It’s NaNoWriMo! As usually, I’m participating in this event. I’ve been participating for the last five years and although I didn’t always win, I usually do. This year will be extra tough, though, since I’m also starting a new job in November. So, finishing that novel in one month will be extremely difficult, but I like a challenge, so I’m going for it.
To help everyone participating in NaNoWriMo (and to help myself too, of course), I’ve put together a handy list of tips and tricks.
- Set your goal
Back in the old days, NaNoWriMo meant writing a 50,000 word novel. But now, the rules are slightly more relaxed. 50,000 is still the norm, but if your novel will be 60,000 words, or even 100,000 all of that is allowed. In fact, the more words, the better! My books are usually between 60-80,000 words. I never quite know beforehand how long the book will be, but I do have a general idea, so I have to plan accordingly. Writing 50,000 words in one month is about 1,667 words a day, but if you’re writing a longer novel, then you’ll have to pen down more words a day.
- Don’t stop writing when you’ve reached your quota
Surprisingly enough, I see many authors who call it a day once they’ve reached their desired quota for the day, either 1,667 words or more. Don’t! Why would you not continue to hit that next mark, maybe 2,000 words? And if you’re still feeling inspired, nobody or nothing is stopping you from hitting 5,000 words or more in a single day. The quota is there for the days you might not be able to write, the days you might not hit that mark because life happens, or because your inspiration is gone, or God knows what else. But if you’re feeling inspired, keep writing!
- Make an outline
I used to just write. I didn’t have an outline, at most I had a vague idea of who my main characters and what I wanted to happen. Now, I always use an outline. You can’t fast draft without one, really. When you’re feeling low on inspiration, when you don’t know how to get from point A to point B and you only have thirty days to finish the book, then you don’t have a lot of time to sit around and wait until inspiration hits you and you find a way to bring your characters to the desired point. That’s where your outline is your lifeline. It will help you find inspiration, come up with ideas, and it will keep the path straight when you don’t know what should happen next, or forgot your end goal, the outline is still there.
- Stray from your outline – sometimes
However, although I’m all for outlines, I don’t think you should see it as a Holy Grail. You can derail from the outline from time to time. When you have a marvellous idea, when the characters demand a certain scene, when you find an even better solution to a problem, there’s no reason why you should stick to your outline no matter what. This is part of the creative process, and it’ll make your novel so much better if you just follow the path creativity takes you on, without hanging on to that outline for dear life.
- Turn off your inner editor
This is an important tip too. Turn off your inner editor. Even when you’ve caught a typo on the sentence above the last one you just typed, let it go.”Ain’t nobody got time for that” is your new life’s motto when it comes to NaNoWriMo. You don’t have time to go back and edit and re-edit that paragraph until it shines, you have to continue on and write your next paragraph, or you’re not going to make it.
So, there we are, my tips for NaNoWriMo. I’ll have some more NaNoWriMo tips and news for you next week. Meanwhile, for those of you participating in the event, good luck and happy writing!