Don't worry, it's still only October! But now's the time to start thinking whether you should aim this year to take part in NaNoWriMo, a worldwide programme that encourages writers to write 50K words in the month of November. Deciding before the month begins will enable you to clear the decks of other work and ringfence the required writing time to average the necessary 1,666 words per day.
What is NaNoWriMo Anyway?
NaNoWriMo is a not-for-profit organisation set up to help authors everywhere increase their productivity. Many ALLi author members have taken part in NaNoWriMo at one point in their career, and some are annual participants.
How Do I Take Part?
Just sign up for a free account at www.nanowrimo.org, add a few personal details and the title of your project, and start writing however you prefer. From 1st November, log into your account every day to update your total word count. A clear graph of your progress and badges for various milestones will spur you on.
There's also the option of buddying up with fellow writers to compare notes and encourage each other. Some even meet up in real life, while other choose to remain private. You can even take part without using your real name. It's entirely up to you how you want to play it.
However you plan to take part, planning in advance exactly how you'll use your time will increase your chances of success.
You might want to plot your novel chapter by chapter, and allocate each to a time slot, or spend the first ten days planning and plotting, and write 2,500 words per day for the remaining ten days. Just don't leave it till 1st November to start your thinking process.
Why 50K Words? – That’s Not A Novel!
50K words may not be the length of a typical novel, but it's certainly a substantial start for a first draft of something big!
But What About Self-editing?
The idea of NaNoWriMo is that you just keep writing, without looking back, to arrive at your first draft.
Don't self-edit, just write.
That key feature makes it feasible to knock out so many words in such a short time. The editing comes later – when you've had a chance to rest and recover, and reboot your brain in critical rather than creative mode.
What If I'm Not a Novelist?
You can still use the system to drive other kinds of writing, such as non-fiction, short stories, scripts, poetry, and memoir. There's no rule against it, although you may choose to set a different target total to 50K – which would be a lot of poems!
What Happens When I Finish?
Everyone who hits 50K by the end of the month is deemed a winner. This earns you the right to display a badge on your website to share your success. You can also buy merchandise, which helps fund the scheme, as a reward-to-self. Then take a break, put your manuscript away in the proverbial drawer for a while, and come back to it fresh when you're ready to start the editing process required to refine it into a publishable work.
7 Reasons to Sign Up to NaNoWriMo 2017
In case you're still not convinced, here is a summary of reasons cited by ALLi authors who have taken part in previous years:
- helps you focus on your writing
- commits you publicly to a specific deadline
- gives you the excuse to ringfence writing time every day
- gets you into more productive writing habits long-term
- kickstarts stuck projects and pushes them through to the finish
- provides a neat starting point for writing a new project, after prolonged research and planning
- encourages new writers and authors of short fiction to up their game to longer works
Last word to ALLi's director, Orna Ross:
“I love the idea of so many writers around the world united by a comon activity.”
Which really is what ALLi is all about too.
Happy writing – and good luck!
OVER TO YOU How has NaNoWriMo helped you improve as a writer? Do you have top tips about NaNoWriMo to share? We'd love to hear them!#Authors - should you go for @NaNoWriMo this year? Here's 7 reasons why + top tips Click To Tweet
OTHER GREAT POSTS ABOUT NANOWRIMO – FROM THE ALLi ARCHIVE