Surviving NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again when it seems like everyone is getting ready to plan for their NaNoWriMo novel.

Whether this is your first or 18th time, I hope this guide here helps you. This is my take on how to successfully complete NaNoWriMo, as someone who has been doing it for a decade and has four wins – five if you count Camp NaNo – under their belt.

There are two main thoughts going into NaNo – planning it ahead of time or doing it by the seat of your pants (“pantsing”). I recommend doing at least a little bit of planning – the end goal of 50,000 words may not technically be a novel by most lengths, it’s still a magnitude longer than a short story. I’d strongly suggest having at least your main plot line figured out and characters named, a combination of the two main types fondly known as “plantsing”.

The length – 50,000 words – can definitely be daunting. You’ll need to pace yourself. The traditional method is 1,667 words per day. This also works out to be 5,000 every 3 days or 11,669 a week – which could also be 1,000 a week day and 3,335 on the weekend.

If you do fall behind – it’s okay. Try to at least not fall further behind. Make it up where you can, but remember it’s okay to lose to. You’re doing this to have fun – if you don’t succeed that’s okay too. You may find that even writing only 5 words is an accomplishment for you and that’s okay. Set your own goals – even if it’s not the traditional 1,667 words per day for 30 days to hit 50,000 words.

The hardest thing for me to remember is that all a first draft has to do is exist. It doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect, it just needs to exist. November isn’t time for editing – it’s for production. Quantity takes precedent over quality here.

Beyond that – do try not to do it alone. Find friends and family who will support you, cheer you on, celebrate your wins, no matter how small. If you don’t have anyone in your personal life, I recommend joining your regional NaNo group on the website (though this can contain useful resources regardless and I always recommend you join your regional group).

I also recommend you at least read the forums, even if you don’t participate in the discussion.

NaNoWriMo is an exciting event and I think it’s worth giving it a shot, whether or not you think you’ll succeed. Just trying is enough!

Originally posted to Tumblr.

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