Are you considering writing a first draft of your novel for NaNoWriMo this year? If you haven’t heard, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place every November (If you’re wondering what the heck NaNoWriMo is, check out their website.)
Last year, I completed my first novel during NaNoWriMo. I’ve tried writing novels my entire life (I’ve started dozens of them–no exaggeration), but three things usually happen:
a) I get bored of the story before writing it.
b) I lack direction with myself and with the story (i.e., no goals, no outline).
c) I don’t work on the story consistently enough and have to reread everything before I can continue.
One of my childhood, teenage, and adulthood dreams has always been to write and publish a novel. I long to feel a book I wrote in my hands and smell the new pages.
However, I have major writing ADD (which is probably why I have managed to write hundreds of blog posts and articles, but only one novel). Whipping out a quick first draft was the perfect option for someone like me.
Last year, it occurred to me that I could do it. I could actually write a novel. I could write at least 1666.666 words/day if it were interesting enough to me, and I did enough work to prep.
I did lots of prep on a story, and then at the last minute, I changed my mind on what I was going to write. I wish I’d had more time to prepare the novel I wrote because it now needs a ton of work, but I don’t regret participating in NaNoWriMo at all. I had a blast, and 100% recommend you join with the thousands of other crazies who write a novel in one month.
These are a few things I did to prepare last year, and what I’m going to do to get ready for NaNoWriMo this year so that I can write a more tight-knit novel.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I could earn a small commission if you use the links. I only recommend a few items or services I love. See my complete disclosure.
Have the Right Mindset
Some people worry that writers who participate in NaNoWriMo think their novel will be ready for the press at the end of the 30 days. I went into November knowing that what I was writing would not be complete, but it’s probably good to continually whisper aloud:
This is just a first draft.
For my first NaNoWriMo, I wrote my draft and did not look back until I finished it. This is so hard for me. The backspace button is my best friend, but also my worst enemy. I know I’m not the only writer who has a hard time letting less than perfect words sit in a document.
In her book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says, “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper.”
Another thing to remember is:
YOU CAN WORK HARD.
Writing a novel in 30 days isn’t be easy, but completing this challenge brought me such a sense of fulfillment. I spent 30 days working hard to finish something I’ve always wanted to do. And to tell you the truth, it was easier than I expected. I am a fast typer, so that made completing my 50,000 words manageable.
When I thought of participating in NaNoWriMo, I knew I needed to talk to my husband. Whenever I have a goal or something I want to accomplish, his support is vital because our lives are so intertwined.
Whose support can you get? Who will cheer you on and remind you that you can do this? Don’t just keep it to yourself, thinking that people will think you’re crazy for trying to write a rough draft of a novel in a month. Talk to the people who will be your greatest support.
Getting to Know My Characters
Not knowing my characters well enough has resulted in problems in the past. This year as I participate in NaNoWriMo, I want to understand who they are to the core before I start writing. I’m confident this will help me write a lot quicker and more smoothly.
These two posts provide excellent ideas for developing strong characters:
This year, I plan to create an outline that details my story structure, as well as each chapter so I know I’m moving the story in the right direction.
I mentioned that last year I changed my mind about the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo at the last minute. I’d had an outline for my original story but didn’t have one for my new idea. Although I don’t regret writing my novel, I really wish I’d had a detailed outline. There were some mornings that I’d go to write, and I just had to start typing mumbo-jumbo because I wasn’t sure what was happening next.
If you’re anything like me, you may think that outlining takes the joy out of writing, but I promise it will help you win NaNoWriMo! Even if you create a super simple outline, you’ll be grateful when you’re able to whip out your 1,666 words without wondering where you’re going next.
This blog post describes four different methods of outlining. Are you going to outline your novel? If so, what is your preferred method?
Nothing inspires me to write well like a good book. As a busy mama, I don’t read as much as I would like to, but I plan to cram as many novels into my life as I possibly can before NaNoWriMo 2019 begins.
I also plan to sneak in some writing books. One of my favorites is Bird by Bird (which I quoted above). I’d highly recommend checking it out, along with 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter. I read this book last year, and it was simple but helpful.
What book(s) would inspire you? Is there anything in your chosen genre that you already know you love or something that you’ve wanted to read?
Coming Up With a Plan
If you write every single day, you’ll need to whip out approximately 1667 words each day.
What do you have going on in November? How can you plan so that nothing gets in the way of accomplishing your goal?
I don’t write on Sundays, but last year, it wasn’t hard to increase my writing amount every other day to make up for that.
If you don’t already write regularly, try to come up with a time of the day when it will be easiest for you to write as much as you possibly can. Do you think you could get all of your writing done in one sitting, or would it be better for you to split it up in a couple of sessions?
I would love to hear about your NaNoWriMo plans and journey! Describe your novel in the comments below! Visit me at @thehopefulwriterblog Instagram so we can share our NaNoWriMo progress.