NaNoWriMo - How Do I Love Thee?

11/1/11 is the day my life changed forever. It's the day I went from writing as a hobby, to writing as a bonafide author. It's the day my debut novel, To Love Twice, was born.

11/1 is now a special day for me. It's an anniversary of sorts, a day I look forward to all year. Why, you ask? Well, 11/1 is the beginning of a writing contest that millions participate in. The event is called NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. During the month, the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Yes, you read that correctly. 50,000 in 30 days!

2013 is my third attempt at NaNoWriMo. The first year (2011) I managed approximately 25,000 words. Last year (2012) I put down slightly less at 22,000 words. This year (2013) I plan to win! I plan to get at least 50,000 words and to finish my novel. Oh yes. I have big plans this year! Here's my plan for a successful go at NaNo this year:

1. Have a PLAN

A plan is a must. To be successful at NaNo, you must plan beforehand. Spend time in October planning the novel you intend to write in November. Here's what I did:

  • I sent out the first six chapters to beta readers.
  • After I received their feedback I sat down with it all and sorted it all out. I kept what I thought was relevant to the story and discarded the rest.
  • I made notes on how to fix what needed it.
  • Then I created an outline to end all outlines. I mapped out plots, subplots, scenes and settings.

2. Get Ahead on Word Count EARLY

Now, I already have approximately 25,000 words written on my current novel. I will NOT be counting those in my NaNo word count, because including them in my count would be cheating. No, my plan is to write 50,000 NEW words.

To win NaNo you must write 1667 words each day. (50,000 / 30 = 1667) My plan is to write 2500-3000 each day. A lofty goal, to be sure, but with the holiday at the end of the month and family visiting for said holiday, I want to be sure I reach and even exceed my goal so that I can spend the holiday with my family, having fun, not stressing over my word count.

3. Just Keep Writing

Heather Thurmeier put a post on her blog about NaNoWriMo and in her post she mentioned how to avoid getting bogged down in the details. That to win, you have to WRITE. That's it, no thinking allowed. Write, Write, Write. Can't think of a word? Put a placeholder there and move on. It is great advice and advice I plan to live by for the month of November.

Have a busy day planned? Is Life getting in the way? Because let's face it, Life gets in the way and sometimes we let it. Well, DON'T let it. Be strong! Can't get your writing done during the day like you'd planned? Get up an hour early or go to bed an hour late. You need to write something, everyday, even if it's only 300 words. As far as I can tell, this has two benefits. First, the story keeps flowing. Second, you won't feel discouraged, or as discouraged, if you get something written down. And remember what I said above about getting ahead in your word count? Well, if you miss a day of writing or end up writing less than your daily goal, it won't have a detrimental effect overall.

4. No Editing

Yep, that's "write", no editing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. November is for writing. Not editing, not researching, not anything other than writing. Don't know a word? Placeholder. Not sure about what a street in downtown Albuquerque is called? Placeholder. Can't remember the eye color of some secondary character? Placeholder. Do you see a pattern here? Write, and only write. Here's the reason. If you allow your brain to go off on a tangent, then you'll never get that writing done.

Here's what usually happens to me and why I never reach my word count goals everyday. "Hm, I can't remember what that Inn's name is...better go look it up. I switch out of Scrivener, head to my web browser. Notice I have a couple of emails. Oh, I better check them. Check my emails and then notice I have some new tweets to read. I read them, go through some of my favorite hashtags, do some RTing. Oh, look! Some Facebook notifications. I better check them. Spend some time in FB. Read some articles that I found in FB. Then read more articles from links within those articles. Oh look, more tweets! Yep, back to Twitter. Back to email. Ok, I've wasted enough time on the internet. Time to get back to writing. Open up Scrivener. Crap! I was supposed to be finding the name of that Inn. *Sigh* Back to the web browser..."

Oh yes, allowing yourself a break while you're supposed to be writing...that's a bad thing.

And what about when you've gotten your word count goal accomplished for the day? Do Not go back and read what you've written. Because then you'll start editing and you'll lose the thread or flow of the story. Save all re-reading and editing and critiquing until after 11/30. Repeat after me: October is for planning; November is for writing; December is for breaking; January is for editing/rewriting.

5. Have Fun

We are writers. We love to write. That's why we do it. Remember that during those days in November. Remember that you love to write. You love to create worlds and characters and stories.

If you start stressing over word counts, you'll lose that love and that's not what this is about. This is about putting words down and starting a novel. If you can only manage 15,000 words, or 25,000 words or 35,000 words - it doesn't matter. You don't have to get 50,000 words to win. Writing anything is winning...because it's words that you didn't have before you started!

So don't stress, go make a plan, and on 11/1 open up your favorite writing tool and begin. Remember to have Fun, everything else is gravy!


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