NaNoWriMo – when a large collection of writers gather around the world to write a novel in a month!
When you put it like that, it sounds crazy and intimidating doesn’t it? An entire novel, in one month! Don’t fear, I’m here to help.
First things first, take a deep breath, you can do this.
Secondly, let’s think about this logically. Don’t think of it as one huge undertaking, it’s not an entire novel, it’s a series of chapters, a collection of 1667 word bites. That’s manageable right?
If you write 50 words per minute, you can get that chunk done in under 40 minutes! That completely do-able right? Say it louder! Yes Holly, that’s completely do-able!
Great, now you have to can-do attitude, we’ll have at look at some methods to help you achieve that goal.
This isn’t my first NaNoWriMo, I’ve actually forgotten how many I’ve done, I’ve done them under a few different names. The point is, I’m something of an old-hand. I’m far from the only one too, there are lots of us out there ready to help you in every way we can.
So the first thing you can do to help you on this journey, is connect with your fellow wrimos.
Personally, I live on Twitter, and I know there’s an amazing community over there. Don’t be afraid! The NaNoWriMo community is absolutely outstanding, we’re some of the friendliest most supportive people you’ll come across.
That community is what will keep you going through the dark times. Find your little corner, be that on Twitter, the NaNoWriMo forums, Tumblr, Google+, Facebook, wherever you hang out. Don’t be scared, we’re all very enthusiastic and welcome everyone with open arms, and cookies.
Once you’ve found your happy place with your fellow wrimos, you can start looking at building habits and a good atmosphere for this adventure.
Personally, I’d recommend having some form of a plan.
You don’t have to have a really detailed outline (although if that works for you, fantastic!), but some understanding of your main characters and the major conflict will help you a lot. It’ll give you something to fall back on when you start to struggle.
I will have a post on outlining and planning in the not too distant future!
I mentioned building habits, and that’s going to be really important.
I strongly recommend that you set aside a specific writing place, and build up some writing cues. There’s likely a proper term for this, but, writing cues are things that only happen when you sit down to write. They will become triggers in your mind that tell your subconscious it’s time to write.
The way create these cues is really quite simple. Choose your writing spot, be that in your office, in a set place on your sofa, your writing shed, whatever works for you. Then, if you write with music, create a playlist that you only listen to when you write. The moment you stop writing, the music gets stopped. You can add in other cues, perhaps you only eat shortbread when you’re writing, or you have a particular mug you drink your tea from when you write. The key is that those things only come together when you write. You don’t gather them all up together unless you’re writing.
I’d also recommend adding in some positive reinforcement, some rewards to keep you going and stave off the feeling of this being a chore. I’ll have a post on that too!
Next up, is the keeping you sane section.
NaNoWriMo can be really super stressful. Even with the amazing community, it can feel overwhelming. You need to allow yourself to take some time if you need it. This is supposed to be fun! If you fall behind, that’s ok. You can always join in some of the wordwars and writing sprints, they’re fantastic for wordcounts. I’m particularly fond of the team ones – where you sprint for your team. There were some Harry Potter ones last year where you sprinted for your house.
Don’t forget to live your life. I know that NaNoWriMo is a huge deal, and it can become really addictive, but you need to take you time too. Give yourself some peace, and down time to read, watch movies, meet up with friends, whatever. You don’t want to risk burning out.
Be flexible. Life happens. Something could change, maybe your wonderful idea only has 20,000 words in it, or maybe something happens at work. That’s ok! Take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s a plot twist, you totally have this.
If you liked this post, check out my Urban Fantasy on Amazon.