It’s November, which once again means it’s National Novel Writing Month, more commonly known as NaNoWriMo. The challenge requires writing at least 50,000 words of original fiction during the month of November with daily word goal of more than 1000 words! Though the month is about a third over, it’s not too late to get back on track or even begin the challenge.
To help you stay the course, we share some tips to ensure you meet your goal.
Make An Outline
I’ll be honest, I kind of hate outlines, but they can be very effective for planning out the rest of your story. This doesn’t need to be an exact scene by scene telling of the entire story, but jotting down some notes here and there of key points or scenes can help you focus your narrative. Sometimes scenes seem so clear in your head, but it can be hard to get it to translate on paper later when you sit down to write. Making an outline or taking notes can help with focus and clarity when it’s time to try to hit the word count for the day.
It’s okay to skip around the narrative when you’re writing your story. The story you write for NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’s okay to go back and fill in the details later. If there’s a specific scene that you’re itching to write – do it. Whatever you need to do to hit your daily word count is fine, whether it means writing the ending first or writing scenes out of order. Write the part of the story that interests you that day because it’ll be easier to get words out if you’re invested in the scene.
I know it’s hard, but one of the best ways to hit your word count is if you don’t edit as you go. Even if you want to submit your story for publication in the future, there will be plenty of time for editing once the challenge is over. NaNoWriMo is about hitting a word count and writing a novel, not about having a perfect first draft. You can even fill in details and descriptions once the challenge is done if they’re not coming out the way you’d like. If you’re stuck, move on, but don’t erase your progress just because it didn’t come out perfectly the first time. Self-editing along the way is something most of us are used to doing, but try to do as little of that as possible since the challenge is about the number of words, not the quality.
Distractions can be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. If you’re stuck or momentarily not feeling inspired, it’s easy to go online and become distracted by something else. When you sit down to write, disconnect for wifi or even write on paper instead of your computer. It’s easier to minimize distractions if you have nothing to distract yourself with. If music or sound helps you focus, then make a playlist and focus on your writing, but if it doesn’t then try to find a quiet, comfortable place to write. The more distractions you’re able to shut out before you start writing, the easier it will be to complete your daily word count.
Even though it’s already 11 days into the month, it’s not too late to start over. Of course there will be ground to make up and the daily word count will be higher, but starting over is sometimes for the best. If you’re story isn’t coming out at all the way you want it to or if you find yourself becoming more passionate about a different idea, then follow your gut and scrap your first draft. It’s okay to start the month wanting to write one story but end up writing something completely different. Like I said, there will definitely be ground to make up, but if starting over is the difference between completing the challenge or not, it’s probably worth it to cut your losses and begin anew.
Writing 50,000 words in a month is no easy task, but it becomes even harder when you continue to fall behind. Whether this is your first time attempting the challenge or you’re a seasoned pro, it can be hard to stay on pace for 30 days between work, holidays, and other commitments. Hopefully these tips will help you stay on course and successfully complete NaNoWriMo. Though it might seem daunting, with some hard work, persistence, and lots of writing the 50,000 words goal is more than achievable.
Have any tips or tricks of your own? Feel free to share in the comments!