Every November, people all across the country and world try to write 50,000 words in 30 days in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. While I haven’t “won” it – aka succeeded in 50,000 words in 30 days – I have participated. In 2008, I wrote 35,000 words before hitting major writer’s block, and then in 2009 I wrote another 45,000 in 2 months. Those 80,000 words turned into the first draft of Aureole! So here are my tips for writing a LOT in a short period of time, whether it’s 35,000 or 50,000, in 1 month or 2.
- Write whenever you have the chance: When I finished an assignment in class (I was a senior in high school), I wrote. When my band director focused on another section of the band, I wrote. When I was bored, I wrote. You get the idea. I wrote every single moment that I had the opportunity, and that was what made that first draft possible.
- Even if you don’t hit your word count for the day, write every day: In order to win NaN0WriMo, you need to write 1,667 words a day. But it’s much easier to catch up if you fall behind if you write something. It’s simply math – 100 words is more than 0. Plus, by writing even just something every day, you’ll establish the habit, which can last after November is over.
- Carry a notebook with you or have an app on your phone ready for writing: This goes along with writing whenever you have a chance. The last thing you want is for inspiration to strike when you don’t have anything to write on or with. I would suggest using the Evernote app, because you can have an entire electronic notebook and write segments as separate notes. This way, at the end of the day, you can sit down and put all of your notes in the same document without losing a couple hundred words.
- Schedule writing time in your day: Most of us are busy, so you’re not just going to magically find time to write if you don’t make time for it. If you write whenever you have the chance during your day, schedule some time at the end of the day to sit down and transfer everything you have written so far into your writing software or a Word document. This way, you can see how much you have written so far and how much more you have to write that day.
- Don’t give up: NaNoWriMo is hard. There’s nothing around it. So keep going because you can do it.
- Focus on writing, not editing while writing: I’m a perfectionist. I want to spend time crafting the perfect sentence. But NaNoWriMo is all about getting the words down, which is really what writing a first draft should be all about. There’s plenty of time later to nitpick around the perfect sentence, so just write this month.