I know that NaNoWriMo (NaNo for short) is kicking off in just five days, but better late than never when it comes to planning, right?
And this time, for once, I’m not joking around. Planning is crucial if you’re jumping into this annual November writing challenge.
So for those new to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo/NaNo), let me explain what it is (or just borrow from their website as they put it so well):
“NaNoWriMo is a non-profit that believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.”
Which in practical terms means this:
Every November, writers from across the globe hunker down to write a novel, with the goal being 50,000 words completed by the end of the month. This roughly translates to 1667 words per day, and while these writers are putting in the work, they’re also able to network and gain support online and in-person.
I’m a fan of NaNo and generally participate because I’m motivated by a challenge. But I have never completed 50,000 words, and I’m fine with that because I have achieved the goals I’ve set for me.
Well, most of the time. And that’s why planning is so important.
Before starting NaNo, I recommend taking the time to think about your writing goals. Because here’s the beauty of this challenge: it can be about writing whatever you want but it works best if you know what you want.
Do you have a completed novel that needs serious revision? NaNo can help you do that.
Do you have 25,000 words of a novel you’ve been working on all year and want to push yourself to get to 35,000 words by the end of November? NaNo to the rescue!
Do you want to write 10 poems, or three articles, or five essays in 30 days? Yep, NaNo can help you with those goals, too.
And of course, it can help you write 50,000 words of that novel that’s been stuck in your head forever. It’s a writing challenge, and you get to choose what and how you need help.
Now, because it is all about novels, you’ll find a ton of information specific to novel-writing but that doesn’t mean it won’t translate in some way to what you’re writing. Check out all the writer’s resources, starting with NaNo Prep (and yes, it’s modeled on starting in September but you only have five days. Read fast!). Not only does NaNo Prep give you a calendar, outlines, exercises, and other tools, but it also gives you more in-depth information about how you can get involved and get that accountability that you might crave.
But if that’s too overwhelming, check out a couple of Pep Talks, guaranteed to get your writer motor running.
Finally, I know that some writers like to just sign up for NaNo and write by the seat of their pants. “Words on the page!” is their motto. And though I heartily agree that one must have words on the page, I’m not keen on wasting my time. If I’m going to challenge myself to write every day or thereabouts in November, I want the finished product to be a decent effort.
But that’s me. I think about what I want to accomplish during NaNo and plan how I can get ‘er done. Sometimes I succeed mightily; sometimes, not so much. And like I said, I’m fine with that. As for you, dear writer, you do you. And good luck!
~Cathy C. Hall (who coincidentally has about 25,000 words in her latest WIP and would REALLY like to get to 35,000 by the end of November)