It’s lurking. I can see it lingering over there. Ready to pounce. I’m tempted. But I’m also scared! Maybe I’m just crazy!!! It’s not a greeting from Mork from Ork, although it is kinda insane, it’s NaNoWriMo! (For Millenials and younger catch the nanu nanu reference here.)
NaNoWriMo starts in two and a half weeks and I might just be out of my mind enough to do it this year.
What is NaNoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month! The challenge is to write a novel from beginning to finish in one month’s time. While you could do this challenge any month (I would chose October over February!), the official NaNoWriMo is November. Yes, I hear you saying, “There’s so much going on in November with Thanksgiving and Christmas at its heels.” I know! That’s why it calls for a healthy portion of insanity to do this.
So Why do this?
Writing a novel is intimidating. Period! When I wrote my first novel I got stuck after completing the first act with rewrite after rewrite. The best thing that happened to me was signing up for a conference in which I had to submit the LAST twenty pages. There’s nothing like a deadline! I know that awful feeling of having a story to write, but petrified to start. There is also the “I don’t have the time to write” excuse. Clear your schedule for one month. It’s just one month. After 30 days of writing you will have a completed novel. Publishable? Highly unlikely. But draft one is done. And done it time to take the next month off to let the story marinate while you hang the mistletoe and deck the halls.
I may be crazy enough to give this a whirl, so how do I do this?
The goal that NaNoWriMo sets forth is to write a fifty thousand novel. Depending on your story this may not be enough, so you may have to adjust your daily word goal. Take your word goal and divide by 29 because let’s face it, who’s going to write while in a turkey coma?
35,000 (a middle grade novel) = 1,206 words per day (wpd)
50,000 (NaNoWriMo goal) = 1,724 wpd
75,000 (YA novel) = 2,586 wpd
160,000 (the next Harry Potter – average length) = 5,517 wpd (yikes!)
Besides word count, what else should you keep in mind?
- Spend these next two weeks planning. Research settings, history, foods. Get to know your characters. Especially your MC and antagonist. Consider story lines. Are you the outlining type? Do that now.
- Also over these next two weeks, surround yourself with things of the genre you want to write. Does that mean wearing 18th century garb? Hey, if it helps you get into the mind of your story about Ben Franklin (yes, I mean you!) then I say go for it. It’s October after all. Halloween is not that far away, you can get away with it!
- Once November starts, write fast and furiously. Somedays those 1,724 words will fly out of your fingers. Other days you will bang your head against the keyboard and hope something miraculous occurs.
- Acknowledge that it may be crap. In fact, it probably will. You won’t really know your story, what your characters are made of, until you start writing it and putting them in impossible situations.
- DO NOT REWRITE! In fact, avoid rereading! Just read the paragraph or sentence you left off with.
- Tune into this blog. I’m going to be in the trenches with you.
Are you a NaNoWriMo veteran? Leave a tip in the comment box.
For more tips, check out these pages:
- The official page. You can sign up here if you want to make it officially official.
- Thirty tips from Writer’s Digest.
- Are you a young writer? Here’s what you need to know.