On Writing · The Foundry

That crazy month of NaNoWriMo

It is now 03 October 2016, a certain type of person is becoming active from a year long slumber. That person is the NaNoWrimoer, OK maybe that isn’t a proper name but you know who you are.

Yes November is National Novel Writing Month, it is a month of writing, trying to get 50,000 words completed from 01 November to midnight 30 November. It is a tradition that first started in 1999, with 21 participants but in the intervening years has grown considerably in number.

I have known about NaNo since 2005 while in college, but didn’t start my first NaNo until 2014. I spent a good 9 years plotting out stories in my head, but never really committing to the art of writing.

In the early part of 2014 I met my girlfriend, and described to her my story. Her inspiration allowed me to start NaNo that year, and ultimately win. Since then I completed NaNo in 2015 and have written 2 novels, 2 partial novels, 2 novella’s and 2 short children stories.

NaNo is a scary monster, 50,000 words in one month is a grueling, hard and will sometimes feel impossible. However for those of you that are thinking of trying it but aren’t to sure. Know that it is doable. It can be easy or hard, but it can be done.

Breaking down 50,000 words you get 1667 each day for the month of November. Again that may seem like a lot but from now till Nano you can make baby steps, do a 100 word a day, then once you have hit that a few days in a row try to raise to 500 and then continue that. Until hopefully you get to the first of November and you have consistently hit the 1667 words.

You don’t need to see it as doing 1667 in one day, break it down further. Maybe by the end of the morning your aim is to reach 500 words, then by 6pm your aim is another 500 words and then you got up until you go to sleep to do the remainder.

NaNo therefore doesn’t have to be a dreadful experience, it can be rewarding. The whole goal of it is to get you to Write, if you even wrote one more word then the previous month then it is a win – or if you just wrote one word for the entirety of November you still win. The whole point is to just Write. 

I work a full time job in London, UK. However I have managed to complete NaNo twice, hoping for a hat trick this year. My schedule is usually on an hour long train ride to do anywhere between 50-250 words. I have an hour lunch so I try to hit 250-750 in that time, while also packing lunch in my stomach. After work I have the whole evening to usually do 1000 words. Again I have a hour journey home so that is another 50-250 words, so by the time I get home I usually only have to do 500.

Join your local writing group, throughout NaNo other like minded people come out of the woodwork. They start meet-ups in coffee shops, bars, pubs and all other types of places. Join these groups, being together with other writers can get the creative juices flowing much easier, plus you will be able to socialise. Writing can be lonely, therefore it is sometimes good to interact in the month of November.

Sometimes you can’t write, due to writers block or having no time. That’s why it is good to use things to get you to write when you do, or force you to write when you have writers block. Again the whole point of November is to write, no matter if your writing is crap. Just Write.

Some things I have found that work for me are Virtual write-in, these can happen on YouTube with various people. If you cannot go to a meet-up then this may be the next best solution. Meet-up are great for meeting like minded people, they can help you with a story and because you are around other people doing the same thing it can help energise you. One last thing that works for me are writing apps on the internet that force you to write, such as ones that start making loud noises when you stop for a large period of time, and for the more hardcore people there are settings that delete what you have wrote previously. There are also more tame versions such as websites that will provide you cute/awesome pictures once you hit a milestone, there are a few awesome cat websites that will provide you a picture of a cute cat every time. for those dog lovers I am sure there are other websites for you.

Again all these are things that can help you, but ultimately it is you that need to make the decision. Do you want to write, if so then start right now. There is no better time to write, jot a few words down and slowly you will build yourself up to a rhythm.

Also you don’t need to complete the full 50,000 you can set your own target, at the end of the day it is for you to start writing. If you don’t feel up to the full 50,000 then set an internal goal slightly lower, something more manageable for yourself.

I hope lots of people start NaNo this year, writing is a great experience. A way for us to express ourselves, and enjoy our craft. I hope this post does help people, get in the mood and most important Write.

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10 thoughts on “That crazy month of NaNoWriMo

  1. I think a common term for NaNoWrimoers is wrimos.
    Great advice! NaNoWriMo is all about shutting down that editor and making time to write, write, write. I’ve done NaNoWriMo since 2013 and I’ve managed to win every year. For me, the best thing to do is to write ahead of the proposed 1667 words per day in order to be prepared for any downtime or writing block. For me, being ahead is more motivating than writing to catch up. Plus, it helps with writer’s block if I don’t stress about having to meet a certain word count by the end of the day.

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    1. Yup, I usually do get ahead of the curve, it really helps on the days where I cannot write anything 🙂 This will be my third year doing it, which will hopefully resolve in a third win. Feeling good about it, this year I have planed out most of the story, which should be very helpful in completing it.

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      1. This will be my fourth year and I got my hat trick last year! I haven’t planned out my story for this year’s yet. I know what I’m going to write, just need to plan it out from start to finish. It’s getting close and I’m a little stressed out. Haha.
        Hope we’ll both manage a win again this year! Good luck 🙂

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      2. This year is the most I have plotted, usually I only have the skeleton of a story. I want to see how well I do, and if in depth plotting is the way for me.
        Don’t stress out, you can do it! It will go so quickly, and be very easy!
        Yup hopefully we will, I am getting really excited for it. I want to do it for a long time, I may do Camp Nano next year!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s great! It’s good to try out different ways of writing stories to see what suits you the best.
        I’ll do it as soon as I finish the current WIP I’m working on 🙂
        I did Camp Nano this year! The April one. I wrote a short novella for that one. My cabin was pretty inactive though, so didn’t feel that much different from Nanowrimo for me.

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      4. I am going to try and go to lots of irl meet-ups, I feel that helps me out a lot. I know my London Facebook page was very active during Camp NaNo, perhaps check to see if your local area has a FB page for it?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. That is a shame, try you best and you may find some like minded people. The people will slowly crawl out of the woodwork closer to the time frame.
        You can also perhaps do Youtube Virtual write ins, they are very good!

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