Post by Anayib Figueroa
NaNoWriMo, which stands for “National Novel Writing Month”, is a creative writing project that takes place over the course of the month of November, starting November 1st and ending at 11:59 pm on November 30th. During this month, some writers attempt to write a 50,000-word novel, while others choose to pursue other creative writing projects, like finishing a script or writing a series of short stories.
So what makes NaNoWriMo appealing?
Part of its charm is the sense of solidarity that comes with it, especially in knowing that there’s a larger writing community undergoing the exact same process you are. It also gives you a solid deadline to help hold you accountable and even if you don’t finish in time, it encourages you to write more than you normally would.
That being said, if you decide NaNoWriMo sounds fun and want to give it a try, here are a few tips I’ve learned through my own trials and tribulations, regarding how to not fail.
1. Set a realistic daily word count goal. Stick. To. It.
The standard daily goal for NaNoWriMo is 1,667 words (assuming you’ve chosen to tackle the 50,000-word novel, which for the sake of this tip, we are). If you stick to 1,667 words per day, then by the end of the thirtieth day, you’ll have a total of 50,010 words. While you can modify your goal based on your writing availability (because some days leave more room for writing than others), you need to stick to it so you can stay on track. Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to do better and write more tomorrow? Or are you just procrastinating and hoping that tomorrow will bring more inspiration on what to write?
2. Prepare ahead of time
Simply put, know what you’re writing. Thirty days is already a very limited amount of time to begin with, so taking a chunk of that time to try and hash out what your novel will be about—its plotline, conflicts, and twists—will set you back if you don’t do it quickly and efficiently. That being said, if you’re struggling to figure out what the story you want to tell is, get back to the basics and ask yourself: Who are your characters? What do they want? What is standing in their way? That should give you a foundation to start off with and just take it from there.
3. Schedule Time to Write
If possible, set aside a couple of hours every day during the month of November and dedicate that time exclusively to writing. Physically block out that time in your planner or your calendar and respect that writing time. That would be the best case scenario, but at the same time, I’m very aware of the fact that NaNoWriMo does not align itself well with the quarter system since it falls in an awkward middle ground between midterms and finals. So if you can’t afford to block out entire hours at once and you have to schedule your writing time around studying for exams, then so be it. Just be honest about when you will actually have time to write. Early morning, before you start your day? If you have the willpower to get up earlier than absolutely necessary, then why not. At the end of the day when you’re tired? Sure, so long as you aren’t too tired to form coherent sentences. Like I’ve said before, just be honest with yourself and find what times work best for you.
4. Find a support system
Writing is hard (duh), but it gets easier if you have people around you who are also taking on NaNoWriMo or who encourage you to keep writing because they want to know how the story ends. Find those people. It makes a world of a difference.
5. Use Your Available Resources
If after all of this, you still want to try NaNoWriMo, then here are a couple links to use along the way.
For more information on NaNoWriMo itself, go to their website. It answers FAQs, has a community of fellow writers, and also works as a source of inspiration to keep you going.
For a step-by-step outline to guide you during your month-long journey, check out Better Novel Project. They make writing a novel seem less intimidating.
All in all, good luck and may your inner muse be present, pleasant, and ready to work.