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9 Tips for NaNoWriMo From Authors Who've Made It

Posted by Arthur Gutch on Tue, Oct 24, 2017 @ 02:30 PM

It's almost time for NaNoWriMo again, that yearly celebration of the art of writing quickly. Every November, hundreds of thousands of authors put aside hours each day, all in the attempt to write a 50,000 word book in the span of one month. Here is a long list of tips and advice from authors who've finished their books to win NaNo. nanowrimo_self_publishing.png

1. Embrace the First Draft

First drafts don't have to be perfect, they just have to exist. Don't worry about editing pages on your NaNo novel. In fact, forbid yourself from even fixing the most basic of typos during the month. Every time you stop, you're wasting time that could be used writing more words. Skip the editing now, that's what December is for.

2. Make a Commitment

It sound ridiculous, but lots of authors join up for NaNoWriMo without figuring out what it's going to take. How long does it usually take to for you to write 1,667 words? That's the amount you need to produce every single day if you want to win NaNo. Before you start to write your book, figure out exactly when you're going to fit that work into your daily schedule. Get up early, stay up late, skip television for a month... it doesn't matter. Just figure out how, and commit to doing it for the entire month.

3. Outlining Isn't Cheating

Writing ahead is cheating at the NaNo game, but creating a detailed outline isn't. In fact, it's one of the best ways to guarantee you'll finish by the end of the month. Plot out the main points of your story, at the very least, to prevent getting lost halfway through.

4. Front Load Your Month

It's November, and you're going to come across Thanksgiving, holiday shopping, snow days, sudden family parties, and a whole lot of other distractions. Yes, you're committed to your two hours a day (or however long it takes), but sometimes things happen. Give yourself a little bit of insurance by writing more words than you need to during the first days of the month. That extra bit of wiggle room might be enough to help you over the finish line.

5. Use the Forums

NaNoWriMo has dozens of forums for writers, from local groups who get together and spur each other on, to groups dedicated to writing prompts and fun challenges. It's a month-long grind, you might as well get some fun out of it.

6. Use Every Spare Minute

Not everyone can carve a solid two-hour block out their day. Using the piecemeal approach works just as well. Write for 15 minutes before you get the kids up for school. Dictate for eight minutes while you drive to work. Eat faster at lunch and use the resulting 12 minutes for half a chapter more. By dropping in and out of your story all day long, you can hit your word count goals every day without interrupting your daily lifestyle.

7. Hook Up With Local Writers

Check your local library or bookstore, or look on the NaNoWriMo website for local groups. All across the country, authors will be getting together for regular writing marathons and sprints. It's nice to get out and write somewhere besides your corner office, and word counts often rise in the company of other participants.

8. Ditch the Internet

Make a vow that you'll completely ignore the internet while you're writing your NaNo book. If you need research, do it afterward or ahead of time. You writing time shouldn't be interrupted by anything, and the internet is too much of a distraction. 

9. Be Fearless

If nothing else, NaNoWriMo will teach you that you should never be afraid to try. Even if you don't hit your deadline, you'll be that much further into a new novel at the end of the month.

Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!

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