For those who just tripped over that gobbledygook of a word, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. And if you're a writer, it's about to become your favorite time of the year, too. All over the world, writers try to produce 50,000 words on a brand new manuscript in the span of one month. Sound impossible? Welllllll . . . it depends.
I've done NaNo since 2006 -- and skipping the year my child was born and I dealt with all the cancer fun -- I've participated for ten years. I love it. There's something so wonderful about trying to write a novel (or most of one) at the same time as thousands of other people. I like the daily word count goals, and I'm a huge fan of the messy, no-editing-allowed first draft. So as a veteran NaNo-er, I'm going to give you my best tips and tricks for surviving November, NaNo-style.
1. Outline, plot, or do something to prepare. You've got a week before November 1st. Use it wisely. Even if you're a pantser, it's a really good idea to have something in mind for the story you'd like to write, or you may find yourself flailing to get 1667 words each day. For a crash course in plotting, check out this post on Kidliterati.
2. Set up your document. If you're using Word, this is simple -- create and name a document, set up the headers, and write out the title. But if you're a Scrivener user, this will take more time. Trust me, it's much better to have all your folders and scenes set up so you're not wasting precious time come November 1st.
3. Plan. Specifically, when are you going to write? Figure out a time now, and then stick to it. (This is good advice for writing all the time, not just NaNo.)
5. Sprints! Once you're in the thick of it, writing sprints are a great way to up your daily word count. NaNo runs official sprints on Twitter, participants will post word wars and sprints on the forums, local organizations might run sprints in-person or online, or you can gather some friends together and do your own.
6. For the love of all that is holy and good, DO NOT EDIT. I repeat, November is not the month to edit your words. That's December. NaDecEdiMo. Or something.
7. Finally, it's okay not to finish! I'm going to let you in on my secret. In the ten years I've done NaNo, I've never once "won." I've never hit 50,000 words in one month. Life creeps in, and that's okay. Because you know what? I'll still have finished the month with a huge head start on a new manuscript, and that's accomplishment enough. Also, if you try it and you find NaNo isn't for you, that's okay too! We all have our own processes, and the best thing you can do for your writing (and your sanity) is to be true to your process.
For more on NaNo, see "What to Think About Before NaNoWriMo" (a three-part series!), Wondering if You Should Do NaNoWriMo?, and Getting Kids to Write the NaNoWriMo Way.
If you're in this year, feel free to friend me on NaNo (I'm morgail), see if the Kidliterati crew is tweeting on the #campbeta hashtag (join us!), and happy writing!