National Novel Writing Month (Officially known as NaNoWriMo), is a wonderful event that runs the length of November. It is either an exciting time, a scary time, or maybe you haven’t even heard of NaNoWriMo. The last category is where I fell last year; I just started my public author journey a couple of months before and I thought I could tackle NaNoWriMo with just good intentions after hearing about it a few times from my writing friends.
How wrong I was.
I was not ready for the pace, nor the commitment that NaNoWriMo needed. Much like writing any other novel, you really don’t know how tough it will be until you are a week or two behind.
And now NaNoWriMo is quickly coming up again and I don’t want a repeat of last year. I want a successful month of NaNoWriMo for both myself and everyone who is reading this and participating. So learn from some of my mistakes from last year, and I hope they help you avoid the same traps.
You Should Already Be Planning
I thought that I could get away with a week of planning. I know that sounds a little ridiculous, to write an entire novel of more than 50,000 words in just four weeks without a fully fleshed-out plan. But when something sounds so fun and exciting, it is easy to let the planning fall to the wayside.
But don’t worry. If you haven’t started planning already, it isn’t too late. Take the idea that you’ve been playing with and start planning it. Bring the characters to life, outline the chapters and the scenes, and get going on your plan right now! You won’t regret it.
Get a Friend… or Ten... or One Hundred
I took on the challenge of 50,000 words in a month by myself, but NaNoWriMo is an international campaign. There are people from every corner of the globe that take part in this awesome event.This has led to a lot of local chapters that get together to support one another and write together. It is great for those who love social support and a team environment.
And now, in the digital age, it is even easier to find support and friends that will participate with you. Whether you use the hashtag on Twitter, find communities on Google+, or join groups on Facebook, there is no shortage of NaNoWriMo support you can find with just a little bit of looking.
Make a Schedule and Stick to It
I thought that I would be fine by saying “I will just write on my way home on the train” and hoped that would cover it. Crowded trains and a lack of motivation squashed that pretty quickly. Instead, you should make a schedule - a very detailed schedule.
Use your plan (that you have already started making) to create this detailed schedule. Book out enough time every single day to accomplish specific parts of your plan. What days will you work on which chapters? What word count do you need to hit every day?
Use the network or group you joined to make this month more fun, or a variety of other tools to measure your progress. Tweet out your words written every day, track your progress on the NaNoWriMo site, and make the journey towards 50,000 words as fun as it should be.
Need even more help getting those words down every day? If you can keep accountable and on track, reward yourself! Give yourself something to keep those words going and stay motivated.
Have Fun and Love the Journey
Remember that this month is for you and your love of writing. It is a challenge, there is no doubt about that. And you will have great days and some pretty dismal days. But keep your chin up and don’t let the down days take the joy from it. I started seeing NaNoWriMo as a chore, not an opportunity. But this year you should all join me in remembering exactly how fun this month will be!
I have promised myself that this year’s NaNoWriMo will be more successful than last year’s, and I will be putting every effort I can into winning this time around. I want others to be in the same boat as me, so I hope that you can learn from my mistakes in last year’s NaNoWriMo.
Are you a NaNo veteran yourself? Tell us about your past experiences - how you succeeded, or some pitfalls we should avoid. Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Leave a comment down below with your story idea. Or share how you make your most effective plans for November.
Thanks for stopping by my friends, happy writing.