Next week, over a quarter million aspiring writers will undertake a momentous challenge: to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The event is called National Novel Writer’s Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It’s an exhilarating, wild and crazy writing event unlike any of its kind. To reach the total, participants will have to churn out 1,667 words a day.
Will all of it be finely polished prose? Absolutely not. Most of it (judging from my own efforts) will be absolute drivel. Nevertheless, it is a fantastically inspiring way to write a novel. For many of us, NaNoWriMo brings the dream of writing a novel within reach by simply forcing you to sit down and bang it out. It doesn’t come without a cost. Sleep will be minimized, showers skipped, family members tuned out more than usual. Here are ten ways to get ready.
- Sleep while you can. Many writers including my NaNoWriMo buddies are already busy people who write best by staying up late or getting up early in the morning. If I can get ahead on sleep now, I’ll thank myself later.
- Stock and resupply. Everyone has their arsenal of writing weapons — favorite pens, snacks, drinks, music, that sort of thing — the Dumbo’s feather that we think helps us write better and faster.
- Dream up your idea now. I already came up with my new novel’s premise (while showering, actually), and I’m pretty excited about it. The other night I even threw down some notes. In the coming week while driving, showering, or watching bad TV, maybe that idea will grow a bit.
- Put in some research. There’s more concrete work I can do now. Drawing maps, coming up with names for characters and places, and looking up details on, say, the art of thatch roofing are all things that I normally use as an “excuse” to procrastinate from writing.
- Get in people’s good graces. The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it tends to kidnap you from the normal world of human interactions. Family time and social media networks will undoubtedly see some neglect. Yet another reason to win some favors now.
- Plan for disaster. Every year on the forums, I read nightmare stories about hard drive crashes, accidental deletions, and other disasters. Now’s a good time to come up with a plan for regular saving and backing up of files. One word for you: Dropbox.
- Eat healthy and hydrate. I fully admit that I eat like crap during the month of November, and NaNo (along with Thanksgiving) is a major reason for that. I’ll try to be a bit healthier now and that way lessen chances of a coronary. Fruit, vegetables, and lots of good clean water.
- Read. Whenever I’m reading a good book, I tend to reflect the style and themes a bit in my own writing. As writers we constantly look to the successes of others to improve ourselves. Since there won’t be much time for it in November, I’m catching up on favorite reading now, to have it fresh in my head.
- Make some new friends. Having someone to write and compete with is critical to success. I broached the subject of NaNoWriMo with a couple of friends who I knew dabbled in writing. They’ve joined me the past couple of years, and they’re undoubtedly a big part of why I’ve been able to finish.
- Spread the word. This incredible event is run on a volunteer basis by a small group called the Office of Letters and Light. They, and this event’s future, depend on donations. The more we can spread the word about NaNoWriMo, recruit new writers, and drum up support, the better. I truly feel that NaNoWriMo has had a positive impact on literature. Let’s keep this good thing going.
That’s all I have for you. Why wait? Join me in this crazy writing adventure. Here’s my NaNoWriMo page.
And good luck!
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