It’s officially Wednesday, November 2nd, otherwise known as the second day of NaNoWriMo!! For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s National Writing Month. NaNoWriMo, affectionately known as NaNo, is a really amazing community of writers who all have the same goal: 50,000 words in thirty days. NaNoWriMo.org/ gives you an amazing community of writers to encourage you towards your goal of 50,000 words, as well as tips to aid you on your way! Throughout November, I’ll be instituting “Wordy Wednesdays”, giving you as many tips as I can to help you on your way, if you’re participating!
1. Survival Kit
If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, there are several things you will absolutely NEED in order to survive.
- Laptop –Scrivener and Word documents are a necessity for writing. Scrivener is a writing app (for computer) that many NaNo’s swear by. It offers a 30-day free trial, which is perfect, because NaNo is only 30 days!
- Notebook — If a laptop isn’t handy, a notebook is absolutely necessary to have on hand at all times! If an idea strikes you, or you have a moment to write, then you have a notebook to write all your ideas down on. Notebooks are actually primarily what I use to write. I try to write as much as I can on my computer, but I spend so much time away from home, that a notebook is my go-to place to write. When I have done NaNo in the past, it’s been super casual, just trying to write more kind of thing. I didn’t really upload to the NaNo website, so a notebook worked for me. If you’re planning to run the show a little differently this year, you might want to use your phone rather than a notebook. Speaking of which….
- Phone — Several apps are enormously helpful when it comes time to write, write, write! Evernote has a month long free-trial that would be enormously helpful to have on hand!
- USB / Flash drive — Backup, backup, backup!! You certainly don’t want to lose any of your work! I suggest that you backup your work every night after a day of writing.
- Drinks, food and snacks — When you spend hours and hours writing, you’re sure to get hungry! Keep snacks and water on hand to keep yourself in top shape!
- Comfy clothes — With all that time spent on your computer, you certainly want to be comfy! Think pajamas and fuzzy socks.
There are several applications that will aid your writing quest!
- Write or Die — This website (and iOS app) is a huge incentive to write! You set an amount of words to be accomplished in a set amount of time, and if you stop writing for too long, it starts deleting words! There are levels of “play” to make the time shorter, and increase the words deleted.
- Written? Kitten! — This website (I don’t know if it’s an app, whoops!) is actually super fun! You set a certain word goal (100 words, 500 words) and when you reach that goal, you get a cute picture of a kitten, puppy or bunny! Personally, this is my favorite. Who doesn’t like cute puppies??
- Twitter Sprints — These are the easiest to use! If you follow @NaNoWordSprints, they tweet throughout the day with Twitter Sprints. They say “Write for the next 15 minutes!” (or however long), or they give you a writing prompt.
I am by no means an expert in writing …. but I’ll point you in the direction of several articles I found enormously helpful!
- The Snowflake Method — This is to understand the Snowflake Method, and this one is from the creator himself!
- Character Surveys — These are what I utilize the most when it comes to preparing and getting to know my characters. They really give you the opportunity to delve in-depth on who your character is and discover things about them you would have never known otherwise (More on this next week!)
- World Building — Surprisingly, there are only a few templates for world building, and are generally categorized by genre: Fantasy World Building, Sci-Fi world building, cultural world-building questions, world-building.
- NaNoWriMo Forums — I believe you have to have an account and be signed in to see the Forums, but if you have an account, here it is
Everyone needs some motivation every now and then! 50,000 words is a lot, and I’d be surprised if you didn’t get stalled a few times along the way. Between writers block, the time constraints and losing confidence, motivation is very important through this process to be successful!
- Writing routine — A routine is a great way to make sure you get your writing in! Whether you write every day after work, before bed, after dinner… whatever routine you could cook up, it’s an excellent way to keep yourself on track!
- Rewards and Goals — Everyone needs some incentive every once in awhile! Give yourself a goal every week, and a prize if you obtain that goal. Maybe if you reach the 11,666 words required every week, you take yourself out to a nice dinner, buy a book, take an hour to relax and watch a movie you’ve been meaning to see.
