I’ve been writing for quite a few years, (20 years writing romance to be exact), but only in the last seven have I gotten serious about writing romance novels for publication.
Each year at this time for the last six years I’ve taken up the NaNoWriMo challenge. What in the heck is NaNoWriMo, you ask? National Novel Writing Month. It comes around every November 1st and it is 30 days of pure agony and torture for any writer who chooses to pick up the challenge, LOL. Your goal is to write at least a 50,000 word novel, 1667 words a day, from November 1st to November 30th. Yes, it is possible I promise, although I haven’t finished since the first two years I took up the challenge, I have actually done it the first two years I participated.
The July before I knew about NaNoWriMo, I gave myself my own challenge to see if I had what it took to become a serious writer. I lived and breathed writing from July 7th until July 31st and wrote an 80,000 word novel. I had no idea if I was coming or going. I got up at 8 a.m. every day that month. My keyboard was under my fingertips by 8:05 a.m. each day and I fell into bed between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. every night.
I know I lived life in there somewhere, because the children were alive and well, the house was still standing, and even though I was a bit dazed, I was still standing.
NaNoWriMo is not that harsh, but to me it is one of those things which challenge us as writers and I highly recommend it for the beginner, the professional, and yes, those writers who need to get back on track with their writing.
Tips for surviving NaNoWriMo.
Set a daily word goal. To just meet the minimum requirement of 50,000 words one must only get 1,667 words a day. Now mind you, if you skip a day here and there you are going to need to play catch up and 1,667 words are easier to get in for a day than doubling that and having to get in 3,334 words for a day.
Which this leads me to my next tip:
Plan your writing time around your schedule. I’m fortunate to have all the writing time I need seeing as all my children are grown now and hubby is on the road on ten day stretches. But I have been in the position where I had to steal writing time after the kids have gone to bed, or while they were at school, ect. So I do understand the time crunch a busy month like November can bring about.
Pick a time where you can give your imagination free reign with minimal distractions.
Plan your month. I mean every detail down to what kid has to be where at what time. Sure, unexpected things can and yes, usually do come up, don’t let that fluster you and steal your writing time. With the day to day things planned ahead, unexpected things are more easily handled.
Leave the internal editor in the closet. If you have to, tie him up, throw duct tape on his mouth, and close the door. The object is to write a first draft, not a final manuscript ready for publishing. And yes, you are going to have moments during NaNoWriMo that this part of you is going to say, “This stuff is crap. You really need to edit some of this. Or you need to toss this out and start over.” This usually will start peaking around mid-month. I’ve done this one time, my second year of NaNoWriMo, tossed out the story I was working on and started fresh. I DO NOT advise this, because the year I did this I had to write 50,000 words in nine days. Not good for the sanity. Keep pushing the mark, I can promise you the story is not as bad as you think it is. In fact, you will be pleasantly surprised at how well your story flows if you keep pushing the mark.
Keep plenty of fluids and snacks on hand. This may be your only substance until Thanksgiving. Where you will binge eat, talk about your characters to people who are looking at you as if you’ve grown a second head, and all the while you are biting at the bit to get back to the keyboard.
Here is the biggest tip:
Make family and friends aware you are doing this. Explain to them what it is, why you want to do it, and ask them in advance to please give you the allotted writing time, even though they cannot fully understand why you are writing a story in the first place, nor can they understand why you would torture yourself to take up a challenge like NaNoWriMo. I find if you explain how important this is to you, it does minimize the irritation when someone comes in and asks for your time and you gently remind them it’s your NaNoWriMo time.
With all of this, why do NaNoWriMo in the first place? Why torture yourself to write a novel in a month?
I asked myself this before, because after all I wrote an 80,000 word novel in twenty-five days. NaNoWriMo gives you a challenge. Pushes you to push the mark in your writing.
I’m a firm believer you lose it if you don’t use it. To be an author one should strive every day to write. NaNoWriMo gives you a sense of accomplishment whether or not you finish. It gets you in front of the keyboard, story foremost on your mind. These are highly important aspects for a professional author. Whether you are a published author or just starting out, NaNoWriMo breathes life into your writing world.
NaNoWriMo allows you to hold yourself accountable for your writing. It helps you learn to create writing goals, keeps you focused on an end goal. These are highly important for all authors no matter what stage in this game you are. It also goes one step further, it allows socialization in an isolated field. NaNoWriMo offers write-ins for your area, where you get together with other writers to spend time writing with others who’ve taken up this challenge. They have email groups, and friends lists. It allows you to be alone without being alone. It gives you contact with people who can understand completely what you are going through as a writer and a NaNoWriMo participant.
When November 30th arrives, you will be down to the wire. You will be a nervous wreck, pounding at that keyboard, to finish up those final paragraphs. But it is December 1st that will be the reward. You will get up that morning, a new breath of life to your writing will have been born. You will have a sense of accomplishment like you’ve never felt before.
Whether or not you finish NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words, you will understand more about yourself as a writer. You will understand your writing limits, you will refresh your desire to write, and you will be able to go into December with a fresh new writing plan that will take you through until NaNoWriMo comes around again next year J
To sign up for the NaNoWriMo challenge:
To keep up with me and my NaNoWriMo challenge:
Find me on NaNoWriMo: devonfireheart
To find me and my novels on Amazon: