November marks the start of National Novel Writing Month. Don't know what that is? Check this out. Briefly, the NANO organization encourages writers of all stages to devote the month of November to writing 50,000 words. The challenge is meant to jump start that idea for a novel you've been sitting on for the last decade, or to help you get over your fear of actually turning your idea into a novel, or both. For many, NANO has been a helpful tool to get their work out on paper. The book I just finished reading, The Night Circus, started as a NANO novel.
For many writers, 50,000 words a month is no easy feat. That's about 1,700 words a day. My personal word count goal for when I'm writing a book is about 1000 words. Other authors I know eat the NANO challenge for breakfast and can break out 50k words in a matter of a few weeks.
We're all at different stages, but the point is, we love to write. And some of us need a little help to get the fingers flowing on the keyboard.
Will I be participating in NANO this year?
The answer, sadly, is no. To my embarrassment, I actually never have set out to do the challenge of writing 50k in a month. The problem (or my excuse, rather) is that I have always been in the middle of editing a project during the month of November. I thought about starting my next project, but it's a novella, which will fall embarrassingly short of the word count required to be considered a NANO novel. Hopefully next year I will coordinate my schedule better to line up with National Novel Writing Month. It's something I'd love to participate in and highly encourage other writers to do.
My tips for NANOWriMo:
1. Have an outline ready, not just an idea. When writing, you may like to fly by the seat of your pants, but when it comes to a deadline it's best to have your research done before you sit down to actually write. The words will flow much faster if you don't have to stop and think of the name for your character's dog or figure out how he got that scar.
2. Hydrate and have a healthy snack on hand. You need your brain on optimal firing power so eat rich protein foods like eggs or low cal protein bars. Now would be a good time to cut out refined sugars. Refined sugars are poison for your brain. Look it up.
3. Take frequent breaks. A lot of writers find they get more words on the page if they write in spurts. Fifteen minutes seems to be the magic number. I've tried this and had excellent results. Write for 15 minutes, then
4. Think of NANO as your new religion. In my faith, we are highly encouraged to pray and study scriptures daily above all other activities. Even for just a few minutes. Consider applying this same devotion to your writing time. Block off your time and don't let anything disturb you. Turn off your phone. Like, literally, turn it off. Put the kids to bed. Buy the dog a new chew toy. Rent that movie for your spouse they've been dying to see and then lock the door. This time is for YOU and for you to do something you've always wanted to do. Don't let anything get in the way.
5. Don't get discouraged. I repeat DON'T GET DISCOURAGED. Writing a novel is like, really hard. I get it. But at this point, you're not writing a novel, you're writing a first draft. You're putting fifty thousand words on a page and let me tell ya, no matter how jumbled and confusing that first draft may be, finishing it feels pretty darn good. And I bet wearing the badge of NANO Winner feels even better. Hopefully I'll find out someday. :)
Superstar author Leigh Bardugo said, "Just as the moon waxes and wanes, inspiration and creativity can ebb and flow according to whatever we encounter in our daily lives." You will probably have days when the words just won't come. You'll have days you feel like a "failure". But let me tell you something, nothing is accomplished without consistency. A book isn't written in a day. You can't edit a blank page. If your dream is to write a novel, write. Even if it absolutely sucks rotten eggs (it won't) you will have become a better writer by finishing it. You'll go on to write something that sucks a little less, (in your self sabotaging opinion) and a little less, until finally you've written something you feel proud of. You can do it, friend.