- Join the community — Perhaps the best way to stay motivated, is to be motivated. Competition brings out the best in everyone! Join the community, find people participating who live around you, join with a buddy, find others online…there are so many ways to stay motivated with others on the internet!
5. Really Writing Tips
The great thing about NaNo, is that you’re not writing a book to be published the first of December. This is just a rough, rough, rough draft. It doesn’t even have to be coherent! As long as you get your ideas down on the page, it doesn’t need to be grammatically correct or make sense!
- Write whatever you seem fit — This isn’t a novel anyone but you is going to read. Write the scenes is whatever order you want! Many author’s I’ve talked to started their novels—many of which are bestsellers—right in the middle, or at the very end! One told me he wrote his last scene first, and his first scene last! That’s whacky, but if it works, then have at it!
- Describe, describe, describe! — Adjectives are a huge part of writing, but it also adds to the word count! Make sure to describe as much as you can! It enhances your writing, and adds to the word count!
- Turn off the internal editor — Nobody will care if you used the wrong from of “your” in the first draft of your paper, or you forgot comma’s, or you spelled ‘neither’ wrong every time.
- Do not delete anything — Everything is important in a novel. Something you may not like now, may be something you could use in the future. Editing isn’t supposed to happen here! Deleting is a form of editing, and there’s none of that here!
- Collect ideas — The forums I mentioned above? Super helpful! There are forums that exist to give you writing inspiration, and give you ideas to use in your story. Use them! Take all the inspiration you can find, and put it in your novel.
- Participate in NaNo dares — NaNo Dares are super cool. There are many dare threads on NaNo, but here’s the Sci-Fi one. These are a great way to make writing fun and enjoyable, while enhancing your community, too! I always write my dares on Notecards and put them in my NaNo notebook for later, to see if I can work one in.
To make your NaNo Writing easier, I’ve created a few resources to make things easier, and will add more with every Wordy Wednesday post each week.
- November Calendar Word Count Tracker — It’s hard to keep track of just how many words you’ve done each day or week, so I’ve created this tracker so you can gauge your progress! The November Calendar Word Count Tracker is something that I use each year (though I just call it the NaNo Tracker), and encourage you to download and print to keep yourself on track. Create and track goals! Watch your progress, and encourage yourself to keep writing! Download the NaNo Tracker here.
- Character Analysis Packet — This packet is a 9-page mess of random, in-depth questions that are key to getting to know your character on a molecular level. This packet is essential to starting your novel, and I can’t implore you enough to download and use it! Next week, Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, we’ll be going in-depth on character development… and you don’t want to miss it! However, in the mean time, you have 7 days of writing to get done! Start here, and get to know your characters!
- Basic Story Outlining — I know that right now, you’re probably just writing and writing and writing, and may not even have a concrete plot idea yet. But for those of you who like to plan, I offer you a basic, basic, basic worksheet for outlining your story. I stress the “basic”, because it’s just the elementary-level questions to your novel. It’s a vague outline of the direction you WANT to go. It’s a reference guide for YOU to use. Download it here.
7. Define success
It’s time to take a serious look at your writing. How often do you write? Is 50,000 a realistic goal for you this year? Before you start NaNoWriMo (officially), I want you to set a realistic goal for yourself. Maybe it’s 1,000 words. 25,000. 500. Write it on a colorful piece of paper, and put it on your wall, somewhere you’ll look at it, often. Will you count yourself successful if you only get 30,000 words? 2,000? Before you start writing a story, you have to decide at least your genre. Same thing with NaNo! Before you start writing, define what success means to you. It won’t go away! You have years to work yourself up to 50,000 words.
NaNoWriMo isn’t really anything to get stressed about. Every year I’ve done NaNo in the past, I’ve done it super casual. My goal has never been 50,000 words. That would be really nice, but I’m no where’s NEAR there as a writer, yet. My November goal is write more than I’ve ever written, and if that’s only 10,000 words, I’ll be very happy for myself. NaNo is whatever you want it to be; a hard-core writer exercise, a fun competition or a relaxed goal, NaNoWriMo is great because of it’s flexibility…and it’s rewards.