What can you do in 30 days? A lot of things.
You can lose some pounds, drive across the country, pick up a new hobby, declutter your entire house, or if you’re really crazy….write an ENTIRE novel. I only know this can be done, because I’ve done it. Twice.
Were they a magnificent literary masterpiece? No. Far from it. I actually haven’t dared read through them since I finished. But, the point of writing a novel in 30 days isn’t so much the actual novel that comes from it. Although, I’m sure plenty of great works of fiction have stemmed from the challenge, it’s more about setting a goal, giving yourself a deadline, and completing it.
As November approaches, I’m gearing up for my fourth attempt at writing a novel in 30 days and joining thousands of participants across the world during National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO.)
If you’re interested in joining me, I’ve got some tips,advice, and crazy good resources to make sure at the end of 30 days, you’ve written a 50,000 word novel, and live to tell about it.
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month
What is NanoWriMo?
From their “About” page :
On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.
How does it work?
The rules are simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Your challenge is to write a minimum of 50,000 words in 30 days. To put that into perspective, it’s about the length of The Great Gatsby.
To officially participate you’ll need to create an account and define your novel by November 1st.
Once you have an account set up, you’ll be able to track your word count progress, join in on forum discussions, read helpful articles, and connect with writing buddies, which takes me to tip number one.
Have a writing buddy.
I’ve attempted NanoWriMo three times. Each time has gotten a little bit easier, but I attribute lasts years success to having a writing buddy. We were both taking on the challenge and not only did it provide a little bit of friendly competition, but I had my good friend Jennie there for moral support and someone who was going through the same things I was. I can honestly say if I didn’t have someone else holding me accountable, I probably wouldn’t have finished.
So, the first thin you need to do – find a writing buddy. Or 2, or 3! One of the great things about registering with NanoWriMo is you have access to TONS of writing buddies. In fact, you’ve got one right here! Once you log in, search for me (AshleeHamblin) and send me an invite!
To plan or not to plan…
Once of the biggest questions that I start asking myself around October, is should I plan out my novel this year? The planner in my always says, “YES! YES! Plan out every little detail!” But, then the free spirited writer sneaks her opinion in and makes planning a plotting sound like a real drag and a great way to get stuck in a story that I don’t really love.
If you’re a planner, I say plot away. Draw maps, create character and location sketches, and jot down every little detail you can think of. Doing so will give you a great guide to write from each day.
If you’re not as keen on the idea of spending so much time outlining and crafting intricate diagrams, another easy way is to have a basic outline. This is going to be my approach this year. I have some story ideas floating around, but nothing that I’ve committed too. However, there is a basic novel structure and if you know what that is, it is so much easier to craft a story.
My all time favorite resource for this is Better Novel Project. There are so many amazing articles and outlines here, that you won’t need much else!
Stick to a schedule
This is the most important words of advice that I can give. Create a schedule – and stick to it! Set a specific time each day that you’ll devote to nothing but writing your novel. Be sure to pick a time when other distractions won’t be popping up. I’m a night owl and feel most creative in the hours after everyone has gone to bed. So, around 9:00 every night I pulled out my laptop and notes, lit a couple of candles, and took a couple of minutes to center and get in the writing zone.
Having this strict schedule and little writing ritual kept me on track all month. By doing it consistently, as soon as 9:00 hit my brain knew what time it was and I was easily able to shift gears from whatever I was doing before.
NanoWriMo isn’t just for writers.
Even if you’re not a serious writer or someone who’s fantasized about writing a novel, I would still encourage you to take on this challenge! It’s hard, and fulfilling, and you truly can learn so much about yourself. It’s a great way to strengthen your will power and test your limits. Plus….it’s really fun and you might just be the next best selling author!
- Have a writing buddy
- Follow an outline
- Set a designated writing time, and stick to it.
As we head into November, I’ll be sharing more tips and resources along the way. Keep you eyes out for those, plus some FREE worksheets to help you get organized and stay on track!
Have you ever done NanoWriMo? What tips would you share? Leave a comment below!