Tackling NaNoWriMo

October days seem to be flying by and that means that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is right around the corner. I’ve known about NaNoWriMo for a while, but this is the first year that I’ll be diving in full throttle.

For those that don’t know NaNoWriMo is a writing challenge that takes place every November. The goal is to get down 50,000 words (the considered minimum length of a novel) within 30-days. This means that if you have any chance of making it happen you need to crank out at least 1,668 words a day, every day, for 30 days straight.

I think the biggest factor for me in tackling this challenge is giving myself the daily time to hit my word count and the internal grit to keep going every single day. For the first time in my life I think I can build in the time. Now it’s just a question about grit.

Author G. Jefferies over at Fiction is Food took part in his first ever NaNoWriMo last year and offers some thoughts and insights for anyone trying to take it on in 2017. Jefferies lays it on the line with the stakes, but also provides some much needed perspective with what NaNoWriMo is really all about:

Be prepared for the story to die on you. I’m not saying it will, but if it starts to lose appeal, NaNoWriMo is unforgiving . . . Consider a story that flops at 10k. You can drift into a chasm lined with failure, can’t write, lost the challenge, waste of time… Or, you can turn it round. Better to explore an idea and find it doesn’t hold you sooner rather than later.

Being realistic about the difficulties in drafting a novel in month while keeping the challenge fun and positive is a balanced approached that I’ve found very helpful as I’ve made the decision to dive into my first NaNoWriMo.

One of the big pieces of advice that I’m working to take to heart is:

Accept it’s a first draft too. Nothing matters except getting the bones of the story down. You can plan forever, but it’s the words that matter. Remember there is no time to sit and rework material . . . Words matter, thinking about words after the start doesn’t. That moment has gone and it’s time to write.

I’m spending the next few weeks getting my ideas and outlining done so that way on November 1st I can hit the ground running and start getting the words out. My posting here might be a little more sparse, but I do want to make sure I’m posting my current word count whenever I can. My success in NaNoWriMo is going to come less from hitting 50k words by November 30th, and more about making an earnest attempt at taking on the challenge.

Expect more posts about NaNoWriMo over the next couple of weeks with as many tips, tricks, and strategies as I can find. If you’re taking on NaNoWriMo this year, reach out and let me know. We’ll all be trying to get the words out together.

5 thoughts on “Tackling NaNoWriMo

  1. Thanks for the mention Michael and I’m glad you found my post interesting enough to link to. I found the hardest part was not dwelling on sections I knew were not right. I took my lead from something I read in Stephen Kings book On Wrtiting. He talks about separating first draft from end product, emphasising that one is all about grinding out the story. Editing is where the flesh is filled out. In NaNo, there is just no time to overthink. The daily word count is very reachable, but miss a few and the graph on the dashboard soon skews and that count begins to crawl upwards alarmingly.

    50,000 words is also, as you rightly say, the lower novel limit. I aim for 70 to 90,000 so I took the challenge to get into the book and not as a definite must wind it up by 50,000. This allows it to breathe and not get rushed to conclusion. In my humble opinion, forcing it to fit into that word count is a good way to muck it up. Above all else stay clear of the win/lose nonsense too. I tried to emphasise that. Things happen and many people turn that into negative emotions.

    Keep tabs on the Camp Nano months too. The first one next year aims at finishing the November project, be it completing it, editing and so on. The authors there set their own month goals so it’s less stressful.

    Apologies if you are aware of all that, but anyone reading might glean something in this too.

    If you want to buddy up let me know and thanks again for the shout out.


    1. I appreciate you reaching out and I’m glad you saw the shout out. What I liked most about your article was your emphasis on getting out of the win/lose mentality.

      To be honest I have never heard of the Camp Nano thing and I appreciate you pointing me in that direction. Again, thinking about this project beyond the month of November helps take some of the pressure off.

      It’d be great to buddy up this year and thanks again for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That point hit me last year listening to people blogging about how they “won” or “lost.” I was fortunate as my story held its head up. I empathise with how folk must feel getting into it and finding it stalling. Same with life interventions that impact on being able to keep word counts up. I treat it as an exercise in self targeting. “Winning” is a bonus, and if I only get 20k then there’s NaNo Camps to move it on.

        You’re right to see them as helping take pressure off too. I’m really trying to speak out about them now too. I am quite surprised how many writers didn’t know they existed.

        What’s your NaNo handle? Let me know and I’ll find you and hook up!


      2. You can find me on NaNo under the handle blockandtacklewriter. I’m looking forward to giving it my best shot this year and can’t wait to buddy up! You definitely have a lot of great advice that I appreciate hearing.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Just found and added you as a buddy on NaNo. I feel my indecision is beginning to tip towards having a go too. Best start checking the old November life calendar.

        Glad you like the advice too. It’s purely my take on personal experience and listening to other bloggers. Seems only right to pass on what we learn.


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