The goal of National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo, is to write a 50,000-word novel. This is a great goal for aspiring authors, as well as already established novelists, and the challenge is a fun way to hone in on your writing skills. However, even though the NaNoWriMo website seems to have everything set up for you to succeed, many writers still encounter obstacles and issues with getting into the NaNo groove and living up to the challenge. But why, you may ask? Well, NaNoWriMo is just that: it is a huge challenge. For authors that already struggle with sitting down and “getting it done,” it may not be so easy to incorporate into your schedule.
So how do you make it work for you and your manuscript? Don’t think that you have to follow the cookie-cutter methods of everyone else—sit down prior to starting the challenge and be honest with yourself about what works for you.
Here are some simple ways to make NaNoWriMo work for you.
- Sign Up
It may sound obvious, but there are authors who decide to partake in this challenge and then don’t even sign up on the website. Signing up on NaNoWriMo’s website can give you that commitment factor that you’ll need to push yourself; it holds you accountable. It also gives you access to the online forum, prompts, and groups, as well as the encouragement you need to write your novel.
- Utilize Social Media.
Social media is a great way to stay connected and motivated during NaNoWriMo. Following NaNoWriMo on Facebook and Twitter will keep you updated on how other writers are doing. Using #NaNoWriMo will put you in the NaNoWriMo community for maximum interaction and motivation, and also let your family and friends know how you’re doing.
- Attend a Local Writing Event
You can connect with other NaNoWriMo members in your local community. It’s a really cool way to connect with other local writers while surrounding yourself with a network to be held accountable. Events range from “write-ins,” where authors all stay locked in a room to write all night, to writing prompt groups. Attending a writing event will motivate you to keep going on your novel and may even inspire some new story elements. Also, try checking Facebook or PW.org to find local writing events near you.
- Utilize Productivity Tools
NaNoWriMo is the perfect time to utilize writing productivity tools. Yes; we all know there are thousands out there, and it can be take hours figuring out which ones are actually beneficial. A good shortcut? Check out what others are saying on the NaNoWriMo site; chances are they’ve been used for this exact task before, which can save you time and make you feel more confident that you’re using the right tool for the month. Research your own or use some of these: Pacemaker, a word count tracker, Write or Die, a productivity tool or Evernote to assist in note taking for stories.
- Literary Lock-In
Locking yourself in a building to reach a word-count goal may sound intimidating but participating in one can give you the writing push you need. You can try to find a community one in your area or just grab a couple writer friends and set up camp in your own house.
- One Page Per Day
If writing 50,000 words comes off as daunting, try to just write a little at a time. The website One Page Per Day will give you one blank page a day to fill up and then your task is finished for the day. If you miss a day it will send you a kind reminder.
- Editing Break
Even though the old adage is to never “edit while you write,” it might work in your favor in this case. f you’ve written all you can for the day but still feel like you need to be working, go through your novel and make some edits. The website Grammarly will scan your manuscript for any mistakes. It’s easy, simple, and saves time.
- Crack Open That Thesaurus
It’s so simple, yet so overlooked. If you’re having trouble with word choice or phrasing, try opening that thesaurus that’s been collecting dust on your shelf, or go to thesaurus.com. Looking through a thesaurus can help diversify your writing, and even spark new ideas.
- Tell People What You’re Doing!
If your family and friends know about your goal, they will help you work at it—believe us! It isn’t just about accountability, though; having your loved ones urge you forward with your writing gives confidence, motivation, and the feeling of not wanting to let down your cheering section.
- Give Something Up
If you’re already busy with work, friends, family, hobbies, exercise, etc., finding the time to sit down and write 50,000 in one month seems pretty impossible. With that in mind, forfeit an activity or two a week for the sake of getting your novel done. It’s only 30 days, so think of it as an investment. You don’t have to meet for happy-hour twice a week with friends, and you could adjust your gym schedule to go earlier in the morning so you can write at night. Have a lunch break you never seem to take at work? Use that already-available opportunity to write for a half hour every day.