Writing a novel in a month is easier said than done. As NaNoWrimo approaches, writers all over the world are grabbing their laptops and preparing vats of coffee, vague ideas or intricate plans firmly in hand. For those not in the know, the objective of writing fifty thousand words in thirty days is ludicrous, especially since most of the entrants have either work or school to contend with as well. It is possible, however, with the correct mix of steeliness, determination and camaraderie. It is definitely possible, if you go into it with the correct attitude.
Having said that, I have never finished NaNoWriMo. I usually get ten thousand words through then get bored or lose faith in my plot and characters. Though the wise William Faulkner said that:
If a story is in you, it has got to come out.
I would respectfully disagree with this. As an adept procrastinator, I know all too well that a story can live inside you fermenting for an interminably long time. Most people will eventually have an idea that they think will make a good book or film. The vast majority do not manage more than the first five thousand words. Writing a book is hard.
This year I intend to see it through, if just to prove a point. I have an idea, a plan, all that I need to do is actually write out the words. Therefore, I decided to compile a list of tips and tricks to help myself, and hopefully others, to complete this impressive feat.
- Have a plan. This is instrumental to actually finishing your first draft. An unplanned novel meanders in a way that is both confusing and infuriating, and will be difficult to edit into any sort of sense.
- Compile a playlist. Using Spotify or YouTube create a playlist of songs that will put you in the mood for writing. It helps to have no lyrics or a disruptive beat. If you think of a film in the same genre as your book then it is possible that the soundtrack can be really relevant to your writing.
- Write every day. If you get words onto the page then you have succeeded. Even if the flow is stilted and the word choice poor, it is better than nothing at all. NaNoWriMo does not discriminate between the articulate and those fighting with writers’ block.
- Writing time is sacred. Treat the time that you set aside to write as if it is an appointment. If someone invites you to something whilst you are supposed to be working on your book then it is perfectly acceptable to say that you are busy.
- Remain calm. If you are three thousand words down, then you will get nowhere by stressing over a blank document. Harness the adrenaline, yes, but remember that it is just NaNoWriMo. No one will die if you don’t make it in time. Go on Minecraft and destroy entire forests with TNT, whatever will put you in a steadier mental state.
- NaNoWriMo is not life. Although you want to get to the finish line in time, do not neglect your friends. Put time aside to give them attention, and talk about things that are not related to writing. No one is interested in your book until they can hold it in their hands, in either manuscript or paperback form.
- Spend time on the NaNoWriMo forums to make writing friends. These are people that are probably more interested in your obsession, and can help you power through to the finish.
- Have fun! Writing is arguably the most fun part about being an author, and it is the reason that people commit to this task every year. Keep the end in sight and grit your teeth until it is over.
There is no golden period to write, just as you will never feel entirely prepared for an exam. Keep trying, keep typing, and write your way into being an author.
Fifty thousand words in thirty days?
Piece of cake.