November is only a few short weeks away. In the writing world, that means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is just around the corner. If you’re new to the writing community, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50k words during the month of November. While that won’t be a complete manuscript in most genres, it comes pretty darn close. So, should you participate?
The upside of NaNoWriMo:
We’re in it together.
Writing is mostly a solitary endeavor, so when we have an opportunity to participate in an event with other writers, it can be motivating. You’ll find this community online using #NaNoWriMo. There’s also the official website www.NaNoWriMo.org – they’re a legit 501(c)3. The site gives you all the information you need on how to officially participate. Your local writers group will likely host events as well, like regular coffee shop meet-ups and writing sprints, so seek them out for support and encouragement.
Kick start a new project.
This is an opportunity to really get ahead on your next project. 50k words is no joke. It’s a good chuck of a manuscript. When the timing lines up for me, this is the reason I participate.
Develop good habits.
In order to hit the word count, you’ll have to commit to a daily, aggressive writing habit. It may be too aggressive to maintain once November is over, but if you are able to carve out the time, you’ll have proven to yourself you can do it. You’ll also have created space in your daily life devoted to writing. Even if you can’t kick out 1700 words per day in December, you’ll know you can commit to something.
The downside NaNoWriMo:
My daily word count comfort zone is 1000 words. Sometimes I go over, sometimes under, but in general, when I’m working on a project, this is how I calculate my deadline dates. I also write, on average, 5 days per week vs. 7. If you commit to NaNoWriMo, you’ll need to write over 1600 words per day including weekends to finish. It’s a lot. Did I mention it’s stressful? It may prove to be too stressful, or simply impossible with your other life commitments. If the 50k goal is too daunting, you can still use the momentum of the event, and the support of the writing community, to set an achievable goal for yourself.
Prepping for the event:
If you decide to participate, here are some things to think about.
Plan your schedule.
I’m a rigid planner. My organizational system is OCD level nuts. I admit it. If someone wanted to mess with me, hiding my to-do lists would send me right over the edge. But, I’m a really productive person who, in general, doesn’t miss appointments or deadlines. If you are not a planner, I suggest you turn into one this month. Carve out writing time during your day and protect it fiercely. To do this, you’ll have to be organized in other areas of your life as well. Here’s a post I wrote a while ago on how I organize my life. Don’t judge! Maybe it will be helpful! 5 Tips on Time Management: A Busy Writer’s Guide.
Consider becoming a plotter.
There are many reasons I support the plotters of the world. You can read my thoughts here: The Case for Plotters. But, even if you don’t normally work this way, you may want to consider it for NaNoWriMo. By outlining your work ahead of time, you’ll spend those precious hours you’ve carved out of your day actually writing. That’s not to say you won’t hit a snag in the plot and have to take some time to think it through, but the more you’ve done ahead of time, the more likely you’ll hit your word count.
Let go of perfection.
From the very beginning, get in the mindset that your work may be much rougher than you prefer, even for a first draft. There will be plenty of time to complete and revise this manuscript in December and beyond. The goal is to put out a significant amount of content in a short amount of time.
Okay, there’s only a few weeks left. So, if you’re in, it’s NaNoWriMo prep time!