Every November writers from all over the world make a commitment to write 50,000 words in a single month as part of National Novel Writing Month…or as the cool kids call it…NaNoWriMo.
The goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t to help you polish off a perfect manuscript. Nope. It is all about getting words on paper. Getting first drafts finished. And making writing every single day a habit.
I owe a lot to NaNoWriMo. I wrote most of CAN’T TAKE IT BACK during NaNoWriMo 2017 and even did it together with my oldest daughter once. Most importantly, it helped me figure out just how and when I could fit writing every day into my normal routine. For those reasons, and many more, I am a big fan of NaNoWriMo and think every writer should try it at least once.
All that said, when I did my first NaNoWriMo in 2015, I only learned about it a week before it started. Consequently, I wasn’t ready and had no idea what to expect. Miraculously, I still managed to meet the goal and “win” but I wished I had been better prepared.
Here are a few simple tips to help you get ready to write all the words in November.
1. Sign Up
This seems obvious but even if you are committed in your mind, actually signing up and creating a NaNoWriMo profile makes it a lot more real. There are also a ton of resources on the NaNoWriMo website that will help you get ready to go.
Plus, once you are signed up you get to download some official badges and banners to help you share your commitment with the world.
2. Get organized
This doesn’t mean you have to become a plotter or outliner. It just means you should at least have an idea about the book you want to write during the month of November. If you have an outline, great; if you don’t, that’s okay too. Just make sure you are focused on one project for the month. That’s a key to NaNoWriMo success.
When you create your project on the NaNoWriMo there is an opportunity for you to give a few details of the novel you plan to work on: title, genre, summary, etc. There are also spots to add links to your Pinterest board or Spotify playlist if you have them.
The NaNoWriMo website also has a fantastic Prep Page with all the resources you could possibly need to get ready to write.
3. Schedule time
Again, this isn’t something that needs to be set in stone. But how do you plan to accomplish your goal of writing every day? Both times I have done NaNoWriMo, I was managing around the schedule of my young kids and a full-time job. So while I’d hoped to join the early morning writing club, the reality was that I did most of my writing after my kids went to bed. In my opinion, the time planning is a crucial step. You can’t just ‘hope’ to find a few hours every day to write.
4. Tell People
If you live with other people, this is a very important step. Writing 50,000 words in one month translates into 1,667 words per day, every day. Not only do you want your family, friends, kids, roommate, etc. to understand what you are trying to accomplish and give you the time and space to do it, but you also will really benefit from their support.
My kids asked me every morning how many words I’d written the night before and my husband refreshed my cup of tea without interrupting me. Those little gestures meant so much to me because they were involved in the process with me and cheering me on every step of the way.
5. Don’t Stress
Finally, please remember that NaNoWriMo isn’t meant to increase your stress level. It’s meant to challenge you, of course, but it’s also meant to help you. Help you develop better writing habits and make you see that you can fit writing into your life on a regular basis. It’s meant to help you finish that shitty first draft and type the words THE END on a manuscript. NaNoWriMo is meant to empower and connect.
Good luck to anyone planning on participating this year. I just starting drafting a new novel that I plan on writing the bulk of during NaNoWriMo in 2020 so I will be there in the writing trenches with you.
Feel free to reach out if you need some encouragement. We’re all in this together.