Write It Sideways

3 Novel-Writing Alternatives to NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is all about sticking your butt in a chair and writing your pants off for 30 days, until you reach 50,000 words.

While there are a lot of advantages of taking part in NaNoWriMo, you don’t necessarily need to sign up for the official challenge. During the month of November, you can still use NaNoWriMo principles to spur you toward your ultimate goal of writing a novel.

If you decide the official NaNoWriMo challenge isn’t just what the doctor ordered, why not try one of the following novel-writing alternatives?

1. Outline a novel

Maybe we could call this one NaNoPlanMo.

Yes, you could spend an entire month outlining a novel you plan to write in the future.

Start by grabbing a copy of Larry Brooks’ Story Structure Demystified, and study it from cover to cover. Then, research the basic information you’ll need to write your story. Make character sketches.

Devote at least one hour per day, for 30 days, to outlining your story, and I guarantee writing the thing will become exponentially easier.

2. Finish your first draft

Are you in the midst of writing a novel?

The NaNoWriMo official rules say you have to start from scratch, but that doesn’t mean you can’t finish writing the first draft of your novel on your own this month.

This is what I intend to do. At the beginning of the year, I said I wanted to have finished my novel by the end of December. I set my sights too high considering the whole baby thing, but I am very close to having a solid first draft of my novel completed. One month of putting my nose to the grindstone could see it finished.

3. Resurrect your drawer novel

You  know the one—the one that’s been sitting in your drawer or hard drive for months or years. You’ve completely given up on it despite knowing it has potential. Why not take one month to plan an overhaul? You may not even need to do any writing at this point because the entire problem with the book may be an initial lack of planning.

What are you doing this November?

November may be National Novel Writing Month, but if a 50,000-word-blurt isn’t going to get you closer to your ultimate writing goals, then choose an alternative that will.

Let’s take 30 days to do something great, even if we don’t have a badge to show for it.

What are you doing to further your writing goals this November?