Writers everywhere are counting down the days to November. Why? National Novel Writing Month, or Nanowrimo. It’s when writers get together and challenge each other to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve taken part in previous years, but never completed the task. The projects have gone on to be finished and published, but I have yet to write 50k in a single month, or certainly not in November. However, I did write the first draft of Seven Dirty Words (approx. 90,000 words) in about the same time, just not during Nanowrimo. Am I taking part this year? Probably not, and I have plenty of excuses lined up, but also some tips for budding authors who fancy having a go.
Tip Number One: Start A New Project
Start a new project. Just sit and free-write the first words that come into your head, and keep going. Nanowrimo isn’t about polishing and editing, it’s about getting started and having a rough draft. If you’ve already got one project on the go, leave to one side for November and start a new one. Not only will you have something to continue with once WIP1 is finished, but you might also find some fresh inspiration and drive, stopping that original piece from becoming stale.
Excuse number one: I have twelve WIPs at the moment, I don’t need another one being added to the pile, especially as WIP1 is currently at 42,000 words. And after having taken some of my own advice and having left it alone for a few weeks, I now have the inspiration and a direction of where it is heading.
Tip Number Two: Get Your Sleep
You might be one of these writers who gets hit over the head by your muse at 3am, I know I am, but it’s important to get some decent shut eye. However much sleep you require is down to your body. Personally, I can’t function of less than eight hours, and even then I am fuelled by caffeine to get through the day. But if you don’t get sleep, you could end up burning yourself out, and that’s not a good place to be.
Excuse number two: I am already burned out. It’s been half-term here in the UK, and I’ve had two munchkins spreading their germs at home. I’m not even convinced that girl-child will be going back to school next week since she’s still coughing her guts up. I have a feeling that I’ll be spending the first few days of Nanowrimo playing nurse to sick children, which inevitably means that I will get it next!
Tip Number Three: Plot Now!
Most writers taking part in Nanowrimo have spent all of October plotting and planning. It’s a good idea, even if you’re a panster not a planner, because at least you have a starting point. I’m a panster, well and truly, but even when I’ve taken part in Nanowrimo, I’ve spent a good couple of days beforehand, considering my new project. What genre is it? Who are the characters? (Dig out a baby’s name book and jot down your favourites. You can always change them later.) Grab a notepad and jot down those scribbles. Sentence that come into your head, descriptive phrases you come across, anything really!
Excuse number three: Like I said, I am a panster. I did start plotting a fantasy series, which filled up several notebooks and hasn’t got any further yet. (That’s WIP11 in case you’re interested.) I have an idea where WIP1 is going, but when it comes to writing erotic romance, I struggle to plan. I need to just write and go with the flow, but then when I’ve got a deadline looming (i.e. the end of November), I get struck down by writer’s block – I panic, and then I have no notes to look at. I know, it’s a lame excuse, but it’s mine and I’m sticking with it.
Tip Number Four: Make Friends
Nanowrimo is a great way to make new friends. You can normally find someone in your area through their official website or Facebook groups. You might even be able to encourage your local writer’s group to take part, or find that they already are. Although writers tend to become hermits when actually taking part in the event, every now and then we pop our heads up to brag about how well we’re doing, and it’s always good to chat with like-minded people, and people who understand what we’re going through, and why it’s so important to us.
Excuse Number Four: I’m not great at being social, and I’m really bad at using forums. I’m a member of loads on Goodreads, but can’t keep track of them all. And I get fed up of posts getting lost because of people who use them like Facebook groups, and solely to advertise.
Tip Number Five: Don’t Stop
Okay, this is one I don’t have an excuse for. Once Nanowrimo is over, it is easy to shove that project aside and forget about it, especially if you did start a new WIP simply for Nanowrimo. But it’s important never to forget about it, and definitely DO NOT delete it! All of my Nanowrimo projects, although not completed in the time-frame of thirty days, have gone on to become full on novels. Put it aside if you must, but don’t abandon it. One day, it might become a best-selling novel.