It’s November – National Novel Writing Month! If you haven’t heard of NaNoWriMo, it’s a challenge where you attempt to write the first 50,000 words of a novel between the 1st and 30th of November. That averages out at 1,667 words a day, which, though challenging, is an achievable target. Taking part in National Novel Writing Month can be an excellent motivator for getting started and making good progress on your novel. It can also be daunting, especially if it’s your first time taking part – so we’ve collected together the top tips from Writers’ Café staff for making this November a roaring success.
Paul says: Develop a writing routine. Figure out the best time of day to write, whether it’s first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee, a quick lunchtime writing session to give yourself a break from work, or a late evening one while the rest of your household relaxes in front of the TV (try not to get jealous). By getting into a routine, you’ll ensure that you’re putting those words on the page every single day of the month.
Ellie says: Ditch quality. Don’t worry about the ‘rules’ for good writing, and just tell your story using the first words that pop into your head, regardless of whether they include adjectives, adverbs, cliches, or anything else that’s generally considered ‘bad writing’. You’ll have to edit later anyway, and that’s always easier to do when you know what the story as a whole looks like. So focus on the quantity of words over quality, and get the shape of your story on paper this month.
Sharni says: Set yourself a timer and compete against yourself. Aim to write as many words as possible in a set time – you can even keep track of your ‘personal best’, if you like. Racing against a timer is a great way to increase your word count, as it pushes you into speed typing through your available writing time. It’s hard to procrastinate once that countdown starts ticking away! Just remember to be kind to yourself, because some days will go better than others.
Julie says: If you fall off the writing wagon, get back on it as quickly as you can. Just pick up where you left off. Don’t try to immediately make up for any ‘missed’ words – trying to catch up an extra couple of thousand words in one chunk will only overwhelm you. Keep aiming for those 1,667 words per day, and slowly make up for any lost days. And you know what? Even if you never quite make up the lost days, you’ll still have written almost 50,000 words in November, which is awesome.
Bonus tip: Create some regular ‘rituals’ to ease yourself into writing. Whether it’s making yourself a favourite writing snack or hot drink each time you sit down to write, having a writing playlist on repeat, or even wearing a special ‘writing hat’ – little habits like these can be super-helpful in getting you into the right frame of mind for writing. After a few repetitions, the appearance of those little signals will start ‘tricking’ your brain into thinking it must be time to write – making it easier to get into the groove each writing session.