November is almost here, and November is… National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo! The challenge is to write 50,000 words in a month – the first draft of a novel – and you can read more about what NaNoWriMo is, the rules and how to take part on the website if you’ve never heard of it before.
If you struggle with motivation or just need a kick up the backside sometimes, NaNoWriMo is a good way to make yourself carve out some time each day to write. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a published novelist or have never put pen to paper before – why not give it a try?
someone who writes by the seat of their pants – and then try working the opposite way for a couple of days.
This is a great resource where different kinds of story plans are collected into one place. You can choose the one that best suits your style or have a go at several to help your story take wing. I like the Snowflake method, but the Rubik’s Cube is also good for getting started.
Pick two or more objects or words at random and write the story that links them together. Even if you hate the result, knowing what you don’t want to write about can help to clarify what you do.
If you live with other people, make sure they understand that you shouldn’t be disturbed while you’re writing. Find a way to carve writing time out of the day – write on your commute or in your breaks if you work; give up watching TV; don’t read the news every day.
Avoid the internet altogether if you must. Use a post-it note to mark an area that needs more research and move on. Make stuff up to fill the gaps; you can come back to them later.
If you’re fighting distractions, perhaps you need to embrace them and take a break for a while to do something different.
If you’ve been writing on-screen, grab a notebook, go and do something different, and jot down any ideas as they come to you. Even better, go and visit different locations – even ones that you think have nothing to do with your story. You might be surprised! If you’ve been writing by hand, start typing up the last page you’ve written and carry on from there.
A lot of people talk about their ‘inner editor’ and how to turn it off. You need to get something on the page before you can bash it into shape. Even if you realise the entire thing was crap and you need to start again from the beginning, sometimes it’s necessary to go through the pain to reach your goal. Your writing career won’t end if you don’t complete 50,000 words in November, but if you don’t write something, it won’t even get started.
Stop reading articles about prep and character development and plot-building! Start writing!
We do have a little afterword for you. If you finish 50,000 words in NaNoWriMo, congratulations. It shows discipline, determination and dedication. Don’t stop there. Lots of people finish a first draft, but how many of them finish a novel? Don’t rush to self-publish or to send your synopsis off to agents and publishers (and when you do, definitely don’t mention NaNoWriMo in the covering letter). Take time to edit and revise. You can ask people you know to give you their opinions, and we offer an impartial critiquing service as well as copy-editing and proofreading for when you get to that crucial final draft.
We look forward to helping you get your finished novel into stores around the world. It may take several more months or years before it’s complete but when the time comes, we hope you’ll remember us and come back to www.helpforwriters.me!
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