November has been National Novel Writing Month for me for a few years now.
Back in 2011, I was a writing community newbie and heard the word NaNo getting thrown around and I had no idea what it was. Then I began seeing that several of my friends had won NaNoWriMo, and I thought how amazing they were at winning something that was so widely talked about. It must be big! Now, those friends who win or take part in NaNo are still amazing, even though I know what it is and anyone who completes it – wins it!
It’s not an easy thing, bear in mind.
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month on many writers’ calendars and to win it you must write 50,000 words in the month of November. 50K – that’s 1,667 words per day throughout the entire month. In 2012, when I first signed up it felt like a huge mountain, and I had no idea if I was fit enough to climb it!
I’d already written several manuscripts and one published book and would be rereleasing my first novel, Beneath the Rainbow, a year later, so I knew it was possible, but I had never ever written a book in one month… Could I do it?
I had a sequel in my head for Rainbow and I spent October planning Beneath the Old Oak. I took advice from other writers: cancel all your plans for November, plan easy meals, keep your family informed (their support is vital), stay positive, and keep writing.
NaNo is not about writing a book, or at least not a full, polished, finished book. NaNo is about writing your first draft, and we all know first drafts are all about getting words on the page, letting the story flow from your fingers, and allowing your imagination complete freedom.
The months after November will be for rewrites, editing, deleting, pulling your hair out, worrying about plotlines that don’t work, honing the words, adding, altering, and fixing… November is for getting words into a draft.
So, how do you do it?
Simply, by writing.
Some days you won’t feel like it, but write if you can.
Don’t worry if you fall behind, you can catch up on a good day.
Don’t worry if you don’t complete 50,000 words, any words, any words at all are positive and moving forward.
See it as a personal goal, don’t compare. My first year was tough, I didn’t think I’d do it, especially as I watched friends zooming through, but I made it, just.
Treat yourself, chocolate works.
Have a great support network. Your family needs to know what you are doing, it will pull you away at times as you let your muse inspire and flow. If dinner doesn’t arrive on time, or the bins haven’t got put out, it’s not the end of the world…order takeaway, beg someone else to do the rubbish, or catch it next week. Writing Community friends are also magic. Their words, commitment and progress can help fuel and enthuse you.
Take time out… go out, leave the house, take a walk (November is full of autumn goodness and crunchy leaves!), watch a movie, read a book. Sometimes your muse will overwhelm you with words, and sometimes you will struggle to find her!
But, the best advice, just write.
In 2013 I wrote Beneath the Distant Star during NaNo then took a break for a couple of years. This year, 2016, I was raring to go with a project I’d held up for years, and this time my words exploded out of my fingers, completing my 50,000 words in just 19 days, and I’m still writing…this is a longer book than my others and I’m loving writing.
I believe my success this year is down to the fact that I originally wrote this book way back in the early 2000’s and then left it alone. I know the story inside out, but I had to throw out the old manuscript and completely rewrite from scratch. An old framework, but a brand new concept and one that excited me immensely to write!
The discipline of NaNo inspires me and works so well for me. I’m a writer who gets distracted – a lot. So, keeping a timetable, turning off apps, ignoring the internet, and just writing is something that works and I hope this year I can continue the habit over the following months. I have two more books planned in this series, and have already spent months world-building, restructuring plotlines, characters, and backgrounds, and I can’t wait to write.
If you’re still writing, keep it up and let your muse stay close…
Keep those words flowing!
Have you taken part in NaNoWriMo, how did you do?
Would you love to have a go?
What are your tips for getting through a month of intense writing?