NaNoWriMo is a great idea. It’s a whole month dedicated to trying to write a novel. If you want support, there are forums on the site and local chapters, and a whole lot of people worldwide that know exactly what you are going through.
There’s only one problem with NaNoWriMo, the rules! They’re great for some writers, but they don’t work for everyone, including me, and a lot of writers I know. I played by them my first time, in 2004, with a novel idea I loved. I completed 50,000 words in 30 days, but I’ve never been able to revise or rewrite that mess (and I’ve tried several times). After that I played by my own rules, until 2009, when I tried it their way again. It was another complete disaster of a novel.
Playing by their rules wasn’t all bad. It helped me get into the habit of writing every day and it pushed me to meet a huge goal. Now that I’ve tried it (twice!), I’ll be playing by my own rules for my sixth NaNoWriMo. Here are six tips to make NaNoWriMo work for you:
1. Start when you want to start. If you have an idea for a first sentence or three chapters before NaNoWriMo officially starts, go ahead and write them. Just don’t include the pre-writing word count as part of your final total. Aim to write 50,000 new words for the month, even if you don’t start your novel on November first. I have one writer friend who has to write the opening sentence in October, and another who has to write the beginning and ending scene to the novel before starting.
2. Don’t worry about word count. Word count can make you obsess about how many words you are typing instead of the quality of those words, or whether they help move the story forward. Try to write more than you would in a normal month, no matter what the word count ends up being at the end.
3. Rewrite or revise an old idea. If you need or want to work on an existing project instead of something new, do that. It’s better to reach a goal on a project you’ve got going, than to get writers block on a new project because you can’t get the other story out of your head.
4. Write more than one story. If you’re not finished with the novel you’re already writing by November first, finish it before starting a new novel (include those words in your final total too, as long as you wrote them in November). If you’re writing short stories or a chapter book series, use multiple stories as your NaNoWriMo novel.
5. Write your own rules. Use whatever tricks you have up your sleeve to make writing a priority for the month. Some ideas: treat yourself for meeting weekly goals, announce your goals publicly and be accountable to a writing partner, your family, or the internet, or set a timer (10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, etc) every time you sit down to write, and when the timer goes off, continue writing until you get to the end of the scene or chapter.
6. Follow the rules. I know, this is supposed to be about breaking the rules, but if they work for you, keep doing what works.
Be a NaNoRebel and make the challenge fit your goals. Remember, if you break the rules one year, that doesn’t mean you can’t follow them again the next time.
p.s. If you’ve never done NaNoWriMo and aren’t sure you can do it, check out my post: Six tips for writing 50k in 30 days for NaNoWriMo!
Today’s guest post is brought to you by writer & artist extraordinaire, Ani Louise! Who thought a rule breaker could be so cute?
Bio: Ani Louise is a MG/YA writer, artist, and zombie cheerleading coach. She tells stories so other people can hear the voices in her head, and likes to hang out on Twitter as Ani_Lou She blogs occasionally here .