Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo Helpful Hints

Today is November 3rd, and National Novel Writing Month is in full swing. Thousands of people sat down at their computers Monday at midnight and began their novels.

Never heard of it? Every year in November, hosts this spectacular event. Thousands upon thousands of people from all over the world, sit down and write. Not for one night, or even a week. We're talking about 30 days of literary abandon. The goal? 50,000 words, or the equivalent of a short novel, before midnight on November 30th.

Not only is this a personal feat, groups of people (which you can sign up to join) from towns, states, writing groups, etc. compete for total word counts. There are forums where you can socialize online, but be careful, they are a distraction. There are even get-togethers at local libraries and coffee shops, kick-off parties and wrap-up parties for those who desire human contact while they write.

What do you win if you manage to reach the 50k word goal in 30 days? Well, you get a big congratulations from the site, along with a badge to display on your facebook page, your website, or blog. Createspace also offers to have your manuscript printed and bound in rough draft. You'll get an amazing sense of accomplishment, AND a really sloppy, totally unorganized first draft of a novel. Don't worry, you can revise later.

There are over 100 Published NaNo Novels listed on their website!

In 2009, I completed the first draft to a novel. (still unrevised and untitled) In 2010, I participated, but couldn't quite finish. For a split second, I thought about doing it this year, but since I'm already deeply involved with my YA novel, I couldn't fathom starting another until this one is completed. Not to mention, I have a gazillion other projects, that have nothing to do with writing, going on in my life.

Since my next 30 days and nights are a little less stressed than those of you actually participating, I thought I would pass along a few tips that I've learned. If you aren't participating this year, but are thinking of trying it in 2012, you'll be prepared.

  • To reach 50,000 words in 30 days, a writer must write at least 1,667 words a day. Broken down like that, it doesn't seem so bad, right? But you must be diligent. Even if you go over the daily goal, don't take a day off from writing. You'll be sorry at the end when you're trying to catch up. Keep writing. Every day.
  • Before starting, it may be helpful to make a rough outline of your novel. The idea is to type by the seat of your pants and write whatever comes to mind, but it's helpful to have some idea of where your novel is going. 
  • Do not revise while typing. Nobody else, but you, will see this draft. Tape a thumb tack with the pointed side up, to your 'backspace' key. Do not let the editor inside you waste time by backing up and fixing anything. The thumb tack will help drive the 'point' home. Haha! Get it?
  • Turn off 'spell-checker' on whatever program you're using to write your manuscript. Those ugly red and green squiggles under your words will taunt you to play editor.
  • Stay away from the Internet until you type your daily goal of 1667 words. If you need to research something on Google, you can do it during revision.
  • If you like music while you write, make up a play list of your favorite creativity music.
  • Find other friends or family members to write with you. It's motivating and you can keep each other inspired.
  • Most importantly, have fun!
So, if you aren't participating this year, why not think about trying it next year? And if you are one of the thousands of people knee-deep in  the festivities-- What are you doing here? Get back to work! Lol.