November is National Novel Writing Month
As most writers know, November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo. An estimated 400,000 aspiring authors will attempt to write 50K words in 30 days, November 1st to 30th. It’s a daunting, challenging task to write a book in a month.
I’ve officially participated in November, April (spring NaNoWriMo), July (Camp NaNoWriMo), and unofficially on my own timeline. I always make the 50K count because a) I like a challenge, and b) nobody tells me what I can’t do.
Write a Book in a Month Step 1
Prepare. I hear the pantsers among you groaning, but it won’t do you any good. This is one time you’l have to (dum-dum-dum)outline. It doesn’t have to be a PhD dissertation. Just write down the bare bones of the story. Here’s an exercise I like to use to get started:
Once upon a time there was a ______________
Every day ______________
One day, _____________
Because of that ______________
Because of that _____________
(use as many times as you wish)
Until finally ________
Ever since that day ____________
(Thanks to Pixar for the story prompt)
Or use the Snowflake Method.
Expand your original ideas. Write 5-7 things that MUST happen. Write the ending first and work your way back to the beginning. Any number of methods will work. I’ve written 21 different ways to plot your novel in this book.
Once you have a general idea of what your story is about, it’s time to move on.
Write a Book in a Month Step 2
Kill your internal editor. Shoot her with a Magnum 357. Stab her. Drop her off a cliff. Barring that, send her on a 30 day, all expense paid vacation. Someplace nice to look at (I recommend Hawaii) to distract her, but make it oh so unpleasant. Throw a cloud of gnats at her. Tie up traffic for hours. Make the food horrid. You want her so distracted she won’t have a thought to spare about you or your book. Seriously. You do not want to waste your precious thirty days searching for the perfect word. That’s what editing is for (not in November, right?)
You should LOVE your crappy first draft. You should worship it. You should seek to create it as soon as you possibly can.—Daphne Gray-GrantClick To Tweet
Write a Book in a Month Step 3
Expanding on the kill-your-editor theme, use a placeholder whenever you get stuck. Instead of searching for that perfect word (a big no-no), use TK. Or an *. Use a #. Or <insert dragon fight here>. Anything that can be found with your computer’s search function.
Write the first draft as if you’re out for a spontaneous night with a devastatingly handsome man you met abroad. Run wild, take chances, and don’t even consider the possibility that you’re making the wrong choice. Just go for it. -Christine J. SchmidtClick To Tweet
Write a Book in a Month Step 4
Write every day. I know, I know, it’s difficult with a full-time job and a family. Not to mention Thanksgiving falling in the third week of NaNo. But you have to gut it out. 50K in 30 days averages 1,667 words per day. It’s easy to fall behind, lose all hope of finishing, abandon your project and crawl into a hole, convinced you’ll never reach your dream of writing a book.
Don’t despair. You can do this.
Know when to write. What’s your optimum time? 6 a.m.? Midnight? Recognize your prime time and schedule your writing in that period.
Use the Pomodoro Technique. Write for 25 minutes, no distractions, take a 5 minute break. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Give yourself permission to write bad. Who but you will see your first draft?Tell a story! Don’t try to impress your reader with style or vocabulary or neatly turned phrases. Tell the story first. —Anne McCaffrey Click To Tweet
Write a Book in a Month Step 5
Have an accountability buddy. One of the last things I do before I shut down my computer at night is to email my accountability buddy with my daily word count. It might make her jealous, it might prompt her to get her butt in the chair, but it gives me an incentive to continue writing. I don’t want to disappoint her, and I don’t want to disappoint myself.
This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It's that easy, and that hard. —Neil Gaiman Click To Tweet
You can write a book in a month. It takes a little planning and a lot of discipline. You’ve got this.
All the best luck to you and many blessings.