As you can probably tell, this is a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2016 related post. I have taken part in three of the last four having decided to miss one year as choosing to edit instead of writing 50,000 words for 2014. I considered taking part again this year but I managed to consider it far too much and now I have nothing prepared. I will, however, be doing a mixture of editing and writing throughout November as a substitute.
This year, I wanted to provide some (hopefully) helpful information for those of you attempting to write 50,000 words in one month. That number does sound a lot and it did to me when I first tried the challenge in 2012.
When you break down that number across the whole of November, it gets a lot easier to take in. The figure (rounded up as the exact figure is daft) of words to write for each day is 1,667. If you decide to commit to 2,000 words a day, that allows you 5 free days to do whatever you like with. I recall assigning those days for hangovers myself.
I only found writing 2,000 words to be a daunting task when I had no idea where my story was going. For the first 2,000, I planned what I was roughly going to write so I could at least have an idea (it is the first draft after all so I didn’t worry too much about getting it right first time) beforehand. After the first 2,000 were written, I planned the next 2,000 and so on. The plans I made were usually just a few paragraphs or even less as a rough outline. As I got into writing the story I discovered that when I knew where the story was going each plan and 2,000 words became easier.
On some occasions, I managed to write more than 2,000 because I was in the middle of an important scene. It was either a heated discussion between the quarrelling villains of the piece, or the hero’s in some cases. Or some back story or a battle scene (there were quite a few). All of which I could not stop at just the 2,000 because I found myself either in the middle of a sentence or that I wanted to finish at natural point (usually the end of a scene or a chapter) before finishing for the day.
Making sure to write at least some if not all of the 2,000 words a day was crucial to help me calmly reach the target and to not lose my sanity. Some days I managed just shy of the whole 2,000 but made up for it in the days after that. Other times I didn’t come close. Let me show you what I mean through a small scene involving me and my too laid back attitude to the word court in 2012.
Wednesday. “I don’t feel like writing anything tonight. I’ve been working all day and can’t face the laptop anymore” (This equals one day without writing 2,000 words)
Thursday. “I’ll just play one game of Pro Evolution Soccer on my Xbox. Then I’ll start.” (Another 2,000)
Friday. “My head hurts. Too much beer. Cannot write today” (Another 2,000)
“Okay. It’s Saturday. What’s my word count? Including today I’m 8,000 words behind! How can I write so many in one day? It’s the weekend! I’ve used all of my hangover days! HOW!!!”
On that Saturday, I ended up writing 6,000 words and then adding an extra 500 words to the next few days until I had caught up with my target. I kept to my plan for 2013 and 2015 and avoided the above, which made the challenge easier to handle.
The Pros of completing NaNoWriMo 2012, 2013 and 2015 were that I had three partially finished novels that I could work on to finish in future. I have since completed the 2012 novel but found that the 2013 novel will need to be started again (I now hate that it is written in the first person) and the 2015 novel is going to be a lot bigger than I thought and requires further planning. Without NaNoWriMo, I would not have discovered this about two of my stories.
NaNoWriMo also helped me to find discipline whilst writing. Since 2012, I have been able to commit to word counts per day to finish a story as I am able to use the same planning I used for NaNo on all my stories ever since. It allowed me to get down on paper (laptop) tales that have been spinning in my head for years. It is a great feeling to do so and to finish. When you do finish, I suggest buying a t-shirt or something to commemorate the achievement from the official website (http://nanowrimo.org/). It’s your own trophy and it helps to ensure that the fine people who organised the whole thing can continue to do so for years to come.
The Cons of completing NaNoWriMo? In my case they were:
- My back hurt a little bit more.
- I lost some sleep.
That’s all I can think of. I lay flat on my carpet after each days writing for about 10 minutes and that helped my back. I slept longer on weekend mornings to catch up on sleep.
I hope that this has helped you in your quest to conquer the NaNoWriMo challenge. Good luck and make sure you have some fun in the process.