In less than 48 hours, the rush of adrenaline will pump and as the clock chimes midnight, hundreds of thousands will plow across the starting line of the annual and popular NANOWRIMO. National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write a 50k word novel in thirty days or less.
While each year, the number of participants increases, oddly enough the percentage of winners (Those who actually write 50k in thirty days) remains the same. Roughly only 15% will achieve the goal.
First, let’s establish you’re a winner for attempting it. It takes guts and not just talent. Many won’t even try. This will be my 12th year, but only tenth officially. It took two years to get the balls to actually join the site. I have finished every year. My shortest time was 12 days, longest was 26. But I usually finish on day 19. I know this because it’s my twins’ birthday.
50,000 words is really not a lot. But to do so in month with kids screaming, school activities, holidays, family and a full time job, it’s a feat. I am not the norm. Because 50k words is my typical month, so I try to step it up and challenge myself. Hence completing it faster.
Again, it is not easy. So I devised a list of pointer for someone who is new and may need some guidance on how to complete NANOWRIMO successfully and survive.
You are successful for registering and attempting the competition whether you finish or not. Remember that.
While you can’t write anything before November first, you can outline.
Think of what you want to write, where it will take place, who will be in it and CHARACTER NAMES. Design your setting, your main characters. Get that in your head.
Have three things ready to start your first writing day.
Environment/setting, Story Foreshadowing, Main character introduction. I know it sounds lame, but if you think about these three things, and what you want to say, you can start your book with a sprint. Three simple items.
Your first page can have the environment (It was a dark and stormy night) And you go on to describe it.
You can start with Main Charter Description and character development (Mary was sweet and charming, she had three animals that she loved)
Or start out with a foreshadowing event. (The blade sliced through the throat of the animal and blood poured onto Mary’s feet)
Pick one to start with and then go with the other two right after. You have your start. THEN….
I can’t stress enough. Outline. Outline, Outline.
Even if it’s a shitty outline, do it. This is a major key to finishing NANOWRIMO. I’m very serious about this. Every day, before you write or after you are done. OUTLINE 5 points you want to achieve.
Example: Mary goes to the store
Mary sees a stranger.
The store gets held up.
The man takes Mary
Mary is in the kidnappers car scared.
Each of those points are basic, but you can expand upon them greatly. Outline. End your day with what you want to write the next time you write.
Write for the story and not the word count.
NANOWRIMO is all about word count, 1700 word a day. But if you outline, and set a point of finish. Meaning, you’ll write until you get to this point in your outline, you will see that word count increase rapidly.
Avoid massive amounts of caffeine.
I know it’s tempting to stay awake, but Caffeine, (as much as I love it) makes your hands weaker and more prone to an awkward typing. The hyper causes loss of focus. Not to mention it makes you have to pee more. So how do you get energy? Sour foods. I kid you not. Eat a pickle, Cut one up and have it handy. Sour food will spike your writing energy.
Don’t go on a writing binge before bedtime.
You’re gonna lose sleep as it is, why increase your chances. If you are on a writing binge, stop a half an hour before bedtime, wind down with outlining and reading.
Stop in the middle of a chapter.
If you stop in the middle of a chapter it gets you motivated to finish when you fire up to write the next day.
Write the story, worry about the technical aspects later. You can always add, take out and tweak later. Finish the story, put it away for a month then pull it back out.
Again, you rock for even attempting it. Finish line or not. You win. Join me through the month for progress updates. Good luck!