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NaNoWriMo: Novel Writing for Procrastinators

Updated on April 23, 2013

Have you ever dreamed about writing a book, or becoming a novel writer?

Are you "in the process of" writing a book, but just haven't "gotten around" to it yet?

Do you find that you simply don't have time, or lack the motivation to start?

If you've answered YES to any of the above three questions, then I have the answer for you - or at least a temporary solution.


NaNoWriMo


National November Writer's Month.

This is an open contest held once a year for writers from all over the world. The goal is to write a minimum of 50 000 words of a brand new novel. You're not limited to that amount of words, so if you're able to write more than that, go for it.

Check this out...

There are almost 1.5 million e-books available to buy online (from as little as $0.00 - yes, there are FREE books online as well!)

Here's the link if you'd like to browse through the million or so books they have available.

I could answer yes to all three of those questions. I'd been saying for years that I was going to write a book. In fact, I was going to wait for my writing career to take off and then write a book.

But, why wait?

Today isn't the same as 10 years ago. We have the advantage of technology.

Do you know how many books are available to read on Kindle?

Go and have a look, I'm sure you'll be very surprised.

It's true - not all books on there are well written, but the fact that it's so easy today to write and self-publish a book, is what's making it possible for writers all over the world to actually publish a book.

Thank goodness for the invention of computers!
Thank goodness for the invention of computers! | Source
The words of millions of writers across the world
The words of millions of writers across the world | Source

Still, I was going to wait until 2013 to start writing my book.

See? Waiting. It's so easy to make an excuse.

And then a few of my blogging friends decided to enter NaNoWriMo. I had second thoughts. It was too stressful. How on earth was I going to write a book, let alone churn out 50 000 words?

That's crazy!

Maybe it was, but I signed up anyway along with the rest of them.

I honestly don't think I'd ever have started my book (at least no time soon) if I hadn't had the pressure of having to write a certain amount of words each day.

Of course, nothing will happen to you if you don't finish or reach the total, but if nothing else - it lifted me out of my period of procrastination.

It was the kick in the butt that I needed!

Writing a Novel - Lessons Learnt


Writing a novel is very different to writing articles, content writing, or blogging. I can see how some writers get writer's block, or scrap their book before they've finished.

It certainly isn't easy.

But, it's an experience worth trying.

Here's what I've learnt since entering the contest:

  1. There are loads of novel writing websites out there that can help you with any doubts or questions you may have about how to start your novel, or what type of genre your novel should be.
  2. Not sure what to name your characters? Check out babynames.com - there are tons of cool/popular/traditional/celebrity names to choose from, and you can even browse baby names by different countries.
  3. A writing support group is imperative. There will be days when you want to give up, and all you really need is someone to talk to who's in the same boat as you. Someone who isn't your partner/friend/family member - who have run out of words of encouragement or pieces of advice. You can browse online for these, there are plenty.
  4. If you have the luxury to write the entire day - fantastic. But, if not, you'll need to block off a few hours a day. Time yourself and block everything else off for those few hours. That means closing Facebook, your email notifications, turning off the radio and even putting your phone on silent if you need to.
  5. You will be sucked into the story of your character.It's inevitable. You need to dig deep to write on what this person is feeling, seeing and doing. Warn your family. You'll be talking about him/her for days and weeks at a time until you've finished your book.
  6. You're not just going to write the first draft and be done with it. That's the easy part. After that, you'll need to go through the whole book chapter by chapter to edit, maybe even more than once. Plan ahead for this if you need to.
  7. Grow a thick skin. Not everyone is going to like what you've got to write, and that's part of the package when you decide to become a writer.
  8. The Internet is incredible. You can describe a staircase, a city, or a piece of clothing in your book simply from browsing online.

Don't worry if you're too late to enter NaNoWriMo this year, you can always enter next year. The contest is open to anyone, from any country.

If you're keen to get started immediately, try and find a writing buddy who also wants to start writing a novel. It's always easier when someone is doing something with you.

If you'd like to start on your own, take a browse online to find writing forums or support groups for new novel writers. It helps to have some support in your corner for the days when your motivation may be slumped and you feel like quitting.

Best of luck!


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    • Enigmatic Me profile image

      3 years ago from East Coast Canada

      I didn't manage the word count my first 2 go arounds. I have a feeling this will be my best year yet. Are you giving it a try this year?? Best of luck with it!

