Preparing for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
Up for the Challenge?
November 1st, marks the first day of National Novel Writing Month also known as NaNoWriMo. This a novel writing challenge in which you write 50,000 words or more in 30 days (the month of November). Everyone is welcome to participate and you're not obligated to complete the challenge. This is a challenge for yourself. It's a way for you to stop making excuses and start writing. Let's face it, sometimes we all need a little motivation to stop procrastinating and sit down and write.
My First NaNoWriMo
I participated in my first challenge in 2011. I learned about through another hubber who had written about it. I was intrigued and check it out. It didn't take me long to decide to join. I signed up just a few days before November 1st. I worked on my profile and checked out the forums. I was shy so I never posted anything. I read up on the challenge in the resources section of the site. I was excited.
November 1st came and I realized I wasn't prepared. I hadn't even thought about what I wanted to write. Sure I had several projects that were saved on my computer already, but what did I want to write? I chose to work on a project that I already had somewhat planned out years ago, but never got around to writing. I should probably mention I was pregnant at the time. I thought that wouldn't get in the way but When you're due date is the final day of the challenge, it kind of does get in the way.
The first week I spent fleshing out my idea instead of writing. Week two I banged out a buncho f words in a frenzy of inspiration. Week three, I began losing interest and my word count per day lessened. By week four, I was about to pop. My due date was just a few days away and I was tired and scattered brained. My interest in my writing had already dissipated and I gave up at only about 7,000 words. Pathetic for me.
Of course my baby coming the following week definitely cheered me up and allowed me to be more focused on this year's challenge.
I have prepared as best I could. I intend to be more focused on my writing (especially now that I'm not pregnant) and I will keep a weekly hub diary here on hubpages. Consider this my first entry.
In this entry I wanted to share a few tips for newbies. Below you'll find some tips on how prepare for National Novel Writing Month.
Helpful Hubs on Writing
The first thing you'll need is an idea. What are you going to write? Do you have anything in mind? Is the idea interesting enough to keep you going the whole month. If not then you need a new idea. Don't have an idea? Then you need to come up with one. Here are a few great ways to generate tons of ideas.
Listening to music is a great way to generate ideas. Most songs have a story, an emotion or a meaning behind them. They're a great source for inspiration. Go get your music player of choice (Ipod, laptop, CD player, etc.). Now pick some music or put your player on shuffle. Sit back and listen. Does anything strike a chord in you? Any sparks of inspiration? What do you see in your mind when you hear the song? A setting? A character? A situation? An emotion? Take it and run with it. Flesh it out by doing some character development, plotting, setting development, research... Novel planning basically.
Our memories are another great source for material. Comb through your memories and make a list of ones that stand out to you using one or two word reminders. Now look over that list. Does any of these or any combination of these form an interesting idea? Again flesh out what you come up with.
Mind mapping is a way of brainstorming. It's simple. Get a blank piece of paper. In the center, write a word, phrase, cncept, setting, etc. and circle it. Now think about that first circle. Write other things that come to mind and write them down, circle them and connect them to the main idea or to each other. See what you can come up with. Is there a string of circles that stand out in your mind? Do they suggest a story? As always flesh the idea out.
A tried and true method for gathering ideas. Think of topic you enjoy or one you'd like to learn about. Then do some research. As you research write down ideas that pop into your head. Do any of these ideas inspire you? Are they interesting enough to keep you going?
Create a Character
I find this a really fun way to get story ideas. Create your main character first. You'll need to do in depth development. There are four sources for characters: yourself, people you know, strangers and imagination. Check out my "Creating Lifelike Characters" hub. (Link provided to the right) for more on Character Development.
There are many other ways to generate ideas, but these are my personal favorites. Writing books are a great source for more methods on generating ideas.
So you have you're idea. You've developed your idea. You may or may not have outlined your plot, depending on whether or not you're a planner or a seat-of-your-pants writer. You've assembled your story's cast and developed them. Now what?
It's time to set goals. You should start setting goals at least a few days before the challenge. Make sure they're realistic and achievable. Disappointment in yourself is the first thing that is sure to kill your inspiration and your will to go on.
Daily or Weekly Word Quota
Set a daily or weekly word count. Be realistic. If you're a busy person, think about how much time you can set aside to write each day to write. Now think about how many words you can write in that time.
If you prefer discipline, a daily word quota may work well for you. NaNoWriMo recommends 1,667 words a day. That will allow you to meet your word count by November 30th. You can of course choose your own word count.
If you need more flexibility (like me), then a weekly quota may be best. You can write as many words a day as you can without pressure. You only have time for 300 words one day, but you may have time for 2,000 words the next. Set a reasonable amount. 20,000 words by the end of the week may be a bit much, but hey if you think you are capable of it, go for it.
Inform Your Loved Ones
Make sure you tell your loved ones. They may not understand why you're so busy all of a sudden. Why aren't you answering your phone? Why can't you come out for drinks? To avoid people thinking you've embraced hermitage, let them know what you're doing. Explain what this means to you. Good friends and family will understand and might want to help. You'll need all the support you can get.
If You're a SAHM/SAHD
You probably have responsibilities. Have a family meeting. Explain to them what NaNoWriMo is and what it means to you. Try to come up with ways that your family can help take some of the load off of you. Can dad do the dishes this month? Can your oldest son clean the bathroom this weekend so you get that extra hour or so of writing time? Would your little ones be interested in having a playdate at a friend's house? Brainstomr some ways to get more time to yourself for writing. Family support is essential. Make them understand.
Finally, Turn off Your Inner Editor
Everyone has one. That annoying little voice inside your mind that tells you, you're no good. You're wasting your time. Turn that voice off and keep it off. Before the challenge starts, take some time to train yourself to shut out the inner editor. Do a few small writing projects (short stoories, articles, etc.) and just practice writing without stopping to edit. Set an alarm, and write till it goes off without stopping. Follow your imagination, not your inner critic. Worry about editing after your first draft is complete.
I wish you the best of luck in your NaNoWriMo endeavor. Feel free to add me as a writing buddy (Skylar Spring). See you on the other side!
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