Writing Advice

About NaNoWriMo

For all budding writers out there, we are just over a month away from one of the greatest global events ever: NaNoWriMo. The acronym stands for National Novel Writing Month, and takes place during the thirty day month of November in which people from all over the world join together and take a bid to write 50,000 words (well now they have the option of choosing your own target so it could even be 10, 000 words), in just 30 days. Write like mad, write like crazy, write like you’ve never done so before and unleash the writer inside you.

For those trying to reach the 50,000 target, that translates to 1,667 words a day – wake up that tad bit earlier, or replace the TV time with writing time, and you’ll find you’ll have a novel by the end of the month. There are loads of offers that come with the event – offers on Scrivener, Lulu etc and there’s an amazing community that can support you whilst you write your story.

If November isn’t right for you, you also have the option of taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo. This event takes place during the summer, and has the added bonus of cabins if you so choose. You can choose to be assigned to a random cabin where you meet new people or select certain criteria so that you share a cabin with people that are writing the same genre as you or make a private cabin to share with your family and friends. Alternatively you can venture into the NaNoWriMo forums where in the months of March and June you can find NaNoers looking for cabin members who fit a specific criteria (as the system offered by random allocation doesn’t always work) – this is particularly important if you want to ensure your cabin is active and more importantly that you are from a similar timeline  and online at the same time. Nadia joined a cabin in July 2015 and still talks with them about writing almost daily. Cabins are a great way to keep you motivated to write throughout the month, as you have other people discussing their achievements and constantly checking if you are also writing.

The Experience

NaNoWrimo has resulted in my first novella, my first novel and rewrites of my novel. For my first attempt at writing a novel, I had barely even a concept in mind of what I wanted to write and I just relied on the ‘seat of the pants’ moment to get the novel written. What happened? Well in the end, I did get the novel written, but it was a huge mess. Most of the scenes didn’t make any sense, I couldn’t see where the story direction was going, there wasn’t a real resolution as there were too many gaping holes in the plot to even start thinking about. This made the re-writing process a long slog. I had to reevaluate the whole story, and make drastic changes to the draft in order for it to even begin to make some sense. Nadia also had a similar result, however she managed to get her novel finished and used the December buzz to complete a second draft.

With all that being said, there was something exhilarating about hitting the minimum daily target of 1667 words, and it was an even greater reward when I managed to exceed the target and get ahead of schedule. Without NaNoWriMo, I don’t think I would have ever started on the novel. It is better by far to be left with a ‘vomit’ draft at the end of the month, than have no novel at all. NaNoWrimo gave me something that I could work on, to improve and mould into a better story. Without it, I’d still be stuck in my head with too many ideas going around and no words written.

Tips:

  • Tell someone so they can hold you accountable.
  • Keep track of your word count. You can do a google search for Microsoft Excel templates that help you keep track of how much you have written, how many more words you have left to write and even motivational messages to keep you going.
  • Set out time in your schedule for writing.
  • Resist the urge to instantly read back over what you’ve just written – turn off that internal editor – you’ll progress through the writing faster and won’t lost motivation as quickly.
  • Save your work/have backups:
    • You can use Dropbox, Google Drive, email the works to yourself, CrashPlan, a USB stick – anything so you won’t lose all of your hard work.

Conclusion

Throughout October, we are going to write articles to help prepare you for the NaNoWrimo experience, and in November, we’ll be supporting you through the event.

Are you thinking of taking part in NaNoWriMo? Let us know in the comments below!

Elizabeth

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