How to NaNoWriMo for Success


October is nearly over. For many this mean the leaves are changing, candy stocks are rapidly losing value, and excuses to dress up as Dr. Strange at the office are diminishing. For others this means something much more serious–the annual writing marathon NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

It is a holiday for word enthusiasts, fiction junkies, and indie writers the world over (at least the part of the world with internet). Though for being a month long holiday, it isn’t for the weak of heart. Many drop out of NaNoWriMo (like myself) with a half done book and 11 months of editing regret (not pictured, a completed first edition of Cloudsea [because it still isn’t done since last year]).

My time in NaNoWriMo last year did teach me many valuable skills, tricks, and techniques that could help out newbies to the world of competitive novel writing. Over the next month I will try to squeeze in some hints and articles about writing to help you along if you plan to take the challenge.

1024px-Livre_Ouvert By KoS

Firstly NaNoWriMo is considered a challenge because it is a lot of work. Your goal is to write around 2,000 words or more a day to meet a wopping 50,000 by December 1st. You are allowed to use any means necessary because it is a self challenge but it is still a feat.

Below are ideas you can implore to meet your goal and complete NaNoWriMo:

  1. Have a plan

    1. Make a list of story ideas and highlight or circle your favorite ones

    2. Create a ‘bubble’ chart or ‘web’ chart with these ideas to brainstorm

    3. Write out the big idea and any small ideas about your story overal

    4. Plan out your chapters, story arc, and major plot points

  2. Track your words

    1. Open a spreadsheet (like Excel or Spreadsheet in Google) and track your words per day (WPD)

    2. Keep track of these everyday and make sure you are on course for completing.

    3. Some veterans suggest counting down rather than up to keep it fresh and interesting

  3. Study up

    1. Read about the subject you will be writing on (it can give you extra ideas)

    2. Also check out books, movies, or comics related to your story idea

  4. Day Dream

    1. Imagine your story like it was a movie. Visual your characters fulfilling the plot

    2. Seeing this in your head and keeping it clear will make writing that much easier

    3. Listening to music that makes you think of your story can really help ideas flow naturally

  5. Exercise your body

    1. If you sit at a computer all November your body is going to hate you and your mind won’t be able to function fully

    2. Take walk breaks, go run, do some yoga, or chase your cat around the house with a plastic pink flamingo (it doesn’t matter just stay active)

  6. Exercise your mind

    1. Don’t let your body have all the fun! Remember to try brain teasers, play chess, do a crossword or anything to keep your brain in shape

    2. Just writing could make it overload and make you lose pace end of month

  7. Be social

    1. It may be hard to keep a normal social calendar but try to keep a few nights a week open to see loved ones and friends

    2. Talk to them about your project to stay excited and to have support

    3. Reach out to other writers on forums and NaNoWrMo’s website for extra support

  8. Come up for air

    1. While writing, try to keep a schedule of when you will break and when you will write

    2. You can’t always be writing but you shouldn’t take too many breaks either

  9. Keep your nose on the grindstone

    1. Allowing yourself ‘time-off’ helps you from getting discouraged but don’t allow yourself to play video games all night every night instead of write

    2. Even if you don’t want to push forward, try to free write or reread a section to stay focused

  10. Remember moderation

    1. Nothing is good in the extreme

    2. Try to pace yourself and keep moderation in everything you do

    3. Writing too much, playing too much, not sleeping enough, too much coffee can all make you miss your deadline

  11. Have FUN!

    1. This is about fun

    2. You can write a novel anytime but NaNoWriMo is about having fun while doing it

There you have it–11 tips to help you get started on your novel. Remember to come back often for more tips as NaNoWriMo kicks off for 2013. If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, please let us know in the comments below!

Good luck out there and happy writing!

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