NaNo: Why I’m Participating This Year

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Though I’ve been writing for over a couple decades, this is the first year I’ve decided I’m going to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNo for short). So why now?

It’s All About the Timing

In years past, I’ve eschewed NaNo because it happens to coincide with one of the busiest times of years for me. While the concept of having a month of highly motivated butt-in-chair-work is a good one, November typically tends to be too crazy of a month for me to participate. But as it so happens, this year I have a work-in-progress (WIP) that needs finishing. And it needs finishing sooner rather than later. November lines up with that beautifully.

What’s more, I really need the extra motivation to clear my schedule and just get the work done. That’s one of the more appealing aspects of NaNo for me, so I’m taking full advantage of that.

Here’s how I plan to make the most of NaNo:

Prep, Prep, Prep for NaNo

My need to use the month of November to draft has come about for a bunch of reasons: my inability to get along as far in my WIP as I had hoped, the death of my laptop in October, plot points that held me up, etc.

While I was unable to get the amount of writing done, what I did instead was prep. The older I get, the more I find it necessary to do a certain amount of pre-writing for each book I write. There’s a part of me that still very much enjoys the “pantser” approach to writing: not doing any prep and letting it come to me as I go.

But, unfortunately, I’ve also found that the “pantser” approach has a major flaw for me: plot holes. The more I tend to pre-write in advance and work out the major points of the plot, outline, and come up with character arcs, the more effectively I’m able to write without getting stuck. Here’s more on why you may want to consider outlining your work: The Case for Plotters.

More Not Less

For my needs, the words-per-day minimum is actually a bit low for NaNo (1667). My goal is to write about a 100k book. The way I write, I tend to find that words-per-day work a little less effectively than words-per-week, so my goal instead is to write a minimum of 3,000 words-per-day or 25k words-per-week. However that ends up getting spread out in that time period, so be it.

Dedicated Writing Time

Whenever I’ve actually accomplished the goal of writing such a large amount during such a short period, it’s usually been done through dedicated writing time. For me, it’ll mean having an hour in the morning to do some writing and then writing in the evenings after my kids have gone to bed. Because of the prep work I’ve done, it usually makes it easier for me to sit down and focus on the next scene during these dedicated time periods.

Maintain Flexibility during NaNo

I’m a huge believer in flexibility (see my words-per-day paragraph), so it’s important for me to maintain a level of flexibility even if I have a huge drafting goal. Whether this means writing longer one day so I can have free the next or recognizing signs of burnout and tending to them: flexibility breeds creativity. Push yourself too hard and you might find yourself unable to accomplish your goal. Remember, the fun and enthusiasm you’re having writing will probably translate to the page.

So that’s it! I’m going to be tackling this large project all of November and hopefully, I’ll come out a NaNo Winner. I’ll catch you on the flip side. Good luck!

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About Author

Annabelle McCormack is an author and photographer from Baltimore, Maryland. When she's not busy writing, she's chasing around her five kids and enjoying life in the country. To follow her journey, check out @annabellemccormack on Instagram, where she posts regularly about her adventures.

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