How Writing A Book in a Month Isn’t Crazy
NaNoWriMo has started. For those of you who have never experienced the National Novel Writing Month, let me update you. In 1999, a small group of writers began NaNoWriMo as way to just get the words out without editing or any of the other speed bumps writers encounter. The object was to run a 50,000 word sprint over a thirty day time period.
NaNoWriMo was so successful it went national, then international, fueled by the internet. Now there is even a NaNo Summer Camp. I’ve tried it. I failed to make the 50,000. Several times. But let me tell you what I learned in the process.
TRYing to write a book in a month is not crazy.
It is, at times, frustrating and stressful. I recommend joining with a group of other writers as a support system. Take a few moment each day to connect and report your word count. You may not reach the daily quota but report anyway. The key word is TRY.
Some writers have no problem sitting down to write…no self-doubt, no procrastination. Words flow from their fingertips. I’m not one of them. You probably aren’t either. Be kind to yourself. Life is stressful on its own. Try to think of NaNo as fun. A game.
Please tell me…why November?
Start of the holiday season. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, there will be a house full of family and friends. Then Christmas gifts to plan, buy, and wrap. Kwanzaa. Hanukkah. Gee Whiz! It’s time to sit down with a calendar and plan.
Write off the day before Thanksgiving, Turkey day, and, if you have guests, the day after. Grab a few minutes each day. Carry a notebook or tablet to make notes for afterward.
If you plan on doing NaNo, then you inform your family and friends that for the month of November they are on their own. That would work in a perfect world but, as we know, our lives are not perfect. There is work, kids, spouses, the dog that needs walking, and the friend that talks you into going shopping. You are asking them to aide you in your attempt. You, in turn, must make a commitment to yourself to perform.
Preparation is necessary whether a Pantser or Planner.
The month of October is for planning out your story. Whether it is a detailed synopsis or formal outline, there needs to be a beginning, middle, and end. Name your characters. Get as much as possible firmly set in your mind or on paper. Julia Allen offers some great advice in her “Tips for Winning Nano” article from last year.
It is said that, before you start a story, you should know the ending. Does your protagonist reach their goal? Think about the journey he/she might take. What obstacles are there? What are the themes in your story? Revenge? Survival?
Aim for the 50,000 but don’t punish yourself
I have seen negativity start in the second week. People doubt themselves because they can’t keep up with the daily quota. They try to catch up. The stress builds. Don’t do that to yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Remember?
Do not edit yourself. This is a first draft. We all know first drafts are a pile of poo but they lay the groundwork for the second and third draft. Keep going. You aren’t going to end up with a national best seller in 30 days but who knows about after you clean it up, shine it up, and send it out into the cold, cruel world.
Allow for interruptions. Be flexible.
Unless you write from home, live on a generous allowance, and have no connections in the outside world, you will have interruptions. Wait! Even then, you will have to run to the grocery store for more coffee.
Flexibility and patience will save your sanity and keep you from throwing up your hands in defeat. The 50,000 word goal line is wonderful to cross but the important thing is that you create the story you’ve been carrying around inside you. That, and the love of family and friends.
You CAN write a book in 30 days. How long it ends up being depends on you.
Nancy E. Miller, romantic suspense author of Shark Bait and Crystal Unicorns, lives near St. Louis with her husband and three dogs, pygmy goats, and a cranky rooster named Ketchup. Her degree is in Psychology and Sociology. She has worked in education and mental health as a case manager and crisis counselor.