Image: Matthew Loffhagen
It’s that time yet again – the month of the year when budding novelists prepare to write a whole book, tracking their progress and creating an amazing community as they go. That’s right, November is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo), and we have everything you need to make sure you meet your goals.
Last year, we broke NaNoWriMo down week by week, offering specific advice on sensible goals and how to reach them. This year… well, things haven’t really changed that much, so instead of rehashing year-old advice, I’ve collected our NaNoWriMo resources in one place, here for readers new and old to take advantage of on their journey.
What to know before you start
National Novel Writing Month didn’t spring up out of nowhere – it’s an official event with a home base and a thriving community. If you’re only just deciding to join in now, or if you were planning to go it alone, check out the official site here for resources and information – the worldwide map of word count is especially useful in keeping motivated and using a sense of occasion to push yourself to create.
The official goal is 50,000 words, and affiliates like the Young Writers Program, Camp NaNoWriMo, and the Come Write In! program offer a choice of approaches. If you want to enter the discussion or just keep up with those who are leading it, RiteTag have a list of the hashtags most commonly used around the event on social media.National Novel Writing Month offers an invigorating sense of community.Click To Tweet
Of course, we have our own advice for those starting NaNoWriMo, and the articles below focus on getting you ready to make the most of this unusual, but dependable, occasion.
- 7 Ways to Supercharge Your Writing Over NaNoWriMo
- A 4-Step Strategy For Finding Your NaNoWriMo Stride
NaNoWriMo works best when you commit to it as a fixed period of time in which to meet a concrete goal, and that can be aided by engaging in the community that springs up around the event. The articles below aren’t National Novel Writing Month specific, but they do offer valuable advice for getting the most out of your commitment to write.
- Why You Need A Dedicated Writing Space And How To Find It
- Want To Improve Your Writing? Here Are The Six People You Need To Find
- 7 (Free) Online Writing Tools That Will Make You More Productive
- How To Get Your Partner To Support Your Writing
NaNoWriMo really is a marathon rather than a sprint, and the biggest cause of people dropping out is the loss of momentum that strikes once that initial burst of inspiration starts to wane.
Last NaNoWriMo, we produced a week-by-week guide of where your story should be at – what to aim for – as the month progresses. Every story and writer is different, so it’s aimed at a traditional story structure and consistent writing speed, but consider using the articles below as tools to keep you working and give you a new goal each week.
You may want to read these articles in preparation and revisit them later or you may wish to save each for the beginning of the week to which it applies, keeping the advice fresh and relevant. However you use them, remember that they’re advice, not rules, and please comment on them if you have questions or advice for other authors (the same applies to this article).
- NaNoWriMo Week 1: How To Get Your First Draft Started – This article focuses on setting achievable goals for National Novel Writing Month, planning what you’re going to do over the month, identifying the core tenets of a good story, and working out a basic plot timeline.
- NaNoWriMo Week 2: How To Flesh Out Your Characters and Structure – This article focuses on story structure and plot milestones, how to keep writing even after initial excitement has faded, and introducing setting and characters.
- NaNoWriMo Week 3: How To Get Over The Hump (And More) – This article marks the halfway point of National Novel Writing Month and focuses on exploring antagonists, building tension, and how to handle the ‘volta’ or turning point in a story.
- NaNoWriMo Week 4: How To Conclude Your Story – In this penultimate article, I focus on a surprising method for ensuring your project gets finished, the difference between the climax and the ending, epilogues, and how to close a character arc in a way that leaves the reader satisfied.
- NaNoWriMo Week 5: How To Finish And Edit Your Story – This article, intended to guide you out of National Novel Writing Month without losing valuable momentum, focuses on taking stock of your progress in a way that motivates further writing, how to start editing, and further resources for authors who want to continue developing their work.
The biggest potential drawback of NaNoWriMo is that by giving budding authors one month a year where they’re totally focused on writing, it’s possible to encourage less productive behavior elsewhere. To that end, it’s a good idea to begin NaNoWriMo with the intention of using it as the first stage of a process that will continue long after.NaNoWriMo is best treated as the first part of a longer process.Click To Tweet
Happily, we’ll be with you every step of the way, both through our huge library of existing articles and in the new ones we publish every Monday and Wednesday. We’re always adding to what we offer, but here are a few of the resources that already exist to help you build on your NaNoWriMo accomplishments:
- 40 Exercises And Resources Every Author Needs
- Free story checklist and beta reader questionnaire
- Our editing services
And, finally, know that when you’re done, we’ll also help you find an audience:
If you’re preparing for NaNoWriMo, or still just considering whether it’s for you, then good luck. It can be a fantastic experience that pays huge dividends, and if it’s something you want to try, I encourage you to take that extra step and use the official tracker and message boards to amp up your productivity.
What are your National Novel Writing Month plans and goals? Do you love the occasion or skip it every year? Let me know in the comments.