Quick disclaimer before anything else, not all of this works for every single person. I'm just really giving out couple of pointers that I've found out to be helpful for at least myself throughout the month of November to fight through the chore of writing a 50K word novel in 30 days. I'm also not a pro at this, I've only been doing this yearly since 08 so thats about that. I'm just doing things I barely know how anything works beyond that.
Right. So I thought about this thing since I know I have at least a couple of friends wanting to tackle the NaNoWriMo this year in the upcoming November, and yes I know this is a bit early for that but hey the earlier you start the preparation the better things hopefully end up, you know?
Which like, immediately, takes us to a very important topic.
What do you need for NaNoWriMo, you ask? The basic set is something to write on, an idea, and dedication to write 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November. Thats you VERY basic kit of things you are going to need. It doesnt matter at all whether you write by hand or on computer or on your phone or whatever, the most important thing is that you WRITE those words somewhere. Also despite the fact that it is called the National NOVEL
Writing Month, making a novel is not necessary. Many people do it in form of collection of short stories or poems etc. instead. But, the basic concept caters towards the novel, really. But as long as you get those words done, you are good to go.
Now, I'm just gonna talk about the novels and such here cause thats the basic idea and thats what I'm used to so hey yeah thats a thing. Whatever. Anyways, it all starts with an idea.
You have an idea you want to novel about? The start jolting things done on notebooks or some kind of writing program or any piece of paper you find - in the planning process, there are no bad ideas. None whatsoever. Just write everything down somewhere as they come, just so you dont forget about them. Even if it feels like it doesnt fit to the possible future project, who knows you might find it some use after all, or maybe even later on fit it into some future project. There. Are. NO. Bad. Ideas. Every idea is worth of jolting down. Every single one.
And if you dont have ideas, there are probably millions of prompt sites everywhere in the internet. Also Tumblr is a really good friend for finding writing prompts. I'm gonna have a list of some resources that I use at the bottom in case you need any.
And if you are at a point where you already have an idea you want to use, start jolting down specific ideas for it. Again, no ideas are bad ideas, just jolt everything down that comes to mind. And if you cant think of anything, again I'm going to throw prompts at you. Go search something nice, tap down some really neat ideas, develop them further for story plot points or maybe sideplots. Prompts are really helpful man.
When you reach the point with your idea that you know what happens in your storyline, even just a little bit stuff like the beginning and the end, possibly some key points in the middle of the story (this is entirely optional at this point tho but if you do, thats super neat), start building up the "red line" so to speak for your story, the main path it follows. You can use any writing program for this, tho I personally highly recommend Scrivener for this process. The program is on 30 day free trial, and before you come yelling at me that thats not gonna last you through NaNo, trust me, it will. Its 30 days, and each 24 hours you have it open counts as a day. I got my copy of the trial version last October and I still have 17 days of it left. Trust me, it'll last on you unless you have it open 24/7, which I highly doubt. I used it for NaNo last year, kept it open all the time while I was writing, and it still lasted. Trust me, you'll love it. It might be a bit hard to figure out at first, but if you are patient enough to play around with it and watch the tutorial of it, you can eventually make up chapter notes and later on without much of a hassle, edit them and reorganize them as you wish, without having to edit the whole story or the entire document. Plus, if you use it for actual writing, you dont have to go in order of chapters without messing you up, since each chapter can easily be divided as their own separate section. You'll see what I mean if you decide to check it out. But, its optional, and whatever program you wanna use is entirely fine, whatever you feel comfortable with working our outline with should be neat enough for you~
So yes. Make an outline. It doesnt need to be perfect, as long as you have SOMETHING down that'll help starting and carrying on the process. Beginning and the ending should be the most important, plus some keyplot points in the middle so you have something to work towards at all times. But those and the stuff in between can be added at any point, so if you dont have them immediately, or even at the beginning of November, dont worry about it. The story will open itself for you even without all the details and information when you start working on it.
Now, I understand some people write better without an outline or anything, and with just an idea in their head. And thats entirely fine, if thats your style, you go people and you roll with that attitude cause that is badass. Personally, I've found out that since I started doing outlines for my stuff instead of just knowing in my head what was happening, and in general started to put more thought into the happenings in the story and what leads to them, I have managed to get a lot farther with both the stories I'm doing, and the word counts in NaNo. So, I'd personally recommend doing it, but if you are not up to it, thats your deal. You go do you, person, I know you'll still be awesome at it.
