Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Prep for National Novel Writing Month

The time is nearly upon us! National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is mere days away. Don't worry if you're not feeling ready - is anyone ever ready for this? As we count down the hours, the OA team has some tips for surviving the month of November.


  1. It's okay to fall off the wagon. Accept that this might happen to you. It happens to me every other year: I hit my word count the first three days, forget on the fourth day, and then slide into nothingness with a whopping NaNoWriMo final word count of 5,821 because it was too much of a struggle to catch up. Sometimes life gets in the way, and that's okay. As much as you can, instead of trying to catch up to where the NaNoWriMo site tells you you're supposed to be with your word count, just try to hit that 1,700-word mark for the day. You never know, you might catch up on your own when you get a sudden burst of inspiration!
  2. Find a community. It's been said time and time again: writing is a solitary thing. And with a goal seemingly as unattainable as NaNoWriMo's 50K words, it can feel that much more isolating. Many major cities have write-in events, which are increasingly taking place online. Find a buddy, find a group, find someone on the other side of the globe!
  3. Save everything everywhere. The last thing you want is to be nearly done and lose your manuscript in a sudden computer Blue Screen of Death. Have backups of your backups. Save frequently. Email drafts to yourself, email them to your mom, email them to your high school volleyball coach - just keep backing everything up. Save to a flash drive, print a physical copy, put it on the cloud, do whatever you have to do.
  4. Keep going... The hardest thing about NaNoWriMo is doing it. Whether you're a planner or a pantser or somewhere in between, everything you do before NaNoWriMo can easily seem like it wasn't enough. Just keep pushing forward, even when the writing isn't going well. If you feel like you don't have time to sit down and write, work during your commute by writing on a Google Doc on your phone. Give yourself permission to write badly. This is a first draft; it doesn't have to be perfect. 
  5. ...but you can always stop. When NaNoWriMo gets to be too much, it's okay to shelve a project. Especially as we get toward the end of November and it seems like everyone is claiming their NaNoWriMo win, it's really hard for those of us whose projects just didn't work out for one reason or another: didn't have enough time, lost the thread of the story, couldn't figure out that one plot hole. It's okay to stop. It's okay to say, hey, I thought this story/plot/idea would work, and it just isn't right now. November isn't a magical month where the writing pantheon opens its gates and pours down inspiration onto the masses (as awesome as that would be). It's a month like any other, and sometimes we need a break.

No matter what you end up doing during NaNoWriMo, when it comes to writing, pennies are money - every word counts, and every word matters. Don't worry, just write.

You can find more tips at this link, which is a handout from J's local NaNoWriMo community! If you have more ideas, please leave a comment!

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