Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo 2020

This is my last post before the crazy of National Novel Writing Month – aka NaNoWriMo – hits us. I decided that, as everyone else posts their tips for the upcoming month of writing (translation: stock up on chocolate) I would chime in with some quick and dirty tips on things writers should remember going into November.

First off: What is NaNoWriMo?

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is a month of pell-mell writing for writers around the world. Every November, writers of all genres, ages, and locations band together across the world to try and write 50,000 words.

Why 50,000, you ask?

Well, there are different lengths of stories.

A flash fiction has 6-1,000 words. It’s usually just something you write quickly.

Short stories are 1,000-7,500 words. They’re pretty much exactly what they sound like: short stories.

Novelettes are 7,500-17,000 words long. I think this is a pretty good range for newer writers.

Novellas are 20,000-40,000 words. I’ve never personally written one, but there are lots of indie authors around the blogisphere who have written some novellas. They’re much faster paced than a novel, since they use less words.

Novels are 50,000-80,000 words long. This is about the length of most middle grade novels. It’s a pretty good sized story.

And an epic is 100,000+ words. Epics are usually sci-fi or fantasy stories that have a lot of lore to explain in them, like Lord of the Rings.

Source | Ah, yes, so much lore.

National Novel Writing Month is called that for a reason: nationally, writers all around the world try to write a novel in a single month.

I have actually completed NaNoWriMo the last 2 years; every week, I would do a recap of how my week went, sharing snippets from each day of writing. That way, instead of having to write blog posts, I could focus my energy – and limited free time – towards writing my story. (I’m going to be doing that again this year, by the way!) If you want to check out those posts from the last few years, here they are:

2019:

2020:

Okay, now that we’ve got that explanation out of the way: let’s get into the real meat of this post!

Things to Remember during NaNoWriMo

After my first NaNoWriMo ever in 2019, I went and wrote a super long series on what I’d learned from the experience. Because I was posting every 2 weeks, the 7-post long series lasted me until halfway through March.

I’m going to touch on all of those subjects – as well as some I would now recommend that I didn’t post about at the time – and link to longer posts on the subject πŸ˜ƒ

Fun fact: I planned out my posts for the first semester of school during the summer, and, for the past few months, I’ve actually already been helping you prepare for NaNoWriMo! You’ll see me mentioning some of my more recent posts below. πŸ˜‰ Hope all this helps!


SAVE

During the last NaNoWriMo, I happened to have my computer freeze up on me, and I had to restart it. All my work for the day was gone. I had to rewrite it all.

Source

Make sure to constantly save your work! It’ll save your sanity.  πŸ˜›

Find A Good Time to Write

Try to pick a time to write at each day, and, if nothing else, get some writing in at that time. This is not just for making sure you get that elusive 50k in; it’s building good habits to continue on after NaNoWriMo ends. It takes 21-41 days to build a good habit, so by the end of November, you’ll be well on your way to having that habit down! If you write consistently at the same time each day, people around you – like family members – who could potentially interrupt you while you’re writing and ruin your flow will get used to seeing you writing at that time of day. It’ll become your time. Because of that, you’ll be able to get a solid amount of writing in. And, if your well-meaning-but-extremely-unhelpful family members just can’t seem to remember to not bother you while you’re working, literally try putting up a sign that says “DO NOT DISTURB”. Seriously. Or, tell them that they can’t bother you when they see a certain thing out by you – like an easily-recognizable notebook – because that means you’re working on your writing. Don’t worry about offending them; you’re family! That means they probably love and support you. And, if they don’t… they can deal with it. (I’m just kidding πŸ˜‚)

Source

Go Wild

When it comes to writing, just let your creative juices flow! This is not to say that you shouldn’t outline or know where you’re going; but if you happen to have a random scene idea or want to throw in a million and one italicized words, then go for it!

Source

If it doesn’t work out, you can edit it out later.

And, speaking of editing: don’t edit while you write! Going from writing to editing switches sides of your brain. You go from creative-mode to analytical-mode, and trying to get back into the flow of writing after switching can take a bit. By constantly switching, you won’t be able to focus. Just get the words out. Every single word you write counts toward that 50k, even if it sucks.

If you really, really can’t remember a word and want to stop and go into that analytical-mode to try and find it, don’t. By going into analytical mode, you’re switching the sides of your brain, and that’ll pull you out of a good writing flow. Instead, just write in a word in all caps and a quick description to yourself of what the word might be. Later on, you’ll be able to find all those spots and put in the right word. Personally, I use the word ELEPHANT, because when I type it into the search bar of my Word Document, all those words will be highlighted. I hardly ever use the word in my story, so it’s easy to locate every single spot. πŸ˜ƒ

Sprint

Something I find I rely on every NaNoWriMo is writing in sprints. Working with a clock ticking down on you is very encouraging, because, when you want to get distracted, you just remind yourself that you only have to write for “this many more minutes” and you push through. Also, if you’re a competitive person, it’s fun to see if you can beat other people, if you have a writing buddy. πŸ˜›

Source

Grab A Writing Buddy!

And speaking of writing buddies, they are the best thing invented, ever. Having someone to help keep you on track and encourage you (and possibly even join you) in this madness will be extremely helpful.

Source

Remember: This is Just a First Draft!

The first draft is going to messy. It’s going to be horrible. But it’s also going to do it’s job perfectly, because it’s one and only requirement is to simply exist. As long as you’re getting words onto paper, you’re making progress. You can always edit these words later.

