November, a month marked by the early chills of winter and the warm embrace of family gatherings, has another significant claim to fame in the literary world: National Novel Writing Month, fondly known as NaNoWriMo. Each year, thousands embark on a quest to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Sound challenging? It is. But with the right strategy, it’s not just achievable, but also immensely rewarding.
Why Take the Challenge?
Before delving into the “how,” let’s consider the “why.” NaNoWriMo isn’t just about word counts; it’s about discipline, dedication, and daring to dream. By committing to this challenge, you:
- Forge a Habit: It takes roughly 21 days to form a habit. With NaNoWriMo’s 30 days, you’re setting a sturdy foundation for a consistent writing practice.
- Silence the Inner Critic: The breakneck speed of this challenge means there’s no time for second-guessing. It’s a beautiful exercise in learning to let go and let flow.
- Connect with a Community: Joining NaNoWriMo means being part of a global community of writers, all encouraging and supporting one another.
Remember: It’s Okay If You Don’t Finish!
Embarking on the NaNoWriMo journey is commendable, regardless of the outcome. If you ever feel like you can’t continue or decide to pause your writing, remember there’s no shame in it. Click here for a dose of understanding, support, and encouragement.
Stepping Stones to 50,000 Words
- Plotting vs. Pantsing: Some writers swear by detailed outlines (plotters), while others dive in with just a vague idea and see where the story takes them (pantsers). Figure out which camp you belong to. Or be a “plantser” and mix the best of both worlds. Read more about plotting vs. pantsing from Rachel Rowlands. It’s important that you don’t overthink it and be willing to change things up if you want.
- Daily Word Count Goals: The math is simple: 50,000 words over 30 days equals 1,667 words per day. However, consider front-loading your word count in the initial enthusiasm-filled days or setting aside dedicated “writing marathons” during weekends.
- Choose Your Writing Tools: Whether it’s a vintage typewriter (-style keyboard…), a laptop with Scrivener, or just a plain old notebook, find what makes you most comfortable and productive.
- Establish a Writing Haven: Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you can write undisturbed. This physical space can be as crucial as mental space when diving deep into your story. Find your Zen Den. Block out the world with headphones if that helps!
- Join Writing Sprints: These are timed challenges where writers aim to write as many words as possible. They can be a great way to boost your word count and connect with the community. You can also create your own writing sprints.
Overcoming the Mid-Month Slump
It’s common for the initial adrenaline to wane by the middle of the month. Here’s how to push through:
- Revisit Your ‘Why’: Remember the reason you embarked on this challenge. Reconnect with that spark.
- Seek Inspiration: Read a chapter of a favorite book, watch a movie, take a walk, or listen to music. Sometimes, stepping back momentarily can propel you forward.
- Connect with Fellow Writers: Share your challenges and triumphs. The NaNoWriMo community is vast and supportive. Lean on them.
The Finish Line and Beyond
Reaching 50,000 words is exhilarating, but the journey doesn’t end on November 30th. Take a well-deserved break, then come back with fresh eyes for editing and refining. Remember, the true essence of NaNoWriMo lies not in the completion but in the journey, the discipline, and the stories born from sheer determination.
Whether you cross that 50,000-word mark or not, NaNoWriMo is an adventure in creativity, discipline, and self-discovery. It’s a celebration of stories waiting to be told. So, gear up, dive in, and let your words flow this November. Every word you write is a triumph.