Become a Novelist This November
If you’re an aspiring author with a passion for literature, then National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is just the challenge you need. With so much pressure to meet word count and page length requirements, it can be difficult to find the time and energy to write a book without a little help and encouragement. And NaNoWriMo is the perfect chance to start that book and become a novelist—just as you’ve always dreamed But you need a plan and some time to make sure you get your word count in.
First Steps To Become a Novelist
The first step towards preparing for NaNoWriMo is finding the time to write during the month. You may have to get a little creative with your time management so you don’t fall behind on work, school, or any of the other extra activities that would take you away from writing.
You can “steal time” by getting up an hour earlier or staying up an hour later. Or writing during your lunch hour. I’d recommend, though, taking an hour that you’d normally watch a television show and using that for your writing time to start off with to ease into your new writing schedule.
When your job necessitates extended computer hours, designate a daily time to write away from the computer. This will help you avoid fatigue or injury associated with long periods of staring at a screen. You can write in a notebook in a coffee shop or dictate into an app on your smartphone while doing your daily commute or while taking a walk.
Your Writing Schedule
Once you’ve set aside time to write, you’ll need to decide on a writing schedule that will get you to your daily goal of 1,667 words. Blocking out this time in a planner is a great way to hold yourself accountable for meeting your word count goals. Start off with an hour and keep track of how many words you write during that time.
NaNoWriMo is not the time to edit as you go along. The goal in finishing the 50,000-word novel is to have a fast first draft that you can work with in December and January. So set a timer and write until that timer goes off. Did you do 1,000 words? Then you can plan for fifty, one hour or one hundred, half-hour sessions in the month of November.
Adjust your schedule accordingly, based on your word count. Some days you will write faster than others, but since this is a timed sprint for the month of November, plan for a few extra sessions to get the words in. Set a realistic yet challenging goal that motivates you to work hard without being impossible.
Find Your Pace
NaNoWriMo is different from every other month because you have a very tight deadline. Because of this, you want to get in the habit of writing every day so that you don’t play “catch up” at the end of the month. If one hour is too long for you to write at first, try just thirty minutes and build up to longer sessions gradually. You want to start building a writing habit of consistent, if not daily words.
Finding a comfortable place to write can make a huge difference in your writing experience. Being well-fed, hydrated, warm, and cozy will help you avoid distractions, stay focused, and meet your word count goals. If you work from home, find a different place to write than your home office for a change of pace. You could write at the kitchen table, on the couch with noise-cancelling headphones on, or even in your car if the weather permits. If you write in bed, use a laptop pillow, or stand to reduce neck strain.
Consider turning off your internet on your phone or computer during your designated writing time. It’s easy to fall into the trap of browsing social media, watching videos, or reading articles while trying to type out your novel. These types of activities are not only unproductive for your novel, but they also create unwanted distractions.
Tell the World!
Make sure you tell everyone that you are writing a novel for the month of November. Not only will this keep you motivated to continue on so that when people ask you how’s it going you can answer honestly, but it also sets up the expectation that there are times during this month when you’ll be unavailable. Invest in a “Do Not Disturb” sign and tell your kids that they need to leave you alone during your writing hours. This is easier said than done, of course, but, in extreme situations, consider hiring a babysitter or writing during a play date or while they’re busy watching a show or playing video games. If it’s within your food budget, you could also spring for a couple of pizza or take-out nights and use that time you would have spent on dinner, writing.
Organizing your writing tools will also help you start writing faster. If you like writing on paper, then make sure that you have a new notebook and plenty of your favorite pens. If you prefer writing on a laptop, make sure it’s charged and that you have a power cord handy. Save often to the cloud or to a thumb drive in case there’s a power outage or a computer issue.
Forward Progress—No Matter What
While the goal is to reach 50,000 words in November, don’t be discouraged if you hit 50,000 words and your book isn’t complete. Likewise, don’t panic if you finished your book at 30,000 words. On December 1st, you’ll have more words and pages completed than you would have if you hadn’t taken part in NaNoWriMo. That’s a win and you should count it as such.
You don’t have to wait until November to write 50,000 words in a month either. Use NaNoWriMo as a guideline to begin working towards your word count goals at any time of the year. The only thing that you’ll need is the tenacity and determination to write. By being a part of NaNoWriMo, whether you’re doing it solo, with an online group, an in-person group, or a combination, you’ll be well-prepared to become a novelist and face the challenges of writing a novel
USA Today bestselling author, Jamie K. Schmidt, writes erotic contemporary love stories and paranormal romances. Her steamy, romantic comedy, Life’s a Beach, reached #65 on USA Today, #2 on Barnes & Noble and #9 on Amazon and iBooks. Her Club Inferno series from Random House’s Loveswept line has hit both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble top one hundred lists. The first book in the series, Heat, put her on the USA Today bestseller list for the first time, and is a #1 Amazon bestseller. Her book Stud is a 2018 Romance Writers of America Rita® Finalist in Erotica. Her dragon paranormal romance series has been called “fun and quirky” and “endearing.” Partnered with New York Times bestselling author and actress, Jenna Jameson, Jamie’s hardcover debut, SPICE, continues Jenna’s FATE trilogy.
Create a checklist of these 10 tips and review it before you submit your writing. Your submission will be stronger and, more likely successful, as a result.