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      So glad you found this hub! ;) I wouldn't have been able to finish without your support either....thank YOU! :)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      5 years ago from Western NC

      Haha, I'm almost finished with my own NaNo hub and looked for awesome hubs to link to. I love it that we came to many of the same conclusions for writing. You are incredible!! Without the support of people like you, I don't know that I would have done it. :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Lord, you should....it's an experience is what it is. I'm both excited and a little sad that it's coming to an end. But, without it - I don't know if I ever would have started this book! Thanks for reading :)

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 

      5 years ago from New York

      Great hub! This Nanowrimo is important for all of us. You cheer writers up, and we hope to join someday. Thanks Melchi!

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Hi GoodLady! Yes....it's a great push to writers I think! So often we talk about "wanting to write a book one day" and then the day just gets pushed further and further away. It's been stressful, but it was necessary. I'm glad I took the plunge, and glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks for reading! :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Thanks Cyndi! Good luck with the rest of NaNoWriMo...just two more weeks to go! Thanks for stopping in to read and comment :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      I know how you feel Stacy! Excited is definitely the word. I would never have dreamed of doing this...sometimes though, I think we just need that extra push to go beyond our limits. :)

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      This has been extremely helpful - one more push towards writing a book that's sitting on a shelf wanting to be written this winter. Many thanks.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      Great suggestions for ways to get moving instead of finding another reason to put off writing that novel that's been languishing, either in you mind or actually sitting on the shelf. I get an email reminding me of the contest. I won't be finished in time, but I plan to finish. Well done.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 

      5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      This is full of great words of wisdom and I can totally relate. I have been saying I was going to write a book for years. And just think, I almost didn't do it. I don't even know what that final straw was that got me there, but I am glad I did. By the end of the month, my book will be done. I was pretty excited the other day as I was talking to my husband about pulishing. Who would have thought.

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Hi Johan, I'm glad you enjoyed this hub - thanks for your comment! :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Hi Bill! If I focus properly, it takes me roughly around 2.5 hours to write 3000 words to this novel. It doesn't sound like too much time if you think about it, but it's draining. I think I'd want to write a book when I had a few months to do absolutely nothing, and sit outside a cabin in the middle of a forest on the deck writing. That would be nice! Thanks so much for reading and commenting....I'm sure you have a lot of ideas for a book from all your travels, though! :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Thank you alancaster149 - That means a lot coming from you! Hopefully I'll be able to say something similar a few years down the line too! :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Thank you Julie! I know you understand what this is all about...can't believe we are almost half-way! :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Hi shiningirisheyes - Thank you so much! I'm a procrastinator of a lot of things though - like right now I still haven't submitted my tax and it's been on my calendar for weeks! I blame NaNoWriMo...things will get back to normal soon, I'm sure. Thanks for your comment :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Bill, I'm really looking forward to that feeling! And thanks for reminding me about your book, I will be purchasing it this week now that I have the Kindle thingy to work. As always, you are an inspiration to many, thank you!! :)

    • MelChi profile imageAUTHOR

      Melanie Chisnall 

      5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Thanks Janine! We are blessed to have such a fantastic support team. It's like gold - I wouldn't change you guys for anything in the world...thank you!! :)

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 

      5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Great motivation, just what I need. Thanks!

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Melanie. This sounds great but I just don't know if I have a book in me. Sounds scary. I still don't consider myself a write yet but maybe someday I'll give it a go when I don't have my day job. I envision writing a novel as taking a lot of time. Your tips are excellent. great job.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      5 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      If I wasn't onto my fourth one (two published, one on the 'stocks'), I'd definitely go for this one! (At the moment I'm fairly screwed down on the deck, what with one thing or another). A useful and interesting Hub for a beginner, and probably a good exercise for someone a little way down the road.

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 

      5 years ago from Clinton CT

      Great Hub Melanie. I concur with a lot of your tips!!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Wonderful journey you walked me through. I am a terrible procrastinator when it comes to only my fulfillment for writing my own novel.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good info Mel! It took me three years to write my novel; it sat on the shelf without being touched over over a year....procrastination for sure. All I know is it's a wonderful feeling when you finish.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      5 years ago from New York, New York

      Mel, great job explaining the experience and so happy to on this journey with you and everyone else, too. This was truly something like you I kept putting off, but honestly so excited that I have decided to do it now. Yet, we all have those days where it is hard to push through, but again that is what a great support team is and for that I thank you. Have voted up a ton and shared all over!!

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