By Meredith Maslich and Terri J. Huck
National Novel Writing Month is upon us! For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo — as it’s commonly abbreviated — runs for the month of November, and it’s a pretty popular event.
Many writers like the challenge of drafting an entire novel in a month, some like feeling part of a community, and others use NaNoWriMo as motivation/excuse to prioritize writing when they aren’t able to do it the rest of the year.
Whatever your reason, if you’re going to devote a month of your life to writing, you should try to make that time as useful and productive as possible. Which means having a plan before you start. Below are our tips for mastering NaNoWriMo.
- Make a plan — BEFORE Nov. 1:
- Start by clearly defining your goal. Example: At the end of the month, I will have a complete first draft of my novel. Or, At the end of the month, I will have written 50,000 words.
- Outline your novel. Or at least map out major plot points you can write toward.
- Figure out how many hours per day or week you’ll need to write to achieve your goal. Next figure out WHEN and HOW you’ll fit those hours in, and then put it all on your calendar! That’s a key step that many people skip, but if it’s not scheduled, it’s not a real commitment.
- Be committed — starting Nov. 1:
- Make meeting your daily or weekly writing goals your top priority.
- Move, cancel, or adjust whatever you need to in order to honor your commitment to writing.
- Minimize distractions — during your scheduled writing times:
- Stay off Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email, or whatever your online distraction of choice is.
- Turn off your phone or set it to silent.
- Send the kids to the neighbor’s to play.
- Go to a coffee shop and put on headphones. Do whatever works for you, but make a conscious and concerted effort to support yourself by staying focused.
- Maintain momentum:
- At the end of each session, make notes about where you left off so you can pick back up again.
- DON’T EDIT. Don’t go back and reread and obsess about what you already wrote. Just keep writing. That’s the whole point of NaNoWriMo — WRITING. Not revising. Not debating word choice or sentence structure. Just words on the page and forward motion. Revising is what December is for 🙂
Meredith Maslich is president and CEO and Terri J. Huck is editor and managing partner at Possibilities Publishing Company.