If you’ve had trouble succeeding at Nanowrimo in the past, or if this is your first attempt, then it may be time to tear some stitches in your writing process.
If you’re a writer (new or seasoned) and don’t know what Nanowrimo is, it’s “National Novel Writing Month” every April, July, and November. The website helps you create a project, interact with other writers in the event, and achieve a customizable goal, which traditionally is 50,000 words. It also hosts daily live-streams or advice from published authors to keep you inspired (Marissa Meyer and Neil Gaiman being two of my favorites in previous years.)
As a five-time Wrimo and three-time winner (the last three rounds being my novel-in-editing Lost and Found), here are the best tips I can give you:
Write out of order. Can’t find where to start the narrative? Don’t let it stop you from writing elsewhere. If you’ve taken a shine to a tidbit of dialogue but don’t have anywhere to put it , just put it on the paper. If you’re not sure of a setting, you don’t need to be. Write what you’re imagining, bare-bones. Integrate details later, when you know your story better, or when your word count could use some buffing.
Don’t worry about the timeline. Do yourself a favor I didn’t do myself the first time: put “x”s in place of numbers for years or ages, unless they’re specifically significant. Do not assign dates arbitrarily, or assume you’ll be working on your initial calculations. I beseech you, do not.
Ration your inspiration. Nano isn’t just about 50,000+ words, or x hours by the end of the month. It’s about scheduling, consistency, and finding the margins of an ordinary day where creativity fits. If you’ve met your daily count, but a couple extra scenes are floating around your head, note them down for later. Getting started the next day is much easier if there’s an “icebreaker” to get you writing.
Don’t mistake Nano for your final draft. Sculpt your novel. The first draft is just hacking out the size and shape of material you need. Your drafting later is what chisels the real novel out. Refining details can come last. And finally:
Do it. Do whatever, but do it. Have a great time. I didn’t crest 10,000 my first two years, but I did do something. So don’t be perfect, be a writer. Create.