Halloween is almost here, and while some get excited for costumes, trick-or-treating, and scary movie nights, most writers out there will tell you that the best part of Halloween is when the clock strikes midnight…and NaNoWriMo officially begins!
Every November thousands of writers come together with one common goal—to write a 50,000-word novel (or start of a novel) in one single month. It’s crazy. It’s audacious. There is more coffee consumed in one month than the rest of the year combined. But it’s also a time to start making your novel-writing dreams come true, no perfectionistic pressure allowed!
Jon Acuff recently released a new book called Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done. It’s all about how we can stop being people who start a million projects, or start working on our ultimate goals (say, writing a novel), but give up when perfectionism gets in the way. This is what those who started NaNoWriMo knew. Writers can get too caught up in making a first draft perfect, or being afraid that it’s not perfect, that they give up before they reach the end. NaNoWriMo tells us that we aren’t aiming for a perfect 50,000 words, our only job is to finish writing them.
If this all sounds great to you, and you want to write 50,000 words by December, here are my tips to help you prepare!
Make an outline. When you have to write close to 2,000 words every day, you don’t have the time to spend figuring out what should happen next in your novel. The more detailed a plan you have before you start, the better chances you have to not get stuck in the middle of writing.
Tell your friends. Taking on NaNoWriMo is no small undertaking. The more people you tell, the less you have to explain why you’re choosing to stay at home writing instead of going out to dinner/drinks/movies with them. Plus having that extra accountability will keep you pushing toward your end goal.
Make a schedule. Most of us don’t just have extra time in our schedules to spend an hour (or a few hours) a day writing—you’re going to have to make that time. Plan writing into your schedule so that you never have to wonder if or when you’ll have time in a given day to write. Keep things like Thanksgiving, weekend trips you have planned, and any other commitments you can’t push around in mind. There will be a day you absolutely can’t squeeze writing time into, but that doesn’t mean you will fail. Look for less busy days to double up your word counts and keep on track.
Make it fun. If you love the story you’re writing, you are more likely to want to get back into it every day. Don’t write something you think would sell, you think your parents or friends would enjoy, or something you feel obligated to write about. Write for you. Write for fun. Make a cozy and enjoyable routine around writing, whether that means going to your favorite coffee shop for a holiday drink or lighting a candle and writing by your fireplace. When writing becomes your happy place, you’ll want to keep on going even after November is finished.
Are you signed up for NaNoWriMo 2017? Let me know in the comments below!