WORD GOALS, REWARDS
This might sound like its such an obvious thing - the goal is obviously to write 50,000 words in 30 days, right? Well, yes, that is the ultimate goal that you should always always ALWAYS drive for.
However. Its also very important to have tinier goals for yourself along the way. Start with little ones, for the first day, at least get over the par (1,666 words). The next day the par again or maybe more. 5K is a line where its a worth of celebration already. Every five or ten thousand words is celebration worthy. Halfway through is a huge thing. And especially that 50K when you eventually reach it.
Shortly put, have little goals on the way that you can celebrate somehow when you cross them. As well as have daily goals, with both words and progress. Finish this chapter today? Do it, and reward yourself with something. Write 2,000 words today? Do that, and reward yourself.
For every accomplishment, no matter how big or small(!), remember to celebrate and reward yourself. Its unbelievably motivating thing to do. Even if you dont reach the daily goal, if you write something, its worth of celebrating. It'll help you carry on with things. Trust me, it works. Or even if you dont write anything, celebrate having a free day to recharge your batteries. NEVER beat yourself up over failing to reach something, theres ALWAYS time to catch up and more days time to write. Theres ALWAYS something to reward yourself about, to keep that motivation going.
Also making personalized rewards is really nice. You want to buy something nice? Make it clear to yourself that when you get to a certain point, you'll get that. You want to have a break? Push yourself to the limit and write up to that one set point and then take a really rewarding break. Reward yourself with little things with tinier goals, and bigger rewards for like huge word counts a day, halfway point, every ten thousand after that (or all the time, whichever works!) and so forth. Always always always reward yourself with your accomplishments since nothing is too big or small when it comes to NaNoWriMo.
Oh, yeah, and NEVER think the goal you set for yourself is unrealistic. This thing is actually doable and the 50K (or more!! I know someone who has written over million words in the 30 days so yeah, ITS REAL) is achievable! I know it sounds like a lot and looks like a really terrifying number but yep, its a thing. And you can do it. Little steps at the time, dont think of the 50K, especially since in most cases you'll get over it anyways, but just little by little. You'll get there. Remember the tinier goals on the way and focus on those one at a time. I'm sure you'll make it <3
Okay, but THIS is really an important part of this whole deal. Trust me, finding like minded people to cry over about this and talk about plans and musing and whatnot is REALLY important and it works. It fucking works dude. Just trust me on this.
Find yourself like minded people. Well, it really doesnt even have to be like minded people, as long as they are the kind of people who you can talk about your writing and your characters and your plans and they'll listen and try to help with possible struggles etc. Find people you can talk to about this thing cause its important to be able to share the struggles and happy feels about everything with someone.
For one that I recommended that is right down this alley, the NaNoWriMo forums. You can set your region in your profile settings which will then again show you to the forums around that are set for your region - I'm not exactly sure how it works out for people in bigger countries, especially in the US, but for my tiny Finland we just have one region that covers the entire country and, like, yeah. Filled with conversation about your stories and characters, where you can ask for help and advice and opinions and/or just chat away for stress relieve etc. Trust me, it really works. You can find like minded people over there, as well as someone who is bound to be interested in what you are writing and willing to help you. And its not just limited to your region either, there are bunch of forums around where you can waltz around and ask for help or, my personal favorites, the adoption threads - where people are offering out ideas and characters and plots and dialogue lines to use etc. that you can take and use in your own text, either like they are or tweak them for your purposes. Absolutely amazing for inspiration people, I tell you.
Or if nothing else works, I'm always here! Might not be as active during November cause I am insane and have crazy plans for my word count, but I'll be damned if someone needs me I'm always up for things. ALWAYS.
Alright this is kinda just here for fun and lames, but I have found all these things included to be really helpful with the process, so!
