It's NaNoWriMo time! Well, almost. What's NaNoWriMo? It's an annual writing event in which participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November.
Here are the rules:
[T]o be an official NaNoWriMo winner, you must…50,000 words sounds like a lot. Here's how the word count breaks down:
1. Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
2. Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works).
3. Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
4. Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
5. Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
6. Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.
Write every day: 1,667 words a day.
Write 6 days a week: 1,923 words a day.
Write 5 days a week: 2,273 words a day.
Most of the folks I've talked to say they shoot for 2,000 words a day so they can have a day off if they feel like it.
If you want to participate in NaNoWriMo, head on over to National Novel Writing Month and sign up. It's free!
What you want to do first is read about how NaNoWriMo works. If you'd like to meet up with other folks doing NaNo click here to see if there's a group doing NaNo near you. Also, don't forget to check out the discussion forms because half the fun of NaNo is that you're going through this with other people.
Preparing For NaNoWriMo
As Kristen Lamb says, "There is no sense in knocking out 50,000 words, if, at the end, we have an un-fixable mess" (Structure Part 4–Testing Your Idea–Is it Strong Enough to Make an Interesting Novel?). Not, that is, if you're a writer and your goal isn't simply to write 50,000 words in a month. That's all it is for some folks, and that's fine. But if you're a writer your goal is to create a (publishable) story.
Here are my suggestions on how to prepare for NaNoWriMo:
1) Start writing 2,000 words a day now
I imagine your first thought after reading that was: "Is she crazy?" Well, I might be, but not because of that!
Notice I didn't say: start writing 2,000 words of a novel. Yesterday I wrote about 1,600 words for my blog and probably at least another 400 words of fiction, so I wrote 2000 words. I'm not trying to pat myself on the back, but it's one thing to just write 2,000 words and quite another to write 2,000 of the first draft of a novel. The latter is much harder.
So, if you're not already writing 2,000 words a day, start doing it now. Take the time between now and the beginning of November to gradually ramp up your word count. That way when you start on your novel on November 1st it won't be such a shock to your system.
What should you write? Anything! Short stories, blog posts, whatever strikes your fancy. If you don't have a blog, and you don't feel like beginning one, you can always write guest posts.
Just in case you think my suggestion to write 2,000 words a day is outrageous, think about this. In a recent blog post I wrote about Kris Rusch's announcement that she had written a million words last year. A million!
That means, on average, Kris wrote 3,000 words a day with no days off. Okay, if you want to be picky, she wrote 2,858 per day, but that is way over what is required for NaNo. Since Kris writes about 86,000 words per month each month for her is NaNo!
2) Work on the structure of your novel
The rules state that:
None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works).So it's perfectly appropriate to work on an outline of your novel before Nov 1st and I'd suggest that, if you're anything like me, it's a darn good idea.
3) Prepare your meals beforehand
Prepare as many meals as you can in advance and freeze them. Also, go shopping and fill your pantry with nutritious canned food (soup, etc); anything that's good for you and easy to heat up. Repeat after me: Pringles chips are (deliciously) evil.
4) Find a writing place
If you haven't already done so, find a place, or places, you can write. You'll want it to be quiet and comfortable.
5) Tell your friends and family you're participating in NaNoWriMo
You may have to step back from a couple of events in November and it helps if your friends and family know why. Also, if you tell everyone you'll have the first draft of a novel completed by the end of November that will help keep you on track. No one likes to admit they've failed, especially to their family. (Because, of course, you'd still be hearing about it 10 years from now!)
I'd love to hear from anyone who is doing NaNoWriMo or has done it in the past. How are you preparing? If you've gone through NaNoWriMo in the past, what did you think of it? Was it a good experience, one you would recommend to others?
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- 12 Writing Tips: How To Be A Writer
Photo credit: Anthony Anaxagorou