Hey all, and welcome to my blog! These are my Top 4 Tips To Take On NaNoWriMo and “Cheat” The System.
If you’re not already familiar with the annual event, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and challenges writers to pump out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I’ve participated in NaNo many times, but I’ll admit, I never quite follow the rules. Before I get into the cheats, let’s take a look at what the rules actually are.
1. Writing starts at 12:00: a.m. on November 1 and ends 11:59:59 p.m. on November 30, local time.
2. No one is allowed to start early and the challenge finishes exactly 30 days from that start point.
3. Novels must reach a minimum of 50,000 words before the end of November in order to win. These words can either be a complete novel or part of a novel to be completed later.
4. Planning and extensive notes are permitted, but no material written before the November 1 start date can go into the body of the novel.
5. Participants’ novels can be on any theme, genre of fiction, and language. Fanfiction is also permitted.
NaNo has begun. If you’re stressing about this very big task, then fear not, because I’m here to help.
If you’ve not already seriously committed to your writing, this is the perfect opportunity to jumpstart that. A lot of people will have heard about NaNo and if they haven’t, it’s easy enough to explain. People are much more likely to leave you be if you tell them you’re participating in an international competition and you require writing time daily. This is great to train yourself into a writing schedule, but also to train the people around you into respecting that time. The time management skills you make during NaNo will help you gain perspective of your regular schedule and show you that regular work towards your writing career can be accomplished frequently, if not daily.
I know the goal of NaNo is 50K BUT you don’t have to adhere to that if you don’t care about “winning”. If you think 20K is more attainable for you, aim for that instead. You might surprise yourself when you take the pressure off. Whenever I’ve set a smaller goal I’ve always surpassed it but I don’t have that horrible grip of panic that I do when I try to force the 50K. Be realistic with yourself. If you’ve got exams, or you get sick, or something majorly disruptive happens, don’t beat yourself up about it. After all, we’re in a pandemic right now and you need to give yourself a break. You should be proud of any progress you make.
The general idea is to start something fresh, but I tend to use NaNo to make some kickass progress on something I’m working on anyway. Because I’m starting mid-project I’ve already found a flow with the WIP and it’s easier to keep it up with an amped schedule. This also means that even if you don’t finish the project during NaNo you’re already in a good writing groove so it’s easy to keep going after NaNo is over.
I know, what? I’ve spent this whole post telling you TO cheat, but I’m talking about a different kind of cheating. I admire the spirit of NaNo but in many cases you’re pumping out utter garbage while trying to desperately meet your word count and you’ll end up having to scrap most of it. Now, a first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact, it can’t be, but you’re not helping your writing career if you waste a month churning out something unusable.
Don’t load up on adverbs, don’t go crazy on the thesaurus, don’t forgo contractions in the name of your word count. I mean, you can ignore this entirely, but your future self won’t thank you. I think there’s a difference between putting natural words down and deliberately messing with stuff just to add a few extra words. And there’s a difference between knowing you’ll have to edit and knowing you’re adding stuff that is 100% gonna have to be scrapped. To me, that’s just a waste of time and the process of first draft to publication is already long enough.
So that’s all I’ve got for you today, thank you so much for reading and good luck with your NaNo journey.
Check out the video version of this post here: