Time and sanity permitting, this year I’m hoping to mentor one or two NaNoWriMo newbies to help them reach their writing goals for the month. Last year, I had a mentor myself and it made the entire experience a lot more fun. I’ve found the camaraderie to be one of the most important parts of National Novel Writing Month.
In order to get a head start on sharing what I learned last year, I thought I would list a few tips here on my blog in hopes that I might help others as well.
- First and foremost, get excited! Yes, NaNoWriMo can be a lot of work and quite time consuming but it’s a blast! There’s nothing like knowing that writers all over the world are pumping out fiction just like you. Feed off that frenzy and get pumped about completing the writing project you’ve been putting off forever.
- Make friends. There are thousands of people that participate each year, all with their own experiences, excitements and roadblocks. Get involved in forum conversations, mentoring and word wars and you’ll be much more likely to spend more time writing each day, in turn reaching your goal even faster than you knew you could.
- Outline. I know there are some people who prefer to “pants it” but with the time constraints of writing 50,000 words in a single month, you don’t have time to get stuck. You can create an outline as simple as a paragraph hitting the key points or as detailed as a scene-by-scene. As long as you know the goal/theme of your novel and where you’re going with it, that should be enough. Do whatever is most comfortable for you.
- Alert the media! Tell everyone you know that you’re participating. You’re going to be neglecting spouses, friends, family (your boss?) and you’re going to need their support and understanding. I like to promise them they get to read it when I’m done and that’s usually enough to keep them from dialing my number for idle chit chat.
- Carve out time and space. Try to pick out a good time of day and a good area of the house (or coffee shop) where you’re least likely to get interrupted so you can make the most of the time you get to write. Make your space comfortable and inspiring.
- Write ahead. There will be days when you swear you’ll die if you have to look at your computer screen for one more minute. Give yourself a break. Write ahead on the days you’re able to so you can take a day or two off throughout the month. You do have Thanksgiving to think about and you might want to spend it with your family (personally, I’ll take any excuse to get away from the crazy bunch). A great way to start is to write an entire day’s worth of words at midnight on November 1st, then wake up and write another 1,667. It will be the first day and you’ll already have a whole day’s cushion!
- Think about tomorrow’s writing today. After you finish today’s writing, think about tomorrow’s writing in the shower or in bed before you go to sleep. If you have a general idea of the scene you’d like to jam out next, you’re more likely to be excited about writing it instead of putting it off, and it will be easier to do since you’ve already planned out the setting/conversation/action ahead of time.
- Reward yourself. I’ve heard of M & M’s for every 500 words or a night out on the town after the month is done. Whatever motivates you and in whatever increment, create rewards for yourself–it helps you track your progress and nothing motivates you to get more done than to see what you’ve already accomplished.
I hope these tips will help make your NaNoWriMo a success this year. Keep in mind that success can mean whatever you want it to. For me, I like the goal of 50,000 words (which I did complete last year–check the cool guy badge on my profile) but for others, just getting more written on a project than before is enough. Others still don’t think 50k is enough and shoot for 100k, 200k…some even write a million words! Figure out what success means to you and stick with it! You can’t imagine how proud of yourself you’ll be when you reach your goal.
For those who have also participated in NaNoWriMo, do you have any tips to add?