It's October which means all over the world writers are gearing up for NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It's a project with a basic aim - during the month of November enthusiastic writers from across the globe set themselves the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in a single month. (Some crazy people set themselves 100,000 word challenges and other seemingly unattainable goals but let's just leave them off to the side, shall we?)
Here is the link to the official site http://nanowrimo.org/
In 2012 I wrote a series of blog posts on how to prepare for this epic event. If you haven't read them they cover topics such as like plotting, meal preparation, eliminating distractions and even exercise.
Part 1 - Plan Your Writing
Part 2 - Plan Your Life for NaNoWriMo
Part 3 - Plan the month of Writing - or tips to
Part 4 - Plan to Care for your Body ( A Guest post from physiotherapist & author Terri Green)
This year I have a few more suggestions I'd like to make. I completed NaNoWriMo again last year and it was kind of rough. The reasons for that were many and varied but largely I ignored my own advice and made things harder for myself than they needed to be.
Here are a few general tried and true tips that I think you should follow even if you don't go read my other highly detailed posts.
1. This is not the time to genre hop.
If you think you'd like to write an epic fantasy but you don't have a plot and you usually write sweet romances, chances are you will fail. You'll stall, you won't have structures or the habits you're used to using to fall back on. Write what you know how to write. (I didn't do this last year and while I did finish there is no way that novel is even a little bit salvageable).
2. Do some planning.
I don't mean a detailed plot map, unless that's how you usually roll, but have a think about your story in the coming weeks. Have a beginning in mind, gather a cast of characters in your imagination and get some vision together. It will make it easier.
3. Get Ahead.
If you can get even a little bit ahead it seems to bode well for success. Tell yourself it's 2,000 words a day not 1677, even that really helps. If you can while that story is fresh and you're feeling it hit that word count hard the first few days. This year 1st November is a Friday. Make that weekend count. If you can really get a good start then you will be set up for a good month.
4. Every day counts - make that every minute.
The fifteen minutes you usually waste waiting at the school gate sitting in the car, your lunch break (right I know, no one gets an hour anymore), the ten minutes you have while you wait for the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook now all have value. You can maybe squeeze out a few hundred words during each...that might be half your daily word count. Set a timer and do a sprint for 15 minutes or half an hour, you'll be amazed how many words you generate. This small blocks of time we usually waste really keen make a big difference to your NaNoWriMo success or failure.
5. Get a support crew
It's often recommended you tell everyone your writing a book this November. (I don't hold with that necessarily because people don't seem to care overly, you may spend valuable time explaining this to someone you barely know and you just won't get that time back and let's face it they probably think it's a nutty pursuit.)
I recommend you tell all the people that matter. For me this has two prongs. So to me that means tell the people you live with because they need to know and they can help you or hinder you. Tell your friend who you know will drop past wanting to have a coffee/ a wine/ a whinge or talk about themselves ad nauseum (not that I have any friends like that). Tell that person on the committee you refused to assist on that you still can't help. You get the idea.
Basically, tell people who will want time you don't have so that they understand why you're distracted and you can say "Hey, remember I'm doing this write a novel in a month thing, can we maybe see a movie in December".
And tell your cheerleaders - your husband or boyfriend who wants you to succeed, tell your writing buddies so you can have them call to check on you and you can discuss plot holes, writers block and all the people who want to suck your time. These are the people who will keep your bottom in the chair ("Don't move, I'll make dinner" or "Let's do a writing sprint - go!) and who you need in your corner so you need to tell them.
6. Have fun
Writing is fun (sometimes/usually). Setting out to write a book in a month (well a first draft anyway) is a silly idea, it's a fanciful notion so enjoy the whimsy of it.
We're so sensible and grown up most of the time. We keep our feet firmly planted here in a reality made up of jobs and mortgages, of orthodontist visits, carpools and spread sheets. We're polite to people who probably don't deserve it and we put our needs aside for others.
This November enjoying the art of make believe. Relish the opportunity to create a new world full of new characters and adventures. Celebrate the idea that you can have new ideas and take chances all without leaving the comfort of your keyboard.
I am a writer of light-hearted contemporary women's fiction.
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