NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual event whereby people with too much time on their hands and not enough brain cells in their heads embark on a mission to write a novel in a month. I know, it sounds mad, but it’s actually surprisingly doable with a little commitment and consistency.
There is only really one rule: write 50,000 words of a novel between November 1 and November 31. The novel can be any genre, in any language, and can be complete or just part of a larger work to be completed at a later date. Participants are even allowed (and positively encouraged) to plan their novel and make extensive notes in the build-up to the start date.
NaNoWriMo has been with us since 1999 when just 21 people took part. By 2010 that had risen to 200,000, and I have personally taken part every year since 2005. Unfortunately I have yet to reach the goal of 50,000 words, but perhaps this year will be different.
Depending on when you’re reading this it may not be too late to take part in this year’s NaNoWriMo. And there are certain tips which should help you in your quest to reach the magic 50k…
NaNoWriMo Tips and Tools
– Have your novel outlined before the month begins. You can have each chapter plotted and all characters named as long as you don’t actually start writing the story proper. This is essential unless you adopt a stream of consciousness style of writing and see what emerges onto the screen. YWriter is a free tool that helps you track and organize your novel as it progresses.
– Try and exceed the 1667-word daily minimum on days when you have spare time and the creativity is flowing. This will give you room to take your foot off the pedal when something unexpected comes up mid-month. FocusWriter is a free tool that helps you keep track of your word count.
– Use all the help you can get from people you know and strangers you don’t know. The NaNoWriMo forums are filled with alumni from past years who will be more than happy to assist and advise.
– Don’t get distracted. It’s far too easy to find something else online to do that will only end up eating away at the minutes you should be spending writing. Write or Die is a free tool which forces you to keep writing. If you don’t then your previous paragraphs will start disappearing in front of your eyes.
– Don’t stop and spell-check or change passages of the story. Just keep plowing through until you reach the end. Editing can commence on December 1. Having said that you should remember to take regular breaks. BreakTaker, from our own Evan Wondrasek, is a free tool that reminds you it’s time to step away from the computer.
– Have fun. There’s no point in writing, whether it be 5,000 words in a year or 50,000 in a month, if you’re not enjoying the experience.
To conclude, good luck to all those intrepid souls taking on the challenge of NaNoWriMo. You’ll need it. And feel free to add me as a writing buddy (DaveP).
Image Credit: Welcometoalville