What is NaNoWriMo you ask? No, it’s not some funky intergalactic greeting. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. From November 1 to the 30th (just 30 days), you have to write a 50,000 word novel. Let me tell you from very close second-hand experience, it’s worth it. Both my wife and my daughter participated about seven years ago (my daughter was only 9 years old at the time. Yeah 9! If a 9-year-old can do it, you can!) The thing about NaNoWriMo that makes it so effective is that 1) there’s a community to encourage you, 2) there’s online support on their site and 3) when you commit to something like this, it pushes you to completion. If you’re a writer, starting a project like NaNoWriMo is very similar to the reasons I did the 48 Hour Film Project. There’s something about making that public commitment that pushes you.
To complete 50,000 words in 30 days, you need to write 1,667 words a day. Pfft! That’s ain’t nothin’. Most of my blog posts are that long. You can do this. Here are some writing tips:
- Just write. Do not edit while you’re writing. Just write the darn thing. Get the words down. NaNoWriMo is very much like running a marathon. The satisfaction of completing it is worth all the time and energy. Once you’ve finished your novel, you can go back after the month to tweak it. This is straight from their website regarding this topic: “Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly. Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.”
- Find a space. Find a dedicated area where you can write non-stop and uninterrupted for however many hours you need. A local coffee shop. The library. The park. Somewhere you can be at peace.
- Disconnect. It goes without saying that if you’re checking Twitter, Facebook, or email ever few minutes, you’re not going to get very far. Ideally, go somewhere you can be disconnected from the interwebs. I know that’s hard to do nowadays, so considering using a program like Anti-social. Once activated, it will prevent you from visiting any websites you tell it to block from your computer during the time you have it activated. The only way to override it is to restart your computer.
- Spousal buy-in. Where applicable, make sure your spouse is 100% behind you and supportive. There will be times when you won’t be able to pull your weight of the homely duties, so he or she needs to be aware and ready to take up the slack.
- Learn from others. Use the NaNoWriMo community to help encourage you and deal with issues they may have already dealt with.
You can create an account online and from the website track your progress. (My daughter was too young to create an account at the time, but she played along anyway). It was very rewarding for my wife and daughter to cross that 50,000 word finish line and be added to the NaNoWriMo annals of superstardom.
For more great tips on writing, check out this great post by The 99 Percent on “25 Isights on Becoming a Better Writer” (even if you’re not a writer, you’ll find a lot of these tips useful as an artist).
There’s no time like the present. Don’t think about it. Just jump in and DO IT!