NaNoWriMo. 50,000 words. One month.
Can you do it?
Yes, you can!
If you are participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I have a few suggestions to help you meet your goals!
In order to write a novel in a month, you have to be dedicated to the task. Tell everyone you know, and make good on that statement. The best way to do that is to write every day. Actually, if you are a writer or want to be a writer, you will probably write daily anyway. To write 50,000 words in a month means that you need to set a goal of about 2,000 words per day. Now, that will put you over 50,000 words if you meet that goal every day, but that’s OK. I suggest setting a slightly higher daily goal than the minimum you need to “win” because there will probably come a day when the world falls apart and you won’t be able to meet the goal. That’s OK too. If you write a little extra each day, it won’t be so hard to catch up if you do fall behind.
Write with a Plan
I also encourage you to plot out your novel before you start writing. At least know the major plot points and how it ends. It’s probably a good idea to get to know your characters a little bit before you start writing as well. Characters drive story, so developing good characters early in the process is extremely important.
Try to write early in the day. It is sort of like exercise. If you do it early, it will be done, and you won’t have to worry about being “too tired” or “too busy” (all just excuses!) to do it later. Some writers get up early and write before anyone else is awake so there will be fewer distractions. Others find small bits of time through the day: their lunch break, during their commute, a few minutes waiting in line or at the doctor’s office. Regardless of when you decide to write, put it as a high priority and don’t just save it for when everything else is done.
Don’t Look Back
One of the biggest things that stall a writer’s progress (aside from Writer’s Block) is looking backward. During NaNoWriMo, you are writing a novel in a month. Does it have to be perfect? No! It needs to be written. That means that no matter how much you want to start editing what you’ve written, don’t. Don’t look back until December. Or until the book is finished.
Don’t Stop There
To be honest, 50,000 words is a bit short for a novel, so you may find that you get a pretty bare-bones novel by the end of the month. If December rolls around, and you aren’t finished with your novel, don’t fret! Keep that momentum going and finish it! If you have a finished novel by December 1st, go back and add meat to it. Add details that you may not have thought about before. Make it come alive.
Consider the Next Steps
Finally, consider the next steps. You should probably give your novel a little time to rest before moving on to the editing stage. A few weeks in a locked trunk usually makes novels easier to edit later. They seem to settle down a bit. Then consider using a beta reader or having your novel professionally edited. Clicking Keys is offering a 5% discount on any service for NaNoWriMo participants until January 30, 2015. (Use code CKNaNo5)
At the end of 30 grueling days of writing, celebrate your hard work! Writing a novel isn’t easy, and it is not something that everyone can do. Be proud of yourself and share with your friends and family that you met your goal!