It’s November! Welcome to National Novel Writing Month! If you’re one of the several people around the world who are ambitious enough - and possibly crazy enough - to embark on this journey, here’s some helpful tips to help you toward your goal.
It’s November, that means now is the time to write. Forget about editing and correct sentence structure, all of those things. For this one time in your life, throw the English book out the window, grab your pencil and word processor and just go at it!. The very point of NaNoWriMo is to write a novel in a month - 50,000 words! That’s a lot of words for most people and can be a really daunting task. What can make that task even more daunting is if you try and edit as you go. This is the one time in your life where being a perfectionist can stop you in your tracks and that’s not something you want.
So this is why I’m saying, toss that English book out. This month is purely for focusing on getting that story to paper. All of the editing and correct grammar can come next month. But for this month, let yourself free from those restraints and just tell your story. You don’t have to share it with the world yet and it doesn’t have to be perfect. But you do need to write it. So just write and leave the rest for December 1st.
2. Surround Yourself With Support
Aside from the word processor, handy notebook and lucky pen; the other tool that a writer and author must always have is a supportive cast. That means characters in your book that support the main character and real people around you to support you in your efforts. Surround yourself with these people - people who want to hear about your story updates and those who can encourage you to keep pressing forward. You need cheerleaders in your court and your can find these everywhere.
If your friends, family and coworkers don’t fall into this group, that’s ok! There are social media communities posting words of encouragement and there are even pep talks on the NaNo Website. Use these to your full advantage and get cracking. Post statuses on your Facebook, pictures of your word count on Instagram and excerpts on your tumblr. There’s motivation everywhere and it’ll only help you drive forward, because you can get this done! So make use of it and go for that goal!
3. Edit Out the Noise
Normal life doesn’t go away for the month of November, so distractions will come up. These can be things such as work, children, unsupportive friends and the like. While I suggested above to toss out the English and grammar book until December, there is a specific sort of editing you should do: getting rid of the noise.
This means that there should be a safe place for you to work on your novel in progress, where discouraging and progress killing people can’t touch. Be it a quiet bedroom and a laptop, a tree house in the backyard with wifi, or even just a set of headphones and your favorite Pandora station. Find the thing you need to create a little wall around yourself and do it as often as you need. Those naysayers out there who feel the need to point out your mistakes and the impossibility of the task at hand have no place this month. You have better things to pay attention to and a novel to finish!
4. Don’t be Discouraged
As you type away, working on your novel, there will be those around you who will make comments. You’ll see other people’s statuses talking about their plots, their word counts and their amazing accomplishments from previous years. These posts are another sort of motivation - so don’t let them discourage you.
Keep in mind that your novel and your accomplishments are your own. This means that no matter whatever heights others around you reach, that doesn’t mean your wins are any less important.
5. Keep in Mind the Goal
Ultimately, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write. It’s a way to spur people who have wanted to write a novel, to take it on while there’s an outpouring of support and several other people working toward the same goal. The stimulated work schedule gives you a hard deadline and several people racing with you to the finish line. In the end, it’s not the 50,000 words that matters, but the fact that you tried.
This may seem counter intuitive to the whole process, but it’s important to remember that the goal is to write the story. Not everyone makes it to the finish line in November and often times life and the real world can step in the way, and that’s ok. So, if the goal of 50,000 words turns out to not be doable, that doesn’t mean you’ve lost. It means you still get credit because you tried. In NaNoWriMo there are no losers, as silly as that sounds, there are only Authors and their works in progress. After all the year has more than one month.
And if it takes you more than a month to write your story, that’s ok too.
Sincerely - a participant who has not met the goal many years, but knows it’s still fun to try anyway.