If you have decided to take the plunge into the abyss that is NaNoWriMo then give yourself a giant pat on the back. Taking part in NaNoWriMo (or NaNo as it is most often called) is a huge commitment, but with a few tips you too will be all ready to get to writing on November 1.
What is NaNoWriMo?
Let’s get this bit of info out-of-the-way. According to the NaNoWriMo website, “On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.” Super simple, right? Write a 50,000-word novel in a month. Piece of cake! Well, it might sound simple, but for those of us who have attempted NaNo in the past, it really isn’t that simple. But with a little planning and commitment, you can be victorious!
My NaNoWriMo Track Record
This will be my eighth year doing NaNo. I’ve won four times but have never finished any of my novels. So while I hit the 50,000 mark on all four novels, which is technically winning, I still don’t classify myself as a winner. But this year is different. This year I am in it to win it.
I started my 2019 novel back in the summer of 2015, but it was such a mess that I put it away for year. It is part of a four book series, so it has been tough. I basically have to know what is happening in all four books before I begin writing this one. I have been back and forth with it for years, but this summer the floodgates finally opened. I’ll be posting more about my 2019 NaNo novel later this month.
These last few months have been spent rewriting everything, including characters, (writing new ones, deleting old ones, and even killing off a few); settings; doing lots and lots of research; and coming up with playlists for each main character. I’ll be posting my playlists later this month too.
I don’t think I have ever been this prepared for NaNo, ever. So I am very confident that this year will be my year to be 100% successful and finally finish one of my novels.
Even though I will be happy hitting the 50,000 mark by November 30, I really want to finish my book. So my personal goal is to write the entire book, which should be around 80,000 words. That is a huge task, but I am up for the challenge!
10 Tips for NaNoWriMo Success
I’ve learned quite a bit about myself, my writing, and NaNoWriMo in general over these past eight years. I thought I’d share with you my Top 10 tips for NaNoWriMo success:
- SIGN UP! – I know that sounds so simple, but signing up makes it 100% official. Plus, it opens a whole new world of information, writing tips, and forums where you can ask questions, find write-ins, and meet other writers. Once you are signed up at nanowrimo.org you can enter your author bio, upload a picture, and most importantly, add your 2019 NaNo novel info. My username is elissakwrites. Let’s be buddies!
- FIND AND FOLLOW YOUR HOME REGION – The NaNo website classifies your home region as “your Hogwarts house.” That is so true! You can find your home region under the drop down menu COMMUNITY on the NaNo website. The site will search for the NaNo group closest to you. Hopefully, you have one that is close to you. If not, you can search the forums for other groups to join. Having a home region is a really great tip for success. Your region will most likely be hosting write-ins, word sprints, and other NaNo functions, which will really help you with meeting your daily goals.
- GET AS MUCH PREP WORK DONE AS POSSIBLE – This really only works for those of us who are planners. You pantsers can skip this step! I wish I could be a pantser, but I am just not wired that way. Try to fill out your character profiles and setting worksheets, compile an outline, and complete as much research as you can, because once NaNo starts you won’t have time to do any of that!
- ATTEND WRITE-INS!!! – I can’t stress this one enough. Whether you are attending a group write-in, a virtual write-in, or your very own write-in, write-ins are the only thing that has helped me reach my 50,000-word goal. This year I won’t be attending too many group write-ins, so I’ll be relying on virtual and my personal write-ins. Many are offered not only in your home region, but virtual write-ins are offered throughout the groups on the forum and also on Twitter. One thing I will say is to make sure you feel comfortable attending a physical write-in. I’ve only been to write-ins at public places and have never had any problem feeling unsafe. It is a shame to have to say this, but you always want to feel secure and safe!
- WORD SPRINTS – Word sprints and write-ins go hand in hand. Word sprints are timed writing sessions. They are usually 15-30 minutes in length where you write as many words as you can. Sometimes a writing prompt is offered, which is so fun. A few years ago when I first started writing my mystery novel, my writing prompt was a Christmas gnome that I had to fit somewhere in my story. Since my novel takes place in the winter, I didn’t have a hard adding it to my story. I smile when I look back at the scene knowing that came from a word sprint.
- DOWNLOAD SCRIVENER – This might not be for everyone, but Scrivener has made my writing life so much easier. I’ll have to write a post just on Scrivener, because I can spend all day talking about how much I love this writing program. The great people at Literature and Latte, who make Scrivener, offer a FREE version throughout the month of November for all NaNo writers. So you can give it a try for free, and if you end up loving it, like I do, and you win NaNo, you get a 50% off discount! Even without the discount it is very affordable.
- SET UP YOUR WORD TRACKER – Everyone tracks their words differently. It really depends on the program you are using. I use Scrivener and set up daily “chapters” to keep track of my daily word counts. To hit the 50,000 goal, the daily word count is 1,667. The NaNo website used to have a word count helper, but they revamped their site last month, and I can’t find it. If you search around on the new site and find it, please let me know! You can also download a NaNo calendar for your desktop. The NaNo website artisan forum has some, or Google 2019 NaNo desktop calendars and find one that speaks to you.
- SET UP A NOVEL PLAYLIST OR CHARACTERS PLAYLISTS – This is a fun step that really helps me. Music speaks to me like no other medium, so I am constantly listening to music. I find it really helpful and fun to set up a playlist not only for my novel but for each individual main character. Two of my five characters’ playlists are done. This year, I also set up some scene playlists. I am really excited to use those. I use Spotify for my playlists, but you can use anything. Even go old school and make a novel mixtape!
- GET YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING SPACE READY – This not only includes cleaning and organizing your space, but also looking at meal prep for the month; stocking up on write-in snacks; and pulling together what needs to be in your writing bag. I’ll be posting what is in my NaNo writing bag this month in case you need some inspiration.
- PLAN YOUR MONTH – Grab a calendar or planner and start mapping out your entire month with write-ins, personal writing sessions, or any way you will be planning to reach your daily and weekly goals. I will be using both a physical planner (my awesome Happy Planner) and a digital planner on my laptop as a back up. I am a little kooky that way. I’ll be posting a peek into my planner this month, as well. Whatever works for you is perfect!
- BONUS! GIVE YOURSELF A PEP TALK – If you have never done NaNo before it can be very overwhelming. I mean, you are writing an entire 50,000 word novel in one month. But with a bit of planning, you can conquer the beast that is NaNoWriMo and have a complete first draft of your novel by the end of November.