The month of November means falling leaves, football, big cozy sweatshirts, pumpkin-spiced lattes and most important . . . NaNoWriMo!
What is NaNoWriMo you might be wondering? It stands for National Novel Writing Month and it begins every November 1st. The whole idea is to write a 50,000-word manuscript by 11:59 PM on November 30. Sound impossible? Difficult, yes, but definitely not impossible. Broken down, it’s roughly 1667 words a day, 7 days a week for 30 days.
Last year was the first time I had ever heard of NaNoWriMo and I wanted to give it a try. In the end, I failed miserably, but I did take something away from the experience.
Throughout the month, NaNoWriMo sent several messages. Tips for staying on track, finding motivation, what to do when you hit the brick wall of self-doubt. Basically, they equip you with what you need to know to finish the challenge successfully. So, I took everything I learned and applied it to Wattpad’s first #JustWriteIt Challenge, which mimicked NaNoWriMo. I wrote 50,000 words during the month of February and I did so with help from the pep talks I received during the month of November. Wattpad was also kind enough to send words of encouragement throughout their challenge, just like NaNoWriMo. When it was all said and done, I ended up with an 85,000-word gritty, new adult manuscript called Fast Lane which is currently being featured on Wattpad in all of it’s first draft glory!
Think you want to give it a try? Here are some simple tips that helped me along:
1.) Start preparing long before November 1st. Plot your draft, even if you’ve never plotted before. It will come in handy when you sit down to write. Life happens, and if you miss a day you’re going to find yourself behind (or as I like to say, totally screwed). Knowing where your story needs to go will help push you along the way. It might even deter writer’s blocks—if you believe in that sort of thing. You can research the many different ways writers plot, or you can do what feels most comfortable to you. Just make sure you make that outlines—you’ll be happy you did, in my humble opinion.
2.) Check out the NaNoWriMo forums. They contain a wealth of information. I’ve also stumbled across some helpful threads on sites like Wattpad. It might seem a bit overwhelming with all that information being thrown at you, but take what you can from it and apply it to what you need to do.
3.) Do not, let me repeat that, DO NOT compare yourself to others. It will kill your creativity. Just do what you do and stop worrying about the next guy. It will get you no where fast.
4.) DO encourage others. NaNoWriMo can be a very stressful time. Help relieve some of that anxiety by being supportive and encouraging. What comes around goes around, you know what I’m sayin’? And wouldn’t you like to receive some love?
5.) Write. Every single day. Write, write, write. Make an appointment with yourself and do not miss it. Once you fall behind it might be difficult to catch up.
6.) Have fun! This is a personal challenge, not a televised race. And it’s all based on the honor system. You are under no obligation to show your work to anyone, although you can enter in your daily word count on the website to help you keep track. And don’t forget you’re free to write about whatever you want: any subject, any characters, any languages—the sky’s the limit!
Now go sign up and get started, and best of luck. I hope to see you at the finish line!