Friday, October 22, 2010

Becca's Tips for Conquering NaNoWriMo!

I've been wanting to do a post on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated) for a while now, but lately a carpal-tunnel, muscle-spasmy thing has been happening in my right hand and writing/typing has been really hard. Luckily it feels a little better today and I am going to make the best of it!

So... NaNoWriMo. If you're a participate, most likely you're a rabid fan and you laud its amazingness to all your friends and violently urge them to join you. If you're one of these friends, you probably think it's totally crazy. Writing a novel in a month, pssh! Can't be done!

Well, it can. The thousands of people who complete the 50,000 word challenge everywhere are a testament. My favourite thing about NaNo is that it turns wannabe writers into real writers. I know so many people that say they envy me because I "have the time" to sit down and write all these books, and I just want to shout at them, "TRY NANO." Seriously, all the time you need to write a book is an hour a day. If you sit your butt down and write for a whole hour, you can make the 1,667 words, and if you do it every day you'll have a whole novel in 30 days. Really, it's not that hard!

With that said, it's not that easy, either. I have a few tried-and-true tricks I've used to help me win NaNo the past two years.

1. Just sit there and freaking write. I can't stress this enough. Don't type a sentence, then go back and delete a word, then contemplate the theme and meaning of said sentence. You will get nowhere if you take it phrase-by-phrase, trying to craft a work of art. Seriously - your novel will not be a work of art the first time around. It will be an absolute shambles. The sooner you can accept it, the better.

Just write. Write the first thing that comes into your head, and then build on it. It's the equivalent of a band jamming together, just riffing on each others' sounds. Learn to riff with yourself.

Besides, there's always December for your editing.

2. Use Write or Die. Dr Wicked's Write or Die is a godsend. It's the kick-in-the-pants you need if you just can't concentrate. Set your goal relatively low (that way you really feel like you're accomplishing something when you make the goal!), and set the time pretty high. Then just write, as fast as you freakin' can. You'll be amazed at the amount of material you'll be able to pound out when a clock is counting down on you.

For maximum effectiveness you can pretend a bomb will go off if you don't get to 500 words.

3. Try really hard to pound out a beginning, middle, and end. This is really important, and something I failed on the past two years. I wrote two superhero sci-fi epics, and both times I got to 50,000 words without reaching the end of the story. Both of these novels I went on to finish in December, but at a much slower pace and while having much less fun than I did in November.

Even if it cuts out giant chunks of your story, try to finish the novel. The goal is for your final two words to be 'The End.' I'm going to be working hard on this one.

4. Start a brand-new novel on November 1st. Don't bring an idea you've been building up in your head for months - or years. Don't bring a half-finished manuscript you've been wrestling with. These are against the rules, and if you commit those crimes rabid monkeys will come after you.

Bring something completely new to the table. Or don't bring any ideas! You could start with one character, one inciting event, and start off into the Great Noveling Beyond with not a clue where it's going.

Closely related to that...

5. Have fun. Write something that excites you. Write something that ignites passion, something that brings a manic smile to your face. Something that you just can't wait to share with the world.

Whether or not you're participating in NaNoWriMo, stay passionate. Good writing can come later.


  1. NaNoWriMo gets a lot of eye rolls from book snobs who think nothing written in 30 days can be that good. What they don't understand is that it's not about how good it is; it's about getting it done. You'd be amazed at how many people can write an awesome half a book, but still don't have the balls to finish the darn thing. That does no one any good.

    Just my opinion, but I think for those people who start and start and start and never finish anything, writing a book is mandatory. Just prove you can do it. Know what it feels like. And then, like you said, you can write a good book later.

  2. I agree with the 'Have Fun' point. Smile, damnit! Its not like 'War and Peace' was written in 30 days...!

  3. Haha, exactly! I can't imagine how long W&P took...

    Absolutely, Elizabeth. So many people write themselves off: "Oh, I can't finish writing a book, I just can't." They don't even KNOW they can't really do it! Don't even think about those doubts. Wipe your slate of expectations. Amaze yourself.