Basically this is just a list of more materialistic things that you can have around to help the progress ~
depending on if you work better with or without music, have the noise of your choice going on
. I find it really helpful personally if I put on headphones of the biggest size I can find and blast music as loud as I can so I cant hear myself type anymore, and just drown in the moment with the blasting music and the scene I'm working on. Doesnt work for everyone, but I suggest trying it out. Or if silence is your friend, make sure you have a calm enough environment with limited amounts of distractions some kind of story randomizer
. I feel like this needs a bit more explaining. Occasionally you might get stuck with your story, not knowing where to go next or what happens. Here where the randomizers come in. The three things I've heard to be really popular so far include story dices, magical 8 ball, and tarot cards. Basically have one of the three at hand, and roll a dice to decide the next action, magical 8 ball to determine yes or now in a situation, or pick a card to imply what might happen next something to drink
. I personally prefer tea or something with a lot of sugar, cause high up in sugar or caffeine is the best way to get energy and just write. If you drink alcohol, I've heard being slightly tipsy really helps too, tho I have no personal experience on that behalf so its hard to say something to snack on
. Basically the same as the previous one. Plus it just makes it easier to have things at hand (and reward yourself with them!!) than getting up every now and then, stop the process and get something to eat. Just make sure you focus more on the writing progress than eating tho
I'm probably going to add more to this later on, but those are the main essentials.
Just stuff that doesnt fit into any other major category.
ALWAYS reserve time for writing
Personally I'd prefer writing the needed 1,666 words on a daily basis instead of purposely skipping days to write +3000 words the next day to catch up on daily count
Make sure your work environment is the kind that works for you. Make sure to clean before November starts so you dont have to stress that, have a nice place where you can work, a personal space and enough room for you and your survival items and everything else
You know what people say about writing only about topics that you know about? Thats not true. Cross your own lines, but make sure to make enough research BEFOREHAND to be prepared for writing such things. Nothing is ever off your limits just because you dont know about it. Take the preparation time to learn about things that you are interested in writing about
Write as much as you can during the first couple of days/the first week. Second week is always the one where it starts to get to you, where your speed starts to fade. Thats where you need those extra words you still had the spirit to put together during the first week. Trust me, it happens, but DO NOT let it discourage you! You can do it <3
if for nothing else come to me and i'll throw things at you that motivated me the most during my week two moments and it'll be better again i swear
DO NOT EDIT THE STORY DURING NOVEMBER. No, do not edit ANYTHING. Theres a spelling error? Goddammit do not touch it unless you absolutely have to, just leave it in. You dont figure out a name for this character yet? Just put some kind of mark there ([insert name] works really well for example) and just keep repeating it until you figure out a name for them, and then later just easily find and replace them in the document. Dont know how this scene goes? Fuck it, jump to another one. As long as you dont stop, and try to fix things or think that this wont do cause reason x or whatever, you are good to go. Do not think. WRITE. Thats all what November is about, the editing and dying over how bad your text is comes during December. November is for writing. So use it for just that. Writing
Personal stuff comes first, writing second. If you had hard time or anything that'll get into the way of writing, dont take it the hard way. You deal with yourself first, make sure you are fine and healthy and then decide on this crazy challenge. Dont feel bad for dropping out if that happens - be fucking proud with how far you got and that you even in the first place tried to do this. That is all that matters and no matter what, I'm proud of you if no one else isnt <3
Its also entirely alright if you want to change your plans and change a story like halfway through. Remember that you can still keep on adding to the word count of the previous story, you dont have to erase all the progress and all the words you have so far just because you are changing the story in the middle of the month! Or even before! Even if you start with one story and change it into another two days into the month, you still count the words from the first story. ALL the words you write in November for any story counts towards the 50K total word count
AND LASTLY AND ALSO FIRST AND FOREMOST THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. Alright? Dont take stress over any of it. Dont reach the goal? It was for fun and games anyways. Didnt make the daily goal? Always more days to catch up and hey its still for fun and games. I know it gets stressful with all the management and stuff but like. Think the light at the end of the tunnel. The feeling of achievement no matter how far you get. You did it. You wrote a 50,000 word novel. Or if not, you wrote X word novel. You wrote something that could be called a NOVEL. Think about it. you put effort on that stuff and you did it. Entirely on your own. With your own time. With your own hands. Volunteerly. My god you are already a winner in my eyes if you are considering joining in on this madness, trust me
That should be all for now? I'm gonna have some links down below for stuff and things mentioned everywhere above, and if you have recs for links (for like really good prompt sites and such) or questions or more to add to this or whatever, drop them down in the comments~NaNoWriMo site
Adoption society forums (NaNoWriMo)
One sentence prompts
Story idea generators
Story idea generators 2ScrivenerMagic 8 ball
(gives you an option to pull just one card with an explanation, the best i could find but google is your friend if you want more)