Can you write a 50,000 word novel in a single month?
Last November, I did.
I participated in the ninth annual National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as Nanowrimo) for the first time. Nanowrimo’s mix of peer support, “let’s finish it” philosophy, and my own desire to succeed allowed me to complete a 52,000 word novel in 30 days.
You see, even though I’ve written short stories and poems galore, the ability to finish a novel eluded me. Nanowrimo changed that. I can now call myself a novelist. Yea again!
Nanowrimo was a learning experience. The “let’s finish it” philosophy is revolutionary to a writer like me who worries about getting each word right the first time around.
Here are some tips to having a successful Nanowrimo:
- Turn off the internal editor. Do not worry about making it perfect. Get it down on paper now. You can fix it next month.
- Write. Do not read over what you’ve already written. Look over the last sentence or two (without changing anything) to get a feel for where you stopped and then start writing again.
- If you get stuck, stop writing that scene and move on to another scene. One of my fellow participants titled one of her chapters “Chapter 4 – A chapter in which the author has no idea what happens.” She moved on to Chapter 5 and finished the book.
- Affiliate with your region if you have one and participate in the group activities. Last year, the Columbia, SC region held a plotting bash, a kickoff, several write-ins, a lock-in (at my house), and a thank-god-it's-over party. We held each other accountable, and we also had lots of fun!
Some of the events that we are planning:
- Noveling 101 – (October) On the basic structure of novels and how to use this structure when writing.
- Creativity Kicker – (October) Exercises to kickstart our creativity and get ready to write.
- Plotting Bash – (October) Different ways that we can plot out our novels and then talking about our ideas. Both Plotters and Pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants) are welcome!
- Kickoff – (November 1) We’ll have a few word wars and we’ll socialize.
- Write-ins – (November) Held in various places all over the Columbia area at various times. Last year, we held them at the IHOP in Lexington, the Richland County main library, the USC campus, and the Sandhills mall. The area message boards on www.nanowrimo.org provide information throughout the month of November.
- Lock-in – (November) A tremendous success last year. For one whole day (from 8:00 am until midnight), we “locked” ourselves in and wrote. Some participants wrote over 10,000 words.
- Thank-God-It’s-Over Party – (early December) The final event of Nano. We’ll celebrate the success of completing 50,000 word novels.
For more information on the National Novel Writing Month, visit www.nanowrimo.org. The boards will open up on October 1. If you have questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope that some of you guys will join us.