It’s NaNoWriMo time. That frenzy of excitement and craziness is just around the corner.
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month held each November. I have been an active participant every year for the last 5 and have “won” four times.
If you have ever wanted to write a novel but didn’t know where to begin, this is a good place to be.
The NaNo rundown:
What: National Novel Writing Month is a challenge for individuals to attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Yes, it is possible.
Who: Anyone who has that “great American novel” inside them and wants to get it out.
Why: Writing novels is difficult and is often put off ‘until I have more time’. NaNoWriMo gives you a chance to challenge yourself to attempt a novel.
When: Every November
Where: Worldwide. NaNoWriMo seems to have created a movement where writers, and those who aspire to be writers, come together in their local communities and in online communities. The amount of energy and support is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced and creates momentum to reach your goals.
How: It isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The idea is to write 1667 words per day. That is what it takes to reach 50,000 words in 30 days.
If you are wondering how NaNoWriMo fits into Use Your Journal, well, I’ll tell you:
A journal is a great way to plan and keep track of everything for your novel. Journals, as you know, are good places to keep all of your thoughts and ideas related to your work.
For those of you who are writers and already use your journals for this, I will be writing a series of posts related to creating a writers bullet journal to help keep yourself organized. Please stay tuned as those posts will go up in October.
Is there a way to prepare for the challenge?
Yes. You can prepare and practice for the challenge of getting those nearly 1700 words onto the page.
My first year, I discovered Jeff Goins #my500words. I believe he will be offering this again this October. The premise is that you begin by building the habit of writing.
If you are already writing daily, Jeff offers 31 days of prompts to help you focus your thoughts and get the words down.
The first year I attempted NaNoWriMo, I worried that going in ‘cold turkey’ would be an exercise in futility.
Taking the #my500words challenge helped me to realize that I could get the words on the page and so many more. By doing this challenge, I was amazed because I truly didn’t think I could do it. The anxiety of the blank page, especially when you haven’t been writing can stall you even before you begin.
Other Tips and Tricks
Find your tribe. Try to find a local community of writers who are tackling this challenge. Go to NaNoWriMo.org. You can sign up for the challenge and connect with others. Check out the forums and find some buddies. And when things begin to look dark, there is also encouragement in every corner of the site.
Attend events. Writing is generally a solo activity but everyone needs a tribe. The local group I am connected with has events throughout the month of November even partnering with the local library for a place to write.
One thing I am going to attempt this year is a break down I discovered from Rachel Stevens from YouTube. She took the total number of words (1667) and broke them down into 3 different writing periods of 500 + 500 + 700. When you think of it like that, it doesn’t seem so bad – especially if you’ve been practicing the 500 words per day. Also, that will give you an idea of how long you have to write for each section to reach your goal for the day.
Sprints are your friend. I will say it again: Sprints are your friend. What is a sprint? Well, it is exactly what it sounds like. A timed write against others doing the same thing. The community I am in does them nightly and I believe that there is a sprint line in the forum on the website. You can do this on your own by setting a timer for 15 or 30 minutes.
Plan something. Okay all you pantsers, those writers who fly by the seat of your pants, yes, a novel can be written that way. Actually, I’m getting anxiety just by writing that. Even if all you have is a premise, a beginning and know where you would like to end – that is enough.
Although I’m using a new system this year, for years I’ve used Dan Wells, Seven-Point-Plot-Structure. It isn’t structured enough to restrict you but it gives you and idea of where you are going.
So, what do you think? Have you always wanted to write a novel? Are you ready to begin? Grab your journal and pen, or computer, and get writing.
Great! Can’t wait!
Until next time,
P.S. Please remember to hit subscribe to stay up to date with news, prompts and other happenings on Use Your Journal.