Friday, October 20, 2017

NaNoWriMo Hints

November is important for Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, but for writers it is important also for National Novel Writing Month, commonly referred to as NaNoWriMo.

Those who attempt the 50,000 words in 30 days, find it challenging to write an average of 1,667 words every day of the month. When there is an opportunity to type more than that, take advantage of it. This challenge is exhausting, but also fun and productive.

Writers in Carroll County, MD gathered
together in Taneytown for a 2016

If you want to try NaNoWriMo this year, you can start planning ahead of time, writing a rough outline, deciding on who your main characters will be, your setting, time frame and main plot. It is also time to do any research that might be necessary for your proposed book. Additional research can wait.

Some writers say you should know your theme before you start writing. Others swear it doesn’t matter. It will develop later as you write.

Do not start actually writing the book until November 1.

Some of my friends, don’t register at the NaNoWriMo site, but still try to write the 50,000 words, because it still challenges them. Some want to continue a story they had already started.

I think it helps if you register, even if you don’t complete the challenge. This gives you a firm commitment. Also, you will be sent motivating messages and hints from famous writers. You do not have to write your novel on their site. I never have. I just update my count periodically. Information about your novel, word counts, etc. can be posted on the NaNoWriMo website at

You just have to post your story on the NaNoWriMo website at the end, so the 50,000 words can be verified. If you don't succeed, you still have that much of a story ready to go, probably a lot more than you normally write.

Don’t worry if your story starts to change as you write. That is all part of the process, the purpose is to just write, as much and as fast as you can. As you write quickly, the story flows. There is time for editing later.

If things changed a lot, you can choose which version you like best or which best fits the action and theme of your novel.

This practice of intense writing is critical to becoming productive writers. It also can help you find your voice. Since you do not change your words constantly, but writing what you are thinking, you can improve upon it later.

Some books I recommended in the past about writing rapidly include:

  • Book in a Month, the fool-proof system for writing a novel in 30 days, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, Ph.D.
  • If you want a little more time, there is The Extreme Novelist, The No-Time-to-Write Method for Drafting Your Novel in 8 Weeks. She promises “Out of chaos will come beautiful order and an amazing book. But first you have to write rough.
  • No Plot? No Problem!, A Low-stress, High-velocity Guide to Writing A Novel in 30 Days was written by Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo. He started the program in 1999 with 21 people. By 2004 it was up to 25,000 participants and in 2014 it increased to 325,142 participants. In 2016 the number of people taking part increased to 445,179.
At the end of November, you can have a rough draft of a novel. That is a huge accomplishment. Even if you don’t write 50,000 words, you have the start of a book. After the 30 days, take a break. Let life get back to normal before you start editing.

If you don’t like to be too isolated you could attend some Write-ins. They are held at various locations, times and places during the month, such as at libraries and coffee shops. It is a way for writers to stay in contact with each other, socialize and get more writing done then they possibly would have alone.

I have written other blogs about this month for writers. You can check out:

·         11/27/16          Writing a Book In a Month or Two
·         10/21/15          NaNoWriMo 15, No Plot? No Problem!
·         11/13/12          NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo is about quantity, not quality. This and similar programs that stress output offer us a chance to push yourself. No one is going to criticize you if you do not finish.

I reached the goal three out of six times. One book is almost ready for publication, except for some final editing. Another is more than half finished with a rough outline of the rest of it. I may return to some of the others in the future, as time permits. Each effort has helped me learn to write faster.

By December 1, you will have tried something new and have something tangible for your efforts. Remember, these are your words, your thoughts. Write and have fun.

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