The title of this post may seem a little ambiguous, but I don’t want to pretend that I’ll be guiding you in your quest to finally write that bestselling novel, or that short story that boosts you into the public eyes. I’m nowhere near qualified to claim those things, so such a post would be a massive lie.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term – National Novel Writing Month is a scheme set up to encourage budding writers to complete a novel, by a goal of writing 50,000 words in the month of November each year. It’s been going since 1999, and has been growing steadily larger as the years go by.
Their website is here, and it’s really easy to set up an account on it. Basically, if you like writing and you like a challenge, it’s a brilliant scheme. I did it for the first time last year, and although that novel has remained incomplete, I did reach the goal and I’m still proud of myself for reaching it (especially as I finished about an hour before the deadline, but that’s another story).
But the main reason why I’m writing this post is because I feel like, after having my introductory year – well, month – of writing a novel, I can give anyone that’s looking to do it this year a list of helpful hints that would have made my 2015 journey a whole lot smoother and more productive.
So, here you go. Five ways to not fail NaNoWriMo.
- You don’t have to write in chronological order
This may sound obvious, but to me it wasn’t. I spent an entire month struggling to find words that came after the last ones. It never actually occurred to me that I could skip ahead to exciting battle scenes or character backstory development, rather than writing about bananas because literally nothing else was emerging from my brain. So don’t do that (seriously don’t) and just write the interesting parts. Go back to the filler later. Writing isn’t supposed to be a chore, so don’t make it one.
- Get prepared before you start
In other words: plan, plan, plan. Plan everything you can. Make lists, mind-maps, quotes you’ve thought up in the shower. Just write everything you need down before you start your novel. Give yourself prompts to look at when you’re stuck. Just don’t go in blind, whatever you do.
- Write something you’re passionate about
Again, probably something that sounds obvious. But don’t write a romance novel if you like gory horror, or vice versa. Write for a genre you love and with characters that you relate to and know well. Don’t get bored, because if you get bored then you’re less likely to finish your story.
- Think about your story even when you’re away from the keyboard
And make sure you take notes about what you’ve thought up. Sometimes you need space from endless tapping away. You never know when inspiration might strike.
- DON’T WRITE BY HAND
Seriously, don’t. On your NaNo account, you need to update your word count at the end of each day so that they can track how well you’re doing and give you recommendations for how many words you should aim to write each day. If you write by hand, that means you have to count the words by hand. So… Don’t write by hand. Use some kind of word processor, preferably one with a word count built in. Or you’ll probably die.
And honestly, I think that’s it. I’ll be starting my novel on the 1st November, so feel free to friend me on the website to keep up with how I’m going. I’ll probably post small updates and excerpts from what I’m writing onto here, but otherwise most of my data will be going onto the main website.
Thanks for reading, and I hope I’ll be able to post something like this again soon, rather than two weeks of silence. I would go into the reasons why, but they’re mostly schoolwork related.