It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about Halloween. I mean that time when aspiring, prolific writers from all over prepare to put pen to the paper for NaNoWriMo during the month of November. It’s pretty simple: write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days in hopes of winning a prize. I’m going to be honest. I don’t know what that prize is, so rather than lie to you all and hope I don’t get caught in the you-know-what, I’ll just admit I don’t what the prize is and leave it at that.
What I do know is that NaNoWriMo is a great way for writers to break out into the writing world and hopefully have a chance at bragging that ‘They did it!’ Am I doing NaNoWriMo? Well, in addition to my job as a teacher and director, and my personal life, I’m stuyding for a graduate school entrance exam. Not to mention the fact that I’m trying to finish my debut novel by the end of the year. So in short, no I won’t. I know right away I’ll never be able to start and finish a 50K novel in one month. I’m just being realistic. And you need to be realistic if you want to succeed in NaNoWriMo. After all, participating in it is like trying to fulfill your New Year’s resolution of getting in shape; you try it for ten days and end up falling off the mountain.
I’ve met a lot of writers in the past that said they wanted to try NaNo and then give up within two weeks. Even though I’m not participating this year, I’d like to share with you some tips to help you succeed in this year’s NaNoWriMo.
- Know thy characters inside and out. These are the driving forces in any story and if they are not real to you, they won’t be to the readers. Even though you only have thirty days, you still need to know your characters.
- Know your goals for NaNoWriMo. Why are you participating? Are you participating for the right reasons? Goals will help you stay focused and motivated during the month of intensive creative writing. Remind yourself of your goals whenever you start to doubt your story.
- Word count. As I said, it’s 50K in thirty days, so plan accordingly. Plan to write at least 3,000 words a day, and you’ll need to use every free moment you have in a day. Try writing for an hour before you go to work; during your lunch hour; and finally one hour before you go to bed. You’ll need to plan the evening writing right if you have children. Above all, YOU SHOULD WRITE EVERYDAY! 300 words is better than 0 words.
- Know what is going to happen chapter by chapter. Since you have less time to write, you should know what exactly is going to happen in every chapter before you hit the keyboard.
- Don’t worry about the ending. To my knowledge, the ending isn’t so important for NaNoWriMo. As long as the story hits the 50K mark, you’re OK. If you can’t write the ending, try to end your story at a point that will make the reader want to know more. I suggest making it just past the climax, when the story is at its highest point.
So best of luck to all of you in this year’s NaNoWriMo. Maybe next year I’ll participate. But I do stress the ‘Maybe’. I have no ideal where I’ll be at in a year from now.