Four years ago almost to the day (alright, minus 3 days), I started writing my first novel during #NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. During #NaNoWriMo, you have to write a 50,000 word novel and you have the entire month of November to do so. Let me just say, this was the most difficult thing I have ever done. It’s not just the word count that is heavy, but you have to develop characters, plot, and a cohesive novel all in 30 days. Can you even imagine doing that? In order to achieve 50,000 words by the end of the month, you have to write about 1,667 words per day.
Novelists take months, more like years to just complete a novel, yet crazy writers spend their entire month of November doing so. Completing #NaNoWriMo does not mean that your novel needs to be clean and edited and ready to publish, but it can be a draft, mine certainly was. You don’t have to complete it your first time, although I did, it was the roughest month of my life. People thought I was crazy to take on this challenge during my junior year of high school and just in general. But it was the best decision of my life.
Since completing my first #NaNoWriMo, I have gone on to complete 3 other novels. Maybe not in a month’s time, but complete them nonetheless. I love writing. I love #NaNoWriMo, I just don’t currently have the time to participate again. What it taught me was to think on my feet, trust my gut, and to give my characters life. Because I was forced to think of my entire novel at once, I was forced to think and dig deep. Nothing helps a writer more than practice and hard deadlines. Good writing does take time, but it also takes decision making.
I know I’m a few days late, but here are some of my tips for doing your best during #NaNoWriMo:
- Keep writing no matter what. If you get stuck with your plot or with a character, keep writing and go back to it later. You don’t want to get stuck and let yourself sit there for an entire day because you’ll be almost 2,000 words behind on your daily target.
- Don’t worry about making it perfect. There is a time and place to go back and edit and that is once you complete the novel. Like I said earlier, the goal is to complete a draft of your novel, not the final manuscript.
- Set aside time to write everyday. Don’t just say you’ll write and get to it later, but schedule time out so you mentally know when you can write and when you can think your best.
- Use #NaNoWriMo tools. If you need help, tweet them. They’ll tweet back with some advice or tips. Their site is also full of tips from past successors, and HQ. Plus they have a wicked graph tracking your progress day to day that is so helpful.
- Have fun. This isn’t meant to be something serious and strict, but fun. You’re supposed to be pushing yourself to write as much as you can, explore your imagination, and try to write a novel in a month.
I am envious of every single person who is participating in #NaNoWriMo this year. Hopefully you enjoy it and it changes your life like it did to mine. Writing is an amazing gift and win or lose, you did your best and that’s all we ask of you. Good luck! Have fun! You got this.