Each year in November, hundreds of thousands of people around the world pick up their pens to take up the incredible challenge for National Novel Writing Month.
If you’ve always thought it might be nice to write a book, this is the perfect opportunity to give it a go.
The challenge is simple: write a novel in a month.
Writers of all backgrounds and abilities often find starting is the hardest part; the weight of our own expectations blocks creativity and can leave us feeling frustrated when the words on the page aren’t as inspired as we would have hoped.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) aims to do away with all that. This time around it’s about quantity, not quality. The programme challenges writers to join the community and complete an entire novel – a minimum of 50,000 words – in 30 days.
To achieve the goal, you’ll need to write nearly 2,000 words a day. This demanding deadline means there’s no time to go back and make it perfect – it’s all about staying motivated and getting it done. At the end of the month, you’ll have a finished draft in your hands that you can edit, chop, change and polish until it sparkles.
If you think it sounds like fun – here’s some tips to help get you started.
National Novel Writing Month is free, and to get involved all you need to do is sign up on the website.
They’ll ask you to create a profile and select your region – this helps you to connect with other writers in your area who are also taking part in the programme.
There are also hundreds of ‘Write Ins’ scheduled over the course of the month; check for the ones closest to you by clicking on your ‘Home Region’ in the navigation bar from the website. You’ll find listings for local events near you; this is a great way to meet others with similar interests, get social and stay motivated.
From your profile you can also upload your ongoing word count and earn badges for progress as you go. At the end of the month, you’ll be asked to paste the full text of your novel into the website- once they verify you’ve completed 50,000 words, you’ll receive a certificate of completion and join the ranks of thousands of writers around the world who took part in this exciting challenge.
Planning for success
This week is the perfect time to plan for success so you can hit the ground running when National Novel Writing Month begins. Here are a few things you can do to plan for success:
Make time – This one might seem obvious, but making time to write is the single most important thing you can do to help ensure you enjoy National Novel Writing Month and are successful. Sometimes taking time out of our busy lives is easier said than done; look at your schedule now and see where you might be able to carve out a little time for yourself. Getting up a little earlier, writing over lunch hour or repurposing evening TV time are just three strategies published authors have used to create some space to write.
Do some plotting – Rarely do we have an idea that comes fully formed. What’s more likely is to have an idea of a situation or character that you’d like to explore further and turn into a novel-length story. Before you start, take some time to consider the plot of your story – some people enjoy planning down to the last detail, while others prefer to wing it once they have a general idea of where things are going. There’s no right or wrong way to go, but spending some time planning the basic plot of your story beforehand will help ensure you don’t hit a wall half way through writing and will help alert you to any potential challenges before you sit down to write.
Meet your characters – The best stories are ones with well-rounded, dimensional characters. Your goal should be to make your characters as realistic as possible; they should be so vivid you could imagine bumping into them in the street. The best way to get to know them is by working on their backstory. Start by writing down their physical characteristics: eye colour, height, weight, etc. Then create a history for them – where were they born, how many people are in their family? What have been the defining moments in their lives so far? What are their likes and dislikes? Where do they live and work? What is their home like? Even if you don’t use these details in your story directly, by taking the time to answer these questions about their personality you’ll be able to better write about who they are and how they behave.
For more tips and inspiration, visit the Get Inspired section on the NaNoWriMo website.
What do you think of National Novel Writing Month? Are you inspired to take up the challenge?