Monday, October 24, 2011

How To Win NaNoWriMo 2011

In 8 days National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) will be upon us.   Writing 50K in 30 days is no small feat but it's absolutely achievable. 

Here are the Minxes' ten top tips for winning NaNoWriMo:

1. Sign up.  You can sign up on the official NaNoWriMo site to keep track of your word count, download badges and other fun things.  You'll also find a copy of the official rules, so you can get a better idea of what to expect.  Alternatively, keep an eye out at the Harlequin forums for their version of NaNoWrimo (you can pick your word count goal for the month).  Or, sign up for both.

2. Get supported. Tell your family and friends what you're doing, or at least warn them that pizza is making a comeback and they could be required to be responsible for keeping themselves alive. Also, having a support network and encouragement helps.

3. Work out your word count.  The world's not going to stop while you do NaNoWriMo, so if you have a big event and know that you're not going to get your 1.7K written that day, you’ll need to find a time to make that up. If you work out how many words you need to write each day around your commitments and stick to it, you’ll have a completed draft of 50K novel at the end of the month.

4. Steal time from your schedule.   Here's where you can get creative.  You may not have significant blocks of time to write but if you can snatch 15 minutes while you’re commuting, on your lunch break or before dinner then you'll find that your word counts starts to add up.  There's also very little in life that can't be put off for 15 minutes.  

5. Prepare.  While the rules state you can't start writing your novel until midnight November 1.  But you can plan it, plot it and identify your characters before then.  You don't have to be a plotter and get the manila folders and label maker out (but by all means do if you wish), however, having your character names and a general idea of what you're writing each day will help. 

You can take this one step further with character sheets, sketches or collages, and chapter summaries.  Chapter summaries are a great trick for NaNoWriMo because the less time you have to spend thinking about what comes next in your story, the more time you have to do the writing and reach your daily word count goals.

6. It doesn't have to be perfect.  NaNoWriMo founder, Chris Baty, is a big fan of just getting the words down.  If you're having a day when you absolutely cannot work out what to write next he suggests adding a spaceship.  The spaceship may have to go in the first round of edits but it'll keep your word count growing and may also help you work through your plot problem.  Also, if you find yourself on a tangent, explore that tangent, explore the world, you'll be surprised about what you can discover about your characters and their conflict this way. Just don't give up.

7. Go on an edit detox.  There's no time for editing in NaNoWriMo, that comes next month. You may be tempted to go back and reread what you've written but at most, you’re allowed to reread the last couple of paragraphs before you start writing each day. Reading from the start of a chapter or chapter one is banned. Editing can be your downfall.

8. Beware the week 2 blues.  Everyone hits a wall about week 2.  Suddenly the writing's harder, everything's garbage and you start thinking about regrouting your kitchen tiles. It could all be garbage (unlikely) but if it is it doesn't matter.  The point is to push yourself beyond your normal limits.  There's a lot to be learnt about your writing and writing process from NaNoWriMo.  You can’t edit a blank page!

9. Upload. Make sure you record your final word count on the NaNoWriMo official site before midnight November 30 so that you are considered an official winner and can access their winner blog badges.

10. Don't be too critical.  If you finish NaNoWriMo be aware of your achievement.  You've just done something that most people only talk about, you've written the draft of a novel and you did it in a month! Get the champagne out.

If you didn't get the whole 50K down, don’t throw in the towel. Your word count will be a lot higher than it would be if you hadn’t taken NaNoWriMo on. Writing 50K in 6 weeks is just as impressive and your draft will still be finished by Christmas.

Either way, you’re going to need a lot of champagne.

Are you NaNoWriMoing this year?


Aimee Duffy said...

Yup, I'm in. Can't resist a good challenge. Have my story plotted out and I'm just itching to get writing it.

Christina Hollis said...

NaNoWriMo is a brilliant idea and I love your tips. Good luck to everyone involved!

Caroline said...

I've bitten the bullet and signed up! Caroline x

Lacey Devlin said...

Aimee - Good luck!

Christina - Thank you :-)

Caroline - That's excellent news! I'll be cheering you on.