All over the world as November approaches, thousands of writers and would-be writers get restive as they gear themselves to tackle the annual National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). NaNo ( as the event is popularly called) is itself a misnomer because it is no longer restricted to the US. When Chris Baty kicked it off in San Francisco way back in 1999, there were all of 21 participants. Last year there were over 200,000 participants from all over the world.
To successfully complete NaNo, you would have to write 50,000 words of a novel in the calendar month of November. Here are my top tips on how you can do it yourselves:
1. Take the plunge: Dive in, whole-heartedly. Be an active member of the many forums, learn from others and share what you have gained. This helps you improve your story and your writing skills, besides making new friends. Believe me, a half-hearted attempt won’t work. If you have set your mind to completing it, go for it all the way.
2. Plan your Story: It may sound glamorous to say that you wrote the entire story on the fly, thinking things up as your fingers whizzed over the keyboard. This happens, only in stories! You would be well-advised to mentally plan the outlines of the novel. Which genre will it be? What will it be about? What kind of story would you like to offer?
3. Focus on Writing not Editing: I am not suggesting for a moment that you should write 50,000 words that don’t make sense. They wouldn’t allow that anyway. It’s tempting to edit as you go along and fall into a trap, of your own creation. As experience shows, there is no end to attempting perfection. Every sentence can be improved. Unfortunately if you overly focus on editing, you will not be able to write as much as you should, within the given time frame. Curb the tendency to edit beyond a point. You have all the time to perfect your novel after NaNoWriMo is over end November, anyway.
4. Track Your Progress: It’s not easy to write 1666 words every day for 30 days. On some days, you will write much more. On other days, your output could be much less. On some days, you may not write a word at all. This makes it all the more important for you to track progress. There are, thank God, excellent resources available to help you do this. Tracking your progress helps you stay on top of the task and gives you a great sense of satisfaction as you hit your targets.
5. Enjoy yourself: Lastly, and this is really important, do enjoy what you are doing. Don’t see NaNo as an imposition or a punishment. Nor is it something that you are forcing yourself to do. If such is the case, I am afraid the quality of your writing and consequently your story will be adversely affected.