It’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month 2016. For the entire month of November, experienced and novice writers challenge themselves to crank out a complete novel in only 30 days. Whether you’re a veteran of the challenge or a newbie looking to finally get a jumpstart on that book you always dreamed of writing, the challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days can like a seem pretty like a pretty overwhelming task to take on. It’s guaranteed to push the limits of your creativity, skill, and drive. It will require sacrifice. It will frustrate you. There may even be tears. However, when you hold your draft in your hands at the end of the month, it will all be with it.
I’m taking on the NaNoWriMo 2016 challenge this year, and, if you’re reading this, I bet you are at least contemplating it too. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get throughout the next 30 days without losing your sanity.
Define your own goal.
Okay, the official goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. However, who says you can’t create your own goal? Break that word count down into something that feels more attainable to you. Set a number of chapters, scenes, or pages you want to complete over the next several weeks. Who knows? you may just hit that 50,000 word goal without even realizing it.
Collect some inspiration.
Whether you use a journal, a Pinterest board, a bulletin board, or some combination of the three, putting together an inspiration journal or wall is one of the best things you can do. Find pictures of people who like your main characters and places that look like your setting. Collect writing activities that help you get into your character’s head, prompts for when you get a little stuck, and inspirational quotes to keep you motivated. Not only does it help you conceptualize your characters and setting, it helps you get into the right mindset to tackle your project. Plus, it’s pretty fun too.
Always have something to write on within reach.
Sometimes, the best ideas hit when you least expect them. They hit right before you fall asleep, while you’re sitting at you desk at work, or when you’re getting ready for the day. Always keep a journal, paper and pen, or your phone nearby, so you can jot down these ideas as they come. Otherwise, you risk spending copious amounts of your designated writing time trying to remember that killer plot twist you thought of earlier. Always be ready for when inspiration strikes. (Except when driving. Do not write and drive. That’s not a good combo.)
Not every story starts at the beginning.
Don’t get caught up in thinking you have to starting by writing the opening scene of your story first. You’ll only frustrate yourself. Start in the middle start at the end. Jump around between scenes throughout the process. Let the story lead you. Who knows? Maybe what you thought was the middle or end was really the beginning all along.
Accept the writer’s block will happen.
Writer’s block happens to everyone. It doesn’t make you a failure. It’s just a part of the writing process. There will be days when you’re just going to get stuck. The trick is not letting it stop you completely. Know when you need to work on another scene, reach for a writing prompt, or just walk away for an hour or two. You can always go back to it later. Just don’t quit altogether.
Get a daily dose of inspiration from Will Write For Boots.
I’ll be tackling this challenge right along with you, and, of course, so will this blog. For the entire month of November, I’ll giving some daily love to my fellow NaNoWriMo writers out there. There will be quotes to keep you motivated on your journey, encouragement to get you through those nasty moments of self-doubt and writer’s block, and possibly even a few of my favorite pointers. Come get a little pick-me-up from someone who gets what you’re going through. Share your own NaNoWriMo journey and tips in the comments below. It’s about building up the writing community. We’ll get through this together.
Know that November 30th is not the end.
Just because NaNoWriMo officially ends at midnight on November 30th, it doesn’t mean it’s time to pack it in until November 2017. I like to think of NaNoWriMo as a gateway to establishing good writing habits that you can carry with you for the rest of the year and beyond. It’s about making writing a daily part of your life and getting in the mindset of sticking with a project until the end, of not succumbing to writer’s block or self doubt. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t meet your goal. Don’t let yourself quit, because 30 days wasn’t enough time. NaNoWriMo is not the whole story of your writing career. It’s only the first chapter.