NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it takes place every November. Anyone can do it. You can sign up on the website (you don’t have to). You can go to events in your region (you don’t have to). You can donate and buy fabulous swag (you should probably do at least one of those; they’re a fabulous non-profit).
But really all you have to do is write 1666 words a day for thirty days starting November 1 and ending November 30th, which leaves you with 50,000 words. A novel in a month.
Simple? Yes. Easy? Uh, no. But here are five easy tips you can implement now in October if you are considering tackling this generative writing goal.
1. Just write. Don’t edit. Don’t research. Don’t fact-check. Just write.
NaNoWriMo is about getting words down on paper (or in Word, Pages, Scrivener, whatever). It’s about creating the raw material. I know. It’s hard to rush past imperfect sentences that could be crafted beautifully but you can do that later. In December.
2. Give something up
Unless you already have a daily writing practice, you’ll have to find the time to write. It’s stupidly simple to say and ridiculously difficult to implement. This is NOVEMBER, after all. The verge of the holiday season, end-of-year mayhem and all that stuff.
With that in mind, before you mark off time in your calendar to write, clear it. Find something to sacrifice. Maybe you won’t clean the house in November (that’s what J.K. Rowling did when she was a single mom writing Harry Potter). Or you won’t watch Netflix. Perhaps you’ll get off Facebook for an entire month or wake up an hour earlier. If email is a big time-suck for you, consider setting up an auto-response letting people know you will be slow to respond to their email during November and then only check your email once a day.
It’s your call, but figure it out before November starts. What do you need to give up to open up your schedule?
3. Decide when you will write
Now that you have cleared your calendar a bit, mark your writing time. Early morning? After everyone else is in bed? Maybe you’ll write in the car instead of watch your kid’s soccer practice. Ideally, there’s a consistency to your writing practice but because this is a binge-write, it doesn’t matter as much as just getting it done. Carve out time whenever it works for you so you can get your butt in the chair and write.
4. Pick a daily reward system
It’s amazing how a little reward can motivate you to meet your daily quota. The NaNoWriMo website is great for this. You get virtual stickers for meeting your targets and other little perks and congratulatory accolades along the way. But if you don’t want create an account on the website or if you are creating your own word counts, you can invent your own reward system. It should be something cumulative and visual—a reward/progress bar as simple as X’s on a calendar or post-its marking your daily word count will do the trick.
5. Visualize your writing routine
You: in your writing spot (the library? Fave café? Home office that is actually the dining room table?) Is it dark out because it’s so early? (or so late.) Take a moment to check off all the distractions that you’ve eliminated: you’ve shut off your phone, turned off Wi-Fi, shut the door or whatever else you have to do to block out the outside world.
There you are. In your happy writing place, happily writing. And when you’re done, you get your reward. An X, or upload your words to your NaNo profile, whatever it is.
Can you see it? That’s you! Writing, succeeding. Getting sh*t done.
Still daunted? Want a little more hand-holding? Sign up for our popular Finishing School course, specifically designed to outline a project and get it done in one calendar month! Meets Fridays in November (and on Tuesday the week of Thanksgiving.) We’ll walk you through setting reasonable goals and attaining them, with a copy of Cary Tennis’ Finishing School (included with class tuition) to help you through the rough spots.
Sign up here!