NaNoWriMo so different is that it takes the fear and apprehension out of the process and gives writers an attainable goal.
Whether or not you sign up and actively participate on the website or simply follow their outlined schedule, by the end of the month, if you stay focused, you will have a completed first draft of your novel. However, you must be sure to have these essential components, otherwise the month will be a bust.
Seems obvious enough, right? Wrong. You’d be surprised how many writers sit down, begin to write, and find out they have absolutely no idea where the characters or the story is going. You can’t just “go with the flow” when it comes to writing a book. To ensure a productive and successful NaNoWriMo, make sure you have a solidified plot for your story. It will make those 1,667 words a day fly by.
Again, seems obvious. However, unless you quit your day job to focus entirely on your writing (congrats, if you have), then you’ll need to schedule some time to get in that daily word count, and that can be the hardest part. Choose a time of day where you feel the most relaxed and focused—if you’re too busy worrying about an upcoming meeting or what you’re going to make for dinner, you won’t be efficient. Maybe that time is early morning, after your first cup of coffee. Or, maybe it’s late at night, once everyone else in the house has gone to bed. Make sure whenever you choose to write that it’s right for you.
What inspires you to write? Is it your favorite book? Is there a particular album or song that gets your creative juices flowing every time? Do you absolutely need a cup of tea next to you in order to get stuff done? Figure out what gets you in the mood to write and go for it. Your mind needs to be in the right place in order to produce fine work. If you have the plot and you have the time, but you don’t have the inspiration, it’s all for naught.
This month will be intense. Make sure your family, significant other, roommate, pets—whoever you live with—understands this that way they can help you attain your goal. Whether it’s refilling your coffee, making sure you get something to eat during a particular intense writing session, or reading over a finished chapter, your loved ones will most certainly come in handy this month.
5. Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee
Hey, you have to keep your stamina up somehow!
When November is over, and you have your first draft of your novel, use the month of December to edit that draft. For tips on the editing process, read last last week’s blog, “3 Mistakes to Avoid While Editing.” After that, you know where to find us.