How to Make it Through NaNoWriMo
It’s that time of year again. We’re at the end of October and NaNoWriMo is less than a week away! For the past 2 years I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo and this year I’m planning to participate! This year I’ll be working on my NA contemporary novel that I’ve been thinking about for a few months now. I still don’t have the entire book plotted, but I know how it begins and I know how it ends and right now we’re just gonna go from there.
There are a few things you should know about National Novel Writing Month if you don’t already. You have 30 days to write a draft that has 50,000 words. It’s going to be messy and you might scream or laugh or cry, but in the past two years I’ve learned a few things and I wanted to share them with you.
During NaNoWriMo focus on writing the words!
Whether you’re a plotter or a panster (or in the middle like me) November is for writing. I do try to go into every November with at least some sort of plot. In 2016, which was my first year attempting NaNo, I had a very basic idea of what I wanted to write about and I just sort of winged it. Reading that book now…. well it doesn’t make any sense, there are plenty of plot holes and the ending was really lame. Basically, it’s going to be an editing nightmare, which is why I still haven’t edited it. Oops. Last year though I came in more prepared, I had more of an outline thanks to Paper Fury’s great outlining tips and my draft was much much better. And then we moved to Colorado and I had a baby so I still haven’t edited that book either. Oh well, it’s a new year, a new NaNo and a new novel.
The most important thing I learned in the past few years is that you just need to write. Get those words out on the paper (or computer!) Once the words are there, it makes it so much easier to either edit or simply re-write the entire book (which I did do with my 2016 original draft.) But the whole point of NaNo is to write, write, write. Get those words out! Tell that story! The first draft is going to be messy, but if you have a plan (as basic as it may be) you still have a road map and you’ll just be able to write.
But be sure to have some sort of plot.
I do recommend having at least a basic plot + outline of your novel. Having this makes it 1000 times easier once you sit down to actually write! Planning and outlining haven’t been my strongest writing talents, but I am working on it. This year I do have more of an outline than I have the past 2 years and it makes me really excited to get in and write my book. I also hope that having more of it plotted out will make my writer’s block less, but we will see. If you need help on how to outline your novel, I highly recommend this post by Paper Fury.
My novel this year is a NA comtemporary about two best friends and their last summer together before one goes to college and the other.. um. well dies from cancer. Yes, I’m very nice to my characters.
Don’t worry about editing while you write, you can do that later.
I really do need to get better at going back and editing the books/drafts I write, especially during NaNo. My big goal for this year (besides writing 50,000 words) is to go back and edit my book in January (I let my words rest for at least a month + December is super busy with family and holidays and my birthday. But my goal is to actually take the time to edit, but not while I’m writing. This goes along with my first point, just get those words written!
It’s actually really fun to see how many words you can write during a single month.
I don’t have a ‘word count’ goal most of the year, so when November rolls around, I’m able to write a lot more than usual because my focus is my novel. I tend to read a bit less and watch a lot less TV because my sole focus is getting that draft finished! Woo! It’s a real rush. I think I find it so exciting because it’s only a month long, and when the month is over I (hopefully) have the first draft of my novel complete.
Writing first drafts for me is so so so so hard. I hate it actually. I love coming up with the story, the details, and the plot. And I think I’ll actually enjoy editing and making the story better, but for some reason, I often hate that first draft. I know I’m not alone in this, but the funny thing is that during November, I LOVE WRITING THE FIRST DRAFT. Like who am I? I don’t have answers.
I do think I’m even more motivated to write during November simply because so man other people are writing too and I’m like woo, I’m not the only one making my way through a first draft! And it really is exciting! Anyway, does anyone else get excited to see how much they can write during November?
You get to meet lots of other writers.
Really though… writing is hard. But I also think it’s fun, why else would I be doing it? Enjoy this fast-paced writing month and make connections with other writers! Support each other and cheer each other on! This writing thing is hard, but we have a whole community of writers! Add me on the NaNo website, I’d love to be friends with you and cheer you on from there and on on Twitter! One of my favorite parts about NaNo the past couple of years has been all the other writer friends I’ve been able to make, and this year I hope to meet even more of you.
Switch it up.
If you get stuck (and you just might) take a break from the computer and pull out a notebook and a pen. When I get stuck with a writing project, I always take away the screen and start writing with pen and paper. For some reason, this makes it easier for me. I don’t feel quite as much pressure and I’m able to get back in the flow of writing. I do go back to my computer, but if I get stuck this is what I do! And if you’re struggling, I highly recommend switching things up for a little while!
Have lots of snacks.
Writing is hard, it takes lots of energy. Stock up on your favorite snacks + lots of healthy options. You’ll need your fuel!! I usually keep my snacks in the kitchen. This means I have to get up and stop writing and take a break to eat them but that’s usually a good thing.
Writing 50,000 words in a month is a lot. At least, it is for me. So, make sure you have plenty of breaks. Read a few pages in a book, binge watch something on Netflix and just enjoy time with your family or your friends or your dog. Breaks are healthy and wonderful and always give me more motivation to write.
Just have fun.
Take a deep breath. You can do this. Whether you write 1000 words or 50,000 words, you’re awesome and it’s going to be an adventure. I love November because of NaNo (and it also means December is coming) and I’m really looking forward to this year. I know it can be easy to get frustrated if you get stuck, but just keep writing and have fun. Writing is supposed to be fun, right?