Are you entering the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) contest this November?
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 FAQs.
Quick NaNoWriMo Tips
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.
- Talk to your family. Let them 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. Find an accountability partner to help keep you on track.
- Set strict writing hours. Choose a time 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.
- Set a daily word quota. 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.)
- Compost. Spend some time mentally composting your basic premise and characters before the start date so you’re ready to begin on time.
- Outline. Prepare a written outline and character sketches to work from (this is permitted in the official rules).
- Write what you know. 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.
Get the “Read Better, Write Better” Workbook FREE!
By helping you evaluate novels as you read, this 30-page workbook will improve your understanding of what makes them bestsellers—or mediocre shelf-fillers.
Print off your copy of the Read Better, Write Better workbook today. If you deconstruct a novel or two before the end of the October, you’ll increase your chances of writing a worthy NaNoWriMo manuscript—that is, one you’ll want to continue to work with even after the contest is over.
The eBook includes:
- a printable novel study template
- a list of creative reading activities
- an example workbook
- an interactive glossary with links to online resources
Find out how you can get your free copy here.
Free Online Resources for NaNoWriMo
If you want to write a novel in a month, you’ll need to prepare. Check out the following free resources to help you:
- 5 Resources to Help You Plan your NaNoWriMo Novel, Procrastinating Writers
- 9 Ways to Prepare for NaNoWriMo, Write Anything
- Five Must-Have Resources for Nanowrimo, Web Stuff 4 Writers
- NaNoWriMo Tracker Template and Some Resources, Domestic Joy
- Must-Have Tools for NaNoWriMo, Learn to Write Fiction
Helpful Articles from Write It Sideways
- The Top 12 Benefits of Outlining Your Novel: Why should you bother with outlining? Here are 12 ways it can help you write your novel.
- 5 Visual Strategies for Planning Your Novel: Use these techniques to help you visualize your plot.
- 6 Ways to Hook Your Readers from the Very First Line: Don’t stuff around with boring bits—get straight to the interesting parts!
- The #1 Reason You’ll Never Finish Writing Your Novel: Are you writing, or are you procrastinating?
- How to Steal a Plot for Your Book (and get away with it): Feeling uninspired? Why not steal someone else’s plot?
NaNoWriMo Last-Minute Checklist
- Have you officially registered?
- Are you familiar with all the rules?
- Do you have outline notes on key elements of your story?
- Have you completed any necessary research?
- Have you set up a comfortable area in which to work?
- Do you have written evidence of your writing goals for the next 30 days?
- Have you briefed others in your house about what you’re doing?
- Do you have an accountability partner?
- Have you located important resources for your journey (books, helpful websites, writing articles, support forums)?
- Are you stocked with notebooks, pencils, pens, etc. and is your computer free of glitches?
- Have you prepared a selection of things that inspire you (CD’s of favourite music, photographs, novels, etc.)
How are you using the last two weeks of October to prepare for NaNoWriMo?
Your NaNoWriMo experience will be much richer if you study a copy of Larry Brooks’ masterful Story Structure Demystified before you begin. Check out my review of Story Structure Demystified.
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