Source | Live footage of writers making their first draft

Get into the Mood

The easiest way to pump out words without noticing how many are even coming out is if you’re in the mood. You know, when you’re just totally jamming to your writing, and it’s flowing so easily out of you? Yeah. That’s when words pour out effortlessly – and spur you more easily onward to that 50k. To try and get into the mood of your story, look at things that remind you of it and inspire you. That alone can get your creative juices flowing. Also, try listening to some music as you write. Bonus points if you’ve curated a playlist specifically for your book!

Source

Bonus Tips: Make it Enjoyable!

I know that about halfway through last year’s NaNoWriMo, I was pretty miserable. πŸ˜‚ I was 100% done with trying to get over 1k words in every day (and, if you go back to look at my posts during it, you’ll notice that by the end, I was literally 10k behind πŸ˜…). That is pretty much the last way you want to feel with NaNoWriMo. Believe me, if you do, you’ll not want to write. And that won’t help you get to your goal of 50k. So, make sure that you do things that will allow you to better enjoy writing your novel during NaNoWriMo!

Writers joke a lot about eating chocolate during NaNoWriMo (even I did at the start of this post πŸ˜‚) but seriously, take that as a tip. Not to constantly eat chocolate; but, you know, to have snacks! I personally end up drinking a lot of coffee and tea during NaNoWriMo every year, depending on the time of day. I’m expecting that, this year, I’ll end up writing early in the morning and late at night if I want to even hope to make my goal, thanks to being busy all day with school. Having a nice snack or beverage by your side can make the whole process a heck of a lot more enjoyable. (seriously, I’m drinking coffee even as I write this post)

Source

Another thing you can do is take breaks from your writing. Though that may sound counter-productive, if you get up and do something else for 5 minutes, that can help keep you from burning out, instead of doing writing for hours at a time without stop. I know that, personally speaking, I can do quite a bit of writing at once, but after I have a big session, it’s more difficult for me to write again.

Don’t forget to save this post for later!

What you’re doing is important to you. I know that, sometimes, it can feel pretty overwhelming, so I hope these quick tips helped you. Stories can change the world, and in November, writers take over the world. Join me on this crazy adventure. 😊

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year?

Have you ever done it before?

Were any of these tips helpful to you?

-Julia

Photo by Kumpan Electricon Unsplash

16 thoughts on “Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo 2020

  1. Great post, Julia!!! I found your blog through Mary@WildWritingDreams. It looks AMAZING!!!!! Yeah, I’ve never done NaNo before and I’m not planning on it this year. But the reminder that I’m just writing a first draft is very helpful to me. Really, I think I need people to remind me of that a lot. And just YES to all of those GIFs, especially the Lord of the Rings one. I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!

    And Good luck for all you writers who are participating in NaNo!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that blog! πŸ˜ƒ (Mainly because Mary’s actually my sister, bUT THAT’S BESIDES THE POINT. 🀣) Thank you! I’m glad you like it! πŸ˜ƒ Most of my friends who are writers aren’t doing NaNoWriMo either πŸ˜› Makes it a little weird to talk them about writing when they’re listing off good reasons for why they’re NOT doing it πŸ˜‚ I’m glad that it was πŸ˜ƒ I’ve already reminded myself of that a couple of times already for my current WIP πŸ˜… It’s so essential to think about, yet I don’t seem to enough. 🧐 Yay! I kind of went and started putting a bunch in, and the next thing I knew, Edna Mode had made more than one appearance but I couldn’t bring myself to remove either. πŸ˜‚ Yesssss I loved that one! πŸ˜„ (In all truth, I found it in a different draft where I was talking about the length of novels, and after I saw my little comment under it, I HAD to include it πŸ˜†)

      Thank you! Best of luck to you with your writing as well πŸ˜ƒ

      Like

      1. Haha, yeah, I knew Mary and you were sisters, I just thought it’d be kind of weird to say I found it on you sister’s blog. I’m the opposite, because a lot of writers I talk to are doing NaNo. And you can NEVER go wrong with GIFs. I ALWAYS LOVE them. ❀ I'm always telling my own sisters I don't know how you and Mary do it. They always seem to fit them in the perfect spots.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I guess that makes sense πŸ˜† Really? That’s so cool! πŸ˜ƒ Yaaaaaaaaaas I love GIFs!!! πŸ˜„ They’re way too much fun to add in haha. Awww, really? πŸ˜„ I’m glad you think that! (Also, part of my secret is that I save GIFs that I like when I find them, and when I need one, I sometimes have the *perfect* one stowed away already πŸ˜‰) (The other part is that sometimes I instantly think of a part of a Disney movie that would go perfectly there and I then proceed to hunt it down across the internet πŸ˜† That one’s harder, because they aren’t always made. *pouts*)

          Like

    1. Yeah, NaNoWriMo can be pretty tricky to do sometimes. I sometimes wish I could just hit a pause button on life until I’m done writing the book so I’ll be able to get everything done πŸ˜‚ Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, same! I’m looking forward to tackling a new book during it this year. Trying to hit 50,000 words always seems to end with something dramatic, when it comes to me. πŸ˜› Hopefully not this year! Third time’s the charm, right? πŸ˜† Make sure to keep me updated on how you do with that! I love hearing about other people and their writing πŸ˜ƒ I’ll be posting every week instead of biweekly (something I only do during NaNoWriMo) with updates on my own writing, so hopefully my own struggles will be kind of amusing. 😝

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol. That’s not a bad thing and it will be an entertaining month for all of us. I will keep you posted! I’m not writing but editing next month after a great internal debate, but it’ll be nice working with a deadline. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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