This month marks my fifth (and hopefully successful) attempt at winning National Novel Writing Month. How do you win? Simply write 50,000 words in one month on one project. Of course, Nano has all kinds of unnecessary rules, such as it has to be a new project, and you can't have anything written before the month begins, but what are rules for if not to be broken?
I start ahead of time, think about plot, think about characters, and usually write around 5,000 words. I don't however, include those words in my NanoWriMo count - that would be cheating.
The two things I like the most about NanoWriMo are:
1. Watching my stats go up.
2. Watching my "words per day to finish" go down.
In the spirit of NanoWriMo, I am going to offer some suggestions for pushing through all the way until Day 30 (some of which were stolen from this Facebook post). If you're doing NanoWriMo, or have done it in the past, please comment below with your advice for succeeding!
- Write every day, even if you only manage to write 50 words.
- Don't listen to the nonsense they tell you about "it's only about word count!" and "to get those words, feel free to have your main character contemplate the cultural implications of introducing bananas into a society" if it doesn't have anything to do with your work. You're just going to delete it later. Try to balance word count and quality.
Things you can write about that might not technically advance your novel:
- World-building descriptions
- Character sketches
- Back story
- Side stories
- Don't beat yourself up for skipping a day. You'll be okay, even if you finish on December 1, or 2, or 25, 2018. Every word you write is another word towards having a complete novel. Don't knock it.
- If you're stuck, go back and read some of what you wrote on previous days. This can often spark an idea, or remind you of something you planned to do but forgot about.
- Get your friends and family to help - dishes, laundry, cleaning, and other responsibilities can be shared, at least for a month.
- Skip. If you know where you want to be, but not how to get there, just skip the getting there part. It'll come to you, eventually. If you have something to say, write it. Don't wait. You can always rearrange your book later.
- Don't spend too much time on forums. Contrary to popular belief, forums, Facebook, Twitter, and cats can be a nice distraction, and can pull you enough out of your book for you to realize something important, but they can also make you feel awful about your own progress, process, and hope for success. Use your time online wisely.
- Write more early in the month, when you're fresh. Don't aim for just 1,667 words. Aim for 1,700 or 1,701 or more. If you slowly accrue slightly more words than you need, then later in the month you can skip a day and be fine, or have extra words to make it when you can't quite get to 1,667.
- Week 2 is the hardest. Don't give up - it's just like going to the gym: it sucks, but it's worth it.
- Don't stop at the end of the month. If writing is truly what you love doing, don't let the end of November mean the end of writing. Set a schedule and write daily or weekly, or even monthly. Find other writing exercises or contests. Find writer friends. Most of all, find time.
If you're doing NanoWriMo this year, let's be Nano friends! Click to see my Nano profile, and add me. Or, follow me on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter to watch my daily progress. See you at the end of November!