National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a challenge to authors to start a new novel and write 50,000 words in the month of November. It’s not an easy task. In fact, I’ve attempted to complete the challenge twice. The first attempt resulted in a fiery crash so brilliant that I vowed never to subject myself to the misery again. But alas, the next year I forgot my pledge and tried again, this time coming out victorious.
There were several things that I did different the second time around that contributed to my success, so I’m sharing these tips in hopes they help someone else.
Although NaNoWriMo doesn’t start for more than a week, most of these tips can be used now to prepare for the challenge.
- Research: Whether writing non-fiction or fiction a good foundation for any book is the research put into it. Fiction becomes much more believable when interwoven with the truth. If you don’t know what to research, here are a few ideas to get you started: the occupation of your protagonist, the book’s setting(s), or topics (e.g., mental illness, scientific theories, police procedures) within your story. An added bonus, the research process can help generate ideas for your novel.
- Outlining: Not every writer is big on outlining their book. I happen to fall into the camp of writers who enjoy seeing where the story goes. I also know that this method can include backtracking, or a bit of a stall now and then. For this challenge in particular, whether you create a formal outline, or jot down scenes or major plot points that you want to appear in your story for later use, this will help streamline the process, so your writing is more focused.
- Tracking your progress: Keeping a log of how many words you wrote in a day, how many words you have total, and compare them to a running total of your goal will help keep motivation up and keep you focused on the word count you need to reach each day. Here’s a FREE spreadsheet to help you track your progress. On average, the word count for each day should be 1,667 words.
- Character sketch: Knowing your characters’ motivations before you start writing can help with development of your story. It may also inspire ideas for obstacles to place in your character’s way to achieving his or her goal.
- When you’re stuck: Once you begin the challenge, if you find yourself stuck, skip to the next scene that you know you want to write. You can always come back to that part later. Whenever you come up with an idea for your story that doesn’t quite fit where you’re currently writing, add it to your outline or notes for future use.
For additional information on NaNoWriMo including motivation, support, assistance with tracking progress, and to meet fellow writers, visit http://nanowrimo.org/.
Good luck, and happy writing!