For those of you who want to be writers, November is a perfect time to put your writing skills to the test. It’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so I thought I’d give you some pointers on the site and writing.
National Novel Writing Month is where writers from all over the world gather and write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. The only thing you win is the satisfaction of knowing you succeeded in writing a novel, and possibly gaining new friendships.
Before getting into it, I thought I’d share my experiences regarding NaNoWriMo. I had participated in 2008 and 2014 with success. My 2008 novel turned out to be my first publication in 2011; Net Switch, a dark, psychological suspense thriller. At the time, I was a full-time employee, so I know about the struggles in finding time to write. I’m currently working on my 2014 crime mystery novel, which will be a 2-book series.
1) Create an account on NaNoWriMo.org. Most people are wary of putting personal information down, but it helps other writers get to know you. Leave out where exactly you live. Let others know how long you’ve been writing, what type of genre you write, hobbies, books and authors you love. This is also a good time to add a writing buddy. If someone you know has signed up, get their exact username (a site glitch, so it must be accurate), pull up their profile and add them.
2) Then go to Regions – Find a Region, and search for the areas closest to you. The support of others, along with those nearby, is extremely helpful when writing. They also have write-in meetup places to join other NaNo participants.
3) Go to Inspiration – NaNo Prep and check out what’s available and convenient for you to do. Under Conversations, the Forums are another great way to connect with writers before, during, and after November.
1) Make an intention. Why are you doing NaNoWriMo? What is YOUR purpose? Then write it down and tape it somewhere visible on your computer.
2) If all you have are a few characters and a premise for a story, that’s all you need. Don’t be discouraged that you don’t have an outline or know how it’s going to end. Writing will decide character and plot. What you had planned doesn’t exactly mean your characters agree. Things will fall into place as your fingers tap away.
3) Write and don’t look back. Forget about spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation. Before I did NaNoWriMo, I constantly went backwards, editing sentences and paragraphs. This is about getting your story down. Editing comes later. Let the flow of writing happen. Let your characters’ hijack your thoughts and the plot twist whichever way feels right at the time. You can always change it later. You have a limited amount of time to get the story down.
4) When you need guidance or support, rely on the forum, your regions and buddies. As I stated in a previous post, I Want to be a Writer, it’s a journey of solitude, but it doesn’t always have to be. Reach out to others, and you’ll find there’s always at least one person feeling the same as you.
5) Don’t worry whether someone has more words than you, or if you think they’re a better writer. It’s not a race between writers. This is about YOU. Can you throw caution to the wind and write your butt off? Can you focus on your story and word count to finish on time? Like writing, this process is a journey of self-discovery.
6) If you fall behind, don’t panic and quit. That’s the easy way out. If you want to write, get your butt in a chair and refer to your intention. Remind yourself why you wanted to do this in the first place. When there’s no accountability or physical reward, people are okay with walking away from a challenge. Don’t! Your intention is just as important as public recognition. Make NaNoWriMo one of the defining moments in your life. What do you have to lose? Even if you decide not to work on your book for publication, you can say that you wrote a novel in a month.
7) Once you plug in your word count to receive your badge, take a break from the 50,000 words or more you have written before returning to it. Let it sit for a week or two, go treat yourself to something special, and then start revising. Revisions are what raise the word count, adds dimension to your characters, and meat to the story.
Good Luck! Write like the clap of thunder. Finish with the air of an Olympian.
Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? Would you like to add to this experience?
Self-Discovery and Narratives,