Conquering NaNoWriMo: A Writer's Guide to a 50,000-Word NovemberNov 04, 2023
With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in swing, a wave of eager and perhaps a touch anxious aspiring authors are embarking on a writing journey like no other. The mission? To craft a full 50,000-word draft in just thirty days. Daunting? For sure. Impossible? Absolutely not.
The origins of NaNoWriMo stretch back to 1999. Far from a solitary slog, NaNoWriMo is about community—writers worldwide taking on the same formidable task together. Local groups, online forums, and social media platforms become lifelines, offering support, advice, and camaraderie.
My own NaNoWriMo journey began amidst a bustling life of work and family. It taught me that determination can carve out writing time where you least expect it. This writing marathon is not about winging it on a whim; my power was being prepared. Outlining your novel's plot or key scenes in advance is crucial. Hitting a creative wall with no plan can be the difference between a NaNoWriMo win and a could-have-been.
Finding a dedicated writing space, however unconventional, can revolutionize your focus and output. My first NaNoWriMo saw me writing everywhere—from trains to hairdresser salons. That's the beauty of writing, it doesn't have to cost anything to begin with but your time, and if you can get into the right mindset, you can do it anywhere. And OK, I'm not saying I write my best work when there are distractions all around, but even if you're plotting your character bio, it's progress.
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Remember, the draft you produce in NaNoWriMo doesn't need to be flawless—it simply needs to exist. Perfection is the enemy of progress. When you find your writing momentum flagging after the initial rush of enthusiasm, change gears. Work on a different scene, dive deeper into your characters, or free-write your way through the block. Keep a 'scraps' folder for the words, scenes and descriptions that don't fit—you never know when they might come in handy for recycling.
Tried-and-tested strategies to conquer NaNoWriMo:
Pace Yourself: Break down the 50,000-word goal into daily chunks of around 1,667 words. It's less intimidating and keeps you on track. If you don't make your word count one day, just write extra words on another.
Build Accountability: Join forums, get a writing buddy, and celebrate daily victories, no matter how small.
Create Rituals: A cup of tea, an incense stick—simple rituals can signal to your brain that it's time to create.
And when you hit the inevitable slump, skip around your story. You're not bound to write sequentially—tackle the part that excites you in the moment. Keep the end goal in sight: a finished draft, honed writing skills, and a profound sense of achievement.
Success as an author is a marathon filled with hurdles. But hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Every challenge is an opportunity to become stronger. Keep writing, keep learning, and keep believing.
My own journey has seen its share of ups and downs. The lesson learned? Persistence is everything. After an early series didn't meet my expectations, I picked myself back up, pulled up my big girl pants and eventually secured a dream agent and a new publisher.
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Remember, writing is about moving forward, one word at a time. Keep at it, and I'll be here to cheer you on. Until next time, happy writing!
Taken from episode 7 of The Motivated Author podcast.
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