Happy November everyone!
It’s that time of year where writers are coming together to support each other as we all try to hit 50,000 words in one month. Now, how you get that 50k is currently a highly contested topic. Some say you can only work on the one project and must do 50k in that. Others count blog posts if they’re active on blogs. Still others count school assignments (I’ve seen one person mention they do that so that they put school first and don’t fail out).
To me, the most important part of NaNoWriMo is the fact that you are writing and are taking steps to develop the habit. If you’re like me, you may not write 1667 words a day outside of November, but I do try to write every day (and I try to do around 1k a day).
On November 1st, NaNoWriMo and a variety of related things trended and I saw mixed reactions from the writing community. Some “professionals” bashed it and that kind of annoyed me.
What’s wrong with an annual event that encourages writers to work a little extra hard, push themselves a bit further? What’s wrong with an event that gets people interested in this craft of ours? Just because you’re a “professional” doesn’t mean you’re too good for NaNoWriMo.
Honestly? I’m using it as an excuse to catch up and get ahead on writing projects. 50 thousand words can go a long way towards helping me do that.
Enough of that little soapbox. Every NaNoWriMo, I like to do a bit with tips and tricks I’ve seen over the years that help people.
1) Don’t be a Pantser, be a Planner
This sounds weird, especially coming from me. I used to be the Queen of Pantsers. I’d have a vague idea and big dreams. And those two things would carry me about 20-30 thousand words. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with pansting, people do it every year and still win.
But from my experience, I do my best work when I plan. When I map out characters and do some research, and have a vague idea of what my end game is going to look like (but NaNoWriMo or not, I end up changing that several times).
Maybe it’s just having that security blanket and knowing I have a solid idea.
Earlier this year, I did a post about eating my words and how I was starting to outline. Take a look at that if you’d like some tips on my process.
2) Have Accountability
If you’re doing NaNoWriMo and haven’t already officially registered on the site, do it. The act of having to go on every single day and update your word count will keep you aware of where you should be vs where you are.
While you’re on the site, you can register for your home region. There you’ll have a ML who should be sending you words of encouragement every week or so and there are events where people get together. I’ve heard of people making lifelong friends. And even if the only time you get together is NaNoWriMo, by joining a region you have some people who are walking alongside you in this journey.
You could also ask your writing friends if they are doing it. If you already have a friendship, pushing each other to make the word count day to day might be easier.
3) Be Careful about Putting Pressure on Yourself
So what if you’re behind? So what if you haven’t even started yet? Yes, the official “win” is hitting 50k in the month of November.
But if you’re writing every day, you’re still putting words on the paper that weren’t there before and that’s the best win of all. To me, NaNoWriMo is a chance for writers to build the habit of daily writing. It’s to encourage all of us to tell a story that we might otherwise not have the chance to tell.
If you’re not where you want to be or where the site says you should be, be careful not to put pressure on yourself to get there.
Maybe you’ll catch up.
Maybe you won’t.
But you’ll still get words on the page.
NaNoWriMo picks 50k for it’s monthly count because that’s the traditional threshold where a story becomes a novel. Keep in mind that number isn’t set across the board and some consider it slightly lower and some consider it significantly higher (one of the highest I’ve seen is Hallmark Publishing which wants 65-85 thousand words).
That being said, there’s a good chance you could hit it and not be done. There’s a chance you could finish your story and not be there.
And that’s okay!
4) Don’t Fall into the Daily Word Count Trap
Sometimes, I even fall for this. I write in chunks that are pretty close to 1667 during NaNoWriMo. And sometimes, I wonder if my writing does a feel a bit disjointed because I’m so focused on getting to that magic number that I forget that the story needs to flow as well.
Be careful when you stop writing for a day that you bringing it to a reasonable stopping point and don’t trail off on the middle of a sentence just because you hit the word count.
5) Just write!
This may seem redundant. After all, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel WRITING Month. But the idea here is to write.
Your story seems rough and not up to your standards? Trust me, I know from experience right now that rough drafts are called rough for a reason.
But no matter what’s happening, just write. Are you having a bad day? Write. Is it a tough time in your life? Write.
This is a fun time where you can write and there are thousands if not millions of writers are all coming together for one goal.
Here’s hoping that any of you participating are having a great time. I’m rooting for you!
And if you do join midway because of this, good luck! I hope this helped!