Tips For a Successful NaNoWriMo

According to my NaNo author page, 2013 is my 7th year doing NaNoWriMo. That’s crazy. I’m crazy. But anyone who tries to write a novel in a month—and succeeds—needs a certain level of craziness for sure. Especially if that month is one of the craziest of the year.

Let’s take a look at November: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, early Christmas shopping. Not to mention midterms for you high school and college students. That’s a lot going on.

But that’s the point.

Sure, it’s nice to have a complete first draft of a novel at the end of November, but the point of NaNoWriMo is that you, the writer, are sitting down every single day for x amount of time to write something. That string of write something’s will create a novel, one which you will have completed (or written a good chunk to) in 30 days. A lot of time writers complain that they don’t have time to finish a novel.

Well, NaNoWriMo is here every year to prove you wrong.

As a NaNo Veteran, here are my tips for completing the challenge:

  1. Break it up. 50,000 words is a lot to write in 30 days. It actually works out to 1,667 words per day, or around two and a half pages, single-spaced. Or three bouts of 600 words each day.  Or six 200-word sprints. If you type at 50 wpm, it should only take you a half hour to write your daily goal, or two 15-minute sessions. Those fifteen minutes could come from your lunch break, the collective time of television commercial breaks to an hour-long program—anywhere. Be creative. Breaking up the daily word count goal will make that 1,667 words look like a piece of cake.
  2. Don’t edit. Unless you have all the time in the world (or type ridiculously fast), you can’t write a 50,000-word novel in a month, keep up with your daily ins and outs (working, mothering, going to school, etc) and edit your work. You just can’t. To do NaNoWriMo, you must accept that what you are writing is a first draft, that first drafts are meant to be messy, and that you have all winter long to edit that first draft. It can be hard to shut off your inner editor, but to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, you’re going to have to.
  3. Write every day. It’s okay to take a day or two off, but I strongly suggest trying your very best to not let those days land consequatively. Every day you don’t write those 1,667 words is another day you fall 2k behind. And that 2k can add up pretty quickly. Then you’re stuck doing what I call the “10k weekend dash” bit, where you spend an entire Saturday or Sunday (or both!) doing nothing but getting some quality time with your word document. Point is: Write every day. Even if it’s only 500 words, write it down. You don’t have to hit the goal for the day, but writing only 500 of 1,667 words is better than writing nothing at all.
  4. Plan. On some level, planning is important. I’m a panster, always have been. But for NaNoWriMo, I’ve found that having some kind of outline, even if it’s just a list of scenes you’re going to write in the next five chapters, is key. On those days where writer’s block is creeping up on you from the sidelines, having that list will steer you in the right direction. That way, even if what you write is utter crap, you will have at least written—again, the point of NaNoWriMo.
  5. Build a buffer. In the first two to three days, the rush you feel of starting a new project is important to harness. Figure that you are not going to write much on Thanksgiving, or Black Friday if you work retail or plan to go out shopping. So on Week 1, give yourself permission to write 2-3k a day, because that buffer is so, so important to have.
  6. Connect with other WriMos: Go onto the forums and chat with other writers. Go to your regional meetings. Connecting with other WriMos just as crazy as you are will not only be fun, it will help the both of your realize you can do this. Connecting with writers is the best thing in the world, because writing is often a solo act. You are not alone. So go out there, find some other WriMos, and have fun!
  7. Have fun. NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a crazy, break-neck-paced ride. But it’s not meant to be stressful or horrific. If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right. Have fun. Enjoy what you’re writing. Don’t stress. If you run out of plot steam by 30k, go a little crazy. Add purple bunny rabbits. Add a talking horse that wears a top hat and travels through time and space. Add aliens. Add zombies. Hell, add vampires. Remember that you can always edit whatever you don’t like. JUST HAVE FUN.
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Why You Shouldn’t Stop

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Obtained from Pinterest.

Ten years ago (10 already?!), I, as an eighth grader, sat in Study Hall at my Middle School scrawling away at my notebook, discovering piece by piece how to write fanfiction. I didn’t know what fanfiction was back then, not really, but it was a story called “The Lost Granddaughter” and it was… well… pretty terrible. But aren’t all beginnings rough?

I don’t remember much about the actual process of writing that story, what sparked that first idea– just that it was a fanfiction for an anime I loved. I do, however, remember what kept me writing the next story, and the one after that, and the one after that. What eventually became a story which we’ll abbreviate as GOE, started as a question regarding morality mixed with a crazy dream. Again, I don’t remember much about the process of writing GOE, but I remember the spark, the need to write.

