How to Survive and Conquer National Novel Writing Month, 2015


NaNo is coming. 

You’re either here because you come here often or you’re terrified about this seemingly not at all doable thing you’ve just signed up for and need some advice. If you’re new here – look to your right. There’s a shiny blue follow button. Click it so you don’t miss out! (This is the first and last time we will ask you to subscribe in a post, but this is important stuff. The health of your novel, and yourself, is at stake.)

You can get something out of this post whether you’re NaNo’ing or not, but if you are, welcome. We’ll be posting NaNo tips, etc. every Monday (and maybe more days of the week) for the next month and a half, or longer. Stay tuned.

For now, you might just want to know if you can do this. Is there time? Is 50,000 words a thing you can even do, ever? First of all: yes. Second of all, don’t think of it as writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Think of it as writing 1,667 words every day during November.

That’s our first slice of advice. Here’s some more. 

Write 500 words at a time

Now, even if you’re not so good at math (duh, that’s why you’re a writer), it’s easy to figure out that 500 does not equal 1,667. When we say “write 500 words at a time,” we don’t mean you should write 500 words right before you go to bed and settle for that. You could. If you’re not in it to win it, there’s nothing wrong with that. Some people do it just to get themselves motivated. It works.

If almost 2,000 words a day seems like way too much to handle, don’t think of it as 1,667 words before bed. Think of it as 500 words between coffee and breakfast. 500 words before lunch. 500 words on the train/bus/subway/hover board ride home (unless you’re piloting). 500 words between dinner and bed. That seems much more manageable, and look—you’re already over your daily average. And sometimes, by the time you hit 500 words, it actually becomes hard to stop.

Choose certain days of the week as your forum days 

Some of the best times you’ll have during NaNo involve other people. Your region and other community forums are great places to bounce ideas off strangers, meet new people and, well, just talk about writing (which many of your friends and family probably, really don’t understand). This is all great, except, just like social media, it’s hard to enjoy the community aspect without getting sucked in.

You can write 1,667 words every day and still be part of an amazing online community. To avoid getting lost in the forum vortex, choose two, three or maybe just one day per week where you’re allowed to go online and check the forums. After you’re done writing for the day, that is. 

Do not look back

NaNo is the time of year meant for locking your inner editor in your basement and leaving them alone in the dark for 30 days. Sprinting (writing a lot of words in one sitting, because goals) has its downsides. You will spell things wrong. You will make really dumb grammar mistakes. You will realize, in the middle of a chapter, you’ve messed up a plot line, forgotten someone’s name, can’t think of the word you want to use.

You just have to keep going. Do not scroll up; do not look back. This is honestly the only way you’re going to make it. And this is good for you. Sometimes the most important thing is just getting the thing done, and leaving your inner editor out of it (no matter how much they will resent you). Sure, you’ll need to make it up to them later if you ever want to make it through your revision period, but that’s a blog post for another month.



If you haven’t signed up yet, do it now!

Happy planning!

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

5 thoughts on “How to Survive and Conquer National Novel Writing Month, 2015

  1. Per our permission situation, I scheduled this as a featured guest post for Oct 31st! As usual, I’ve added credit/bio/link back to your blog. Have a great day!

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