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NaNoWriMo Advice

NaNoWriMo postcardI’ve talked before about why I personally don’t do NaNoWriMo anymore, but despite that, I still have advice for NaNoWriMo folks, based on my experience in past years! I think NaNoWriMo is valuable for newer writers, and even some experienced writers who need the proverbial kick in the pants to get started on a project.

My top advice for those doing NaNoWriMo is:

  1. Pre-plan. You’re going to need a plan to get through writing a novel in 30 days. I recommend an outline. If you’re allergic to outlines, at least have a rough sketch in your head of what the big conflict of your novel is. Going into writing a novel without a plan can result in cool stuff, but having a plan in advance really helps when you get stuck, and guides you toward having something useful when the month is over.
  2. Write ahead. No, I’m not advocating cheating here. I’m suggesting that if you have time to exceed the word count needed on a given day, do it. You never know what life is going to throw at you toward the end of the month. If common wisdom says you need to write 1,667 words a day, shoot for 2,000 words a day. That way, you can build up a buffer in case you just can’t write one day. It also prevents you from needing 10,000 words in the last three days of the month. (Yes, I’ve seen that happen, and I’ve seen someone win after being in that position. But it wasn’t easy.)
  3. Finish. This is a two-fold bit of advice. The first is that you’ve got to try to get through your 50,000 words. But the likelihood is that you won’t have finished a novel in 50,000 words. And maybe you’ll be burned out at the end of November. (Let’s be honest. You WILL be burned out.) But you’ve still got to finish the novel if you ever want to do anything with it. So let it sit, but finish it, sooner rather than later. Try to get the same urgency as you had while doing NaNoWriMo to keep yourself generating new words until it’s done.
  4. Even if you don’t “win,” you’re still a winner! While the official “win condition” for NaNoWriMo is getting through 50,000 words, in my opinion, if you end November with 500 more words than you had at the beginning of November, you’re still a winner, because you wrote words!


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