It’s that time of year again folks. For those of you that don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month where people from all over the world attempt to write an entire book – or 50,000 words – in a month. It’s great fun, great inspiration, but also incredibly difficult. So I’m here today to give you guys a few tips.
I have participated in Nano a few times, but always with my own goals. I typically do 1000 words a day which gives me 30,000 at the end of the month. I have won Nano a couple times and I have also failed miserably.
I believe that success in Nano comes with passion. If you are not super stoked about your project, you are not going to be able to crank out 50,000 words in a month. It’s just not possible. Pick something you can’t stop thinking about. My Nano failures can be attributed to this exact problem. I made myself work on one project when another was calling. Don’t do that. Do what you love.
You are also going to need a crap tonne of discipline. Writing 1,667 words a day for 30 days is not easy. You have to make time, not excuses. You have to prioritize your writing and ask yourself how much you want it. You have to make sacrifices. Minimize your screen time. This means less social media and less Netflix. Minimize your Friday nights out. Start saying no to people. It is not selfish to make time for yourself. Don’t ignore people completely though and definitely do take time to rest. You just have to take a good look at the areas in your life you can cut back on or the time you waste on meaningless things like scrolling aimlessly through Instagram. Harness that time; take it back. Make it work for you.
You need communication too, in order to make the most of that discipline. Let your family know what you’re doing, that you’re going to be being a little anti-social, that maybe you might forget to clean the bathroom. Ask them if they can do a little more of the chores in order to give you more writing time. See what comprises you can make, but make sure you let them know how important it is to you and how much you appreciate their support. Writing a book is quite the undertaking and it’s great to know that someone is there for you.
Speaking of, you should check out the writing community at large. I said to cut back on social media, I know, but Instagram is a great place to connect with fellow writers participating in Nanowrimo. Lots of people do live writing sprints and chats to help people with progress and inspiration. A writing sprint is where you do nothing but write for a short set period of time. Usually between 10-20 minutes. You check your word count before and after and see how you did. I find they are great for productivity. Live writing sprints help you be accountable, because other people are waiting to see how much you got done. They are also many resources and forums on the Nanowrimo website as well as lots of Youtube videos you can check out. Just don’t get sucked in. Remember: writing is your priority.
Don’t look back. Editing is your enemy right now. Do not reread what you wrote. There is no time for that, no time for self-doubt. Just look forward. There will be plenty of time to fix things in December. The only rereading I do is the last paragraph from the previous day if I need to refresh my memory. That’s it. Repeat after me: I will not edit during Nanowrimo. Trust me on this. It will suck you in and you will get lost in it.
Finally, the most important thing: don’t give up. If you have a bad day, don’t beat yourself up over it, just keep going. Forward motion is the most important thing during Nanowrimo. Maybe you won’t write everyday. Maybe you don’t make it to 50,000 words, but every word matters and it’s so amazing that you even tried, that you kept at it, that you didn’t back down when the going got tough. I wrote 30,000 words during Nanowrimo is much better than saying you threw in the towel at day 7. Don’t run yourself ragged, but don’t sell yourself short either.
I hope this helped, even if it was just a small amount. I will be participating in Nano this year, but I don’t think I’ll make it official. I’ll just be trying to do 1000 words a day for the whole month, to get a big chunk of my next book finished before I go back to revisions of Silent Night book 2. Nano for me is more about being inspired by everyone else and less about winning big.
Good luck to everyone; enjoy the ride.