NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month–is coming soon. From November 1st-30th, writers far and wide will be writing their hearts out in the attempt to produce a novel in 30 days. So, what’s involved, and how can you have some hope of achieving this lofty goal?
How It Works
You must produce a 50,000 word piece of fiction, from scratch, by midnight on November 30th. NaNoWriMo works on the honour system.
Pros: No entry fees; forces you to write a lot over a short period of time; you have nothing to lose by entering.
Cons: No prizes, so less motivation; you’ll probably produce writing of questionable quality under such constraints; it’s easy to quit because there are no consequences.
Do the pros outweigh the cons? That’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself. You can check out the full details here or browse their FAQs.
Does NaNoWriMo Increase My Chances of Getting Published?
It’s the question everyone wants to know: will I be writing something publishable during this contest?
Currently, there’s a list of 35 authors on the NaNoWriMo site who’ve been published after participating. Keep in mind, said novels were probably reworked and highly polished after the contest.
Apparently Harlequin encourages NaNoWriMo participants to submit their romance manuscripts after the competition. So, if this is your genre, you might have a crack at publishing your novel.
How To Write A Novel In 30 Days
If you decide to enter NaNoWriMo, how do you plan to get that book written in such a short time? Here are some tips to keep you on track as you race to the finish line:
- Know why you’re entering. If you’ve got a story itching to get out, do it. If you’re only acting on a whim, you’re likely to fail.
- Let your family members know you’re participating in the competition. You’re going to need their understanding if you’ll be pulling out your hair for a month.
- Connect with other writers who are participating, and be accountable to one another.
- Set strict writing hours for when you’re sure you won’t have other responsibilities. If you have a day-job, you’ll want to plan to write first thing in the morning or late at night.
- Give yourself a daily quota of words to write. Don’t be tempted to slack one day and try to make up for it the next unless you have a really good excuse.
- Find a good spot to write: an office, a desk by a window, the kitchen table. Wherever you’re comfortable. Make it your space with all the materials you’ll need to write your novel (computer, pens, pencils, lined paper, blank paper, reference books, research, etc.)
- Have a written outline and character sketches to work from (this is permitted in the official rules).
- If you don’t tend to outline, spend some time mentally composting your basic premise and characters before the start date so you’re ready to begin on time.
- Unless you’ve done pre-research for your idea already, choose a storyline that won’t require a lot of extra research during the writing stage (i.e. write what you know).
- If you go off schedule, don’t give up. 25,000 words in 30 days is better than none. You’re only cheating yourself of the experience by quitting.
Will you take part in NaNoWriMo this November? Please share your tips and any previous experiences with us.
Join the discussion
Great tips. I'm going to try nanowrimo this year, and getting excited about it.
I like nanowrimo's tip on having you tell everybody that you are doing it. The idea is that when you want to quit halfway through, you realize how many people you told and will let down if you do not finish it. Kind of a funny motivational technique.
Good luck with NaNoWriMo this year! I think it's definitely important to be accountable to someone, whether that be a family member, a friend, or another contestant. Thanks for your comment 🙂
I think you wrote this post for me! I have been whining about wanting to write a book for way too long. I’ve spent the bulk of this year educating myself about the principles and following awesome teachers like yourself and Larry over at StoryFix.com.
I think this is just the ticket! Thanks for telling me about this challenge!! There’s nothing like a deadline to get your arse in gear. I love it!
@Kristoffer: see you at NaNoWriMo! Let the games begin! 🙂
.-= Read Lori´s last article ..Loving Lisis Blackston Day =-.
The more I hear people say they're taking part, the more it makes me want to do it too. Only problem is I'm expecting a baby at the end of November, so that could throw an interesting spin on my work hours!
I might actually just use the contest hype to help me get as much done on my current project as possible. That would probably be more beneficial to me in the long run.
Glad you're finding some of the inspiration you need here. And yes, Larry's site is a definite must-read before, during and after NaNoWriMo!
Best of luck, and keep me posted on how you're doing during the contest. Thanks 🙂
Uh oh, now you’ve done it…I told all my readers about it, too!
Look what you started, Suzannah, a novel revolution! 😛
And, hey, that’s great! You’re expecting! A great idea, too, to use this time to make progress on your current project. I can’t wait to hear more about that.
I’ll certainly keep you posted and let you know how things progress. I thank you for the tips at this post, too. 😉 Cheers!
.-= Read Lori´s last article ..NaNoWriMo—A Writing Experiment =-.
Great idea to let your readers know you're taking part! Now you can't give up or you'll disappoint them! Thanks for mentioning my site on your own, too. I appreciate it!
I've put it out there on my blog, too, and told friends – there is no turning back now. The idea of just writing with no time to second guess yourself is very attractive. I don't know if I would have attempted a novel otherwise. I just finished plotting my story – it's pretty bad, but I don't care. If I can push out the bad story, it may open the floodgates for the better story in the future.
Just found your blog – find it informative and interesting!
I'm glad you've decided to go ahead with Nanowrimo. I think sometimes it's better going into it knowing your plot isn't the greatest, because then there really isn't pressure to produce something wonderful. It's simply a month where you'll write more than you ever did before, and along the way you'll probably discover a lot of things about your writing (both good and bad things!).
You'll do great. Good luck!