Is that how writing finds all of us? Does it appear once, spark, and if we catch the spark, the hobby turns into a need?

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Obtained from Pinterest.

It’s funny because I read about all these authors and writers who said they have been writing for longer than they can remember, and have been reading for longer than that. The truth is, I never liked reading. My grade school teachers could never get me to read anything. My mom will always say that it wasn’t until I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer (much to her dislike), and subsequently discovered the official companion novels, that I wouldn’t read at all. She says I went from picture books and required chapter books for school, to full-blown YA/Adult novels. Somewhere in there came fanfiction, and from fanfiction, came my original fiction works.

But it wasn’t all fun and games. I stopped writing altogether for a while. School got busy, I grew up. I had to get a job, and that job demanded late hours. Then I went to college and was flooded with so much new information, the thought of world-building a whole new playground into creation for my characters made migraines form.

So instead I dove back into fanfiction for nearly two years, writing way more than my fair share of seaQuest DSV stories. My friends laughed at my fandom choice, but the fact that the show’s writing wasn’t that great and that they were cancelled before they could finish the last season, leaving the story effectively cut short, was what drew me in. There were plots to fix, characters to finish inventing.

What sparked me back into writing original fiction was a combination of NaNoWriMo and the discovery of the writing community. Over the last year and a half, I dove head-first into that community, and have emerged a better writer for it. Not only that, but I have found amazing, talented, and ridiculously supportive critique partners whom I absolutely adore, and I co-blog with one of them. I have also written one new novel and queried two others. All of that in just one year having been connected to this community!

That is why I made this blog, in hopes that I can reach writers like me, who just need to that push, that connection to this community to really get going. To get motivated to write again, or to never stop. Don’t ever stop. Because you’ll never finish if you do.

Jumping Right In

Hello writers!

Are you ready to join me in all things writing today? Good. Because that’s what this blog is here for: to get us all in one place with the same purpose, and run with it. And today, I know what today is. Three big things are happening in the writing community today. If you’re not savvy to them, let me get you up to speed:

1. OFFICIALLY ONE WEEK LEFT UNTIL NANOWRIMO 2013! That’s right kids. There’s just one week standing in between you and thirty days and nights of literary abandon. Now is the time to swap NaNo names (you can find me under “xnitexmarex248”—I know, weird name, don’t ask!), update your novel info, and start procrastinating by exploring the message boards. I’ve already done some of that. Here’s my novel synopsis:

NaNo Synopsis

Be sure to check out #NaNoWriMo, @NaNoWriMo, and #NaNoPrep on Twitter to connect with other NaNos!

2. Today is the “action day” of Nightmare on Query Street, a pitch contest run by Michelle Hauck. The agents are scrolling through the entries AS WE SPEAK, making requests all over the place.

3. There are a ton of book birthdays today, including Katie Teller’s much awaited Kiya: Mother of a King!

That’s the round up for today of general things, but I wanted to leave you with a bit more.

Are you stuck on planning for NaNoWriMo? My critique partner sent me this beat sheet a while back, and it’s amazing. It’s Blake Synder’s Beat Sheet, and you can find it here. It has helped me so much not only in preparation for this year’s NaNo, but also in revising last year’s manuscript.

So, check that link out and sign up for NaNoWriMo! In the meantime, be sure to join those of us on Twitter in stalking the #nightmarequery and #agenttreat feeds 🙂

Intro|Don’t Stop

Dooon’t stop wriiitin’— er, writing. *coughs*

But really, don’t stop. Why? You’ll never finish that book if you do. “I have writer’s block,” you say. “I don’t think this is any good.” “I have no idea where this is going.” “How do I query agents?” “What’s next?”

That’s what I’m here to help you with. I’m here to keep you writing, to give you advice, motivation, a shoulder to support you. I, like you, know what it’s like to go at this thing called a “writing journey” alone—and it’s lonely. Be lonely no more. This blog will serve as a jumping point, a corner stone. Come here for help, motivation, and connections. Find people just like you, allow them to help you, and then help them in return.

There are contests, critique groups, pitch parties, blog hops, blog tours, NaNoWriMo, and a whole slew of other activities to Keep. You. Connected. To keep you motivated. To help you finish writing that book, revise it, and get it out there in the world.

So are you ready to join me? I hope so.