It’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month! Known affectionately among the participants as NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month was created in 1999 by a group of 21 writers. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is for writers to create their own 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Participants begin writing on November 1 and stop writing on November 30.
In 2006, NaNoWriMo had more than 79,000 participants. Of those, almost 13,000 began and finished their novels in those thirty days.
Anyone can participant, and there’s no official “check” to determine if you did, indeed, write an original novel in 30 days. So what’s the purpose of it all? There’s no prize for the best book. There’s no award for the one who writes the fastest. Indeed, there’s no tangible reward at the end of the month–except a complete novel.
Each participant has his or her own reasons for participating in NaNoWriMo. Some enjoy the challenge of writing so quickly and feverishly. Others participate for the camaraderie and commiseration with other writers. And some simply want to see if it’s possible to write a novel in 30 days.
So if you’re thinking about joining the NaNoWriMo and writing a novel in thirty days, here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Get prepared. For some writers this means creating a detailed outline of the plot. For others it means writing short biographies of the main characters. Whatever you need to do to prepare for writing a novel, make sure it’s ready by November 1.
Step 2: Set a daily goal. Writers are some of the world’s best procrastinators. To avoid the type of procrastination that could prevent you from finishing within thirty days, set a daily word count goal. On average, you need to write a minimum of 1,667 words each day to have a 50,000 word novel complete by the end of the month.
Step 3: Commit to a time. Although many writers prefer the fly-by-your-seat approach to finding time for writing, this type of serious goal requires a serious commitment. Pick a time of day–whether it’s right after you get up in the morning, during your lunch hour at work, or immediately following the evening news–and commit to writing at that time every day.
Step 4: Prepare your family. Let your loved ones know about your commitment. Ask for their support and respect during this time. You’re going to need someone to make you coffee, someone to bring you food, and someone to understand when you’re feeling a little bit cranky.
Step 5: Just do it. As trite as it sounds, writing is all about putting the words on paper. If you stick to your schedule and your daily word count goals, you’re guaranteed to have a finished 50,000 word novel by the end of 30 days.