Last year was my first NaNoWriMo experience, and I actually hit the 50,000 word mark and WON! If you are interested, it
was is a chick lit novel about a new mom figuring out all the craziness of trying to juggle her work, friends, marriage and motherhood, with many humorous twists throughout. No, I haven’t completely finished or published it. It’s sitting on my hard drive mocking me; but at least I hit the 50,000 word goal!
This year, I decided not to participate in the challenge due to time constraints and other commitments, but I am still inspired by the creative writing process and the supportive community that is NaNoWriMo. I love how writers of all ages, stages of life and from all over the world embark on writing a 50,000-word fictional story in under 30 days each year. I also love the team at the Office of Letters and Light that inspire writers to keep up their craft.
Office of Letters and Light
We believe in ambitious acts of the imagination.
The Office of Letters and Light organizes events where children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential. Our programs are web-enabled challenges with vibrant real-world components, designed to foster self-expression while building community on local and global levels.
Here is a wonderful article written by Thaïs Miller on the OLL blog: 10 Tips on Finishing Your NaNoWriMo Novel. Thaïs Miller is an author of novels, short stories, and poetry, as well as a writing instructor at Gotham Writers’ Workshop.
Here’s my advice for completing a 50,000-word novel within 30 days:
- Be confident, not critical. NaNoWriMo is about word count, not about perfection or style. Think of this as a first draft. Just produce, produce, produce.
- Write about an idea you’re obsessed with and can’t get out of your mind. Remember, your novel can always change tracks.
- When you’re tired of writing about that main idea, create subplots to fill pages. When I was sick of writing about the influence of a death machine, I wrote a love story subplot.
- Write scenes. Scenes with narration, dialogue, action, and description take up more space than expository information.
- Set a word minimum everyday. NaNoWriMo recommends 1667, but if you’ve fallen behind, increase that. Do not set a daily hour minimum because some days you’ll write more quickly than others. Tell yourself that you can’t go to bed until you reach that minimum number of words. Keep track of your word count by checking the number of words in your document at the beginning and end of each day.
- If you miss a day, then make up those words as soon as possible. Some people prefer to make up those missing words on the weekend when they have more time. Whatever you do, don’t wait until the end of the month.
- Don’t write linearly. Bounce around, writing scenes that occur at different points in the novel. During one week, for example, write a scene that takes place at the end of your story, then one that takes place in the middle, and one that takes place in the beginning. This keeps you interested in the material and prevents you from feeling stuck. Leave markers for areas that you want to come back to and fill in. On days when you feel uninspired, go to these markers and start writing those missing scenes.
- At some point, it doesn’t really matter when, create an outline to organize your scenes.
- Don’t delete anything unless it’s 100% necessary to make the novel seem cohesive or coherent. Erasure will move you in the opposite direction of where you want to go. Temporarily cut scenes instead and save them in a different file. You never know when an extraneous scene might become useful. If you do delete a scene, then replace it.
- Find a quiet writing space that you can regularly use like a public library or a bedroom. One of my colleagues even writes in a closet. Try not to piss off your roommates.
I will likely participate in the NaNoWriMo challenge again next year, so if you’re inclined to, I highly encourage it!