Happy Halloween, and Happy Day 31 of “31 Days of NaNoWriMo Prep”! We did it! We made it to the end of the month! Tomorrow kicks off NaNoWriMo, and I don’t think I could be any more excited! Let’s end this month and kick off November with a bang by discussing exactly how you (and I) can win NaNoWriMo this year. If you’re new and haven’t read the rest of the posts in the series, it’s never too late to catch up! Click here to read the other 30 posts, or click here to watch the corresponding YouTube videos.
Okay, let’s hop right into this. How can you win NaNoWriMo? How can I win, for that matter? After all, I’ve participated for the past four years, but I’ve never actually reached the elusive 50,000 words. Which, I’m sure, doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence, but hear me out. This year, I guarantee that I’m going to win NaNoWriMo. Bold words, I know, but I say them with the utmost confidence. I’m able to say them with confidence because, after four years, I know what I’ve been doing wrong. That’s why I decided to take on the challenge of covering 31 topics in 31 days in the first place. I wanted to keep you guys from making the same mistakes I have, and most of my mistakes had to do with simply not being prepared. So if you’ve been following along with my posts, you should already be in a prime position to win NaNoWriMo. Of course, there’s still some other things that you can do throughout the month of November to also keep yourself on track.
First, you should keep in mind that it’s better to get ahead early than to fall behind and try to catch up. If you know your schedule ahead of time, plan around days you know you won’t get any writing done and make up for those lost words in the days before. My biggest mistake in NaNoWriMos past was that I would hit the daily goal of 1,667 words and then just stop writing. Then, days where I couldn’t write started piling up, making my daily goal increase slowly until I was overwhelmed and simply gave up. Don’t let this happen to you. Pull ahead while you can so that you don’t become overwhelmed by days when you simply can’t write for one reason or another.
Second, if you’ve made an outline, make sure you use it. The outline is the best way to keep you writing quickly and consistently. The past four years, I actually haven’t been working with an outline, and I can almost guarantee that that’s the reason I’ve failed. It’s hard to get almost 2,000 words down a day if you don’t even know which direction your story needs to go in.
Third, don’t edit as you go. There isn’t time for you to get caught up in editing what you’ve already written. NaNoWriMo is about forward momentum. Getting words down on the page and working out the kinks later. First drafts are rarely pretty, no matter how much you edit them, so why waste the time that you could be using to reach your word count goal for the day? December is all about polishing up your draft, and that’s when you can release your inner editor from its cage (but no sooner!).
Fourth, try your best to write every day, even if you only get ten words down. This’ll keep your writing gears well-oiled for when you’re able to get back to the grind. I’m sure you know how difficult it is to write after you’ve skipped a day, and with NaNoWriMo you really can’t afford to stutter. If you really can’t write on a certain day, though, at least make sure you’re thinking about your novel whenever you can, so that you have plenty to write the next time you’re able to sit down at your computer/typewriter/notebook/stone tablet/whatever.
Fifth, tell everyone you know that you’re participating! It’s harder to let yourself slip if you’ve told your friends and family to hold you accountable, and, as the wise Jenna Moreci likes to say, “Public humiliation is an excellent motivator.”
Sixth, keep up with updating your word count on the NaNoWriMo website. It’s hella motivating to see your progress on the charts they provide you with, trust me. I recommend updating once a day so that you can watch with pride as you creep closer and closer toward your goal.
Seventh, make writing buddies on the forums. Just like your friends and family, your writing buddies will hold you accountable with your writing, especially since they’ll be able to actually see your progress (or lack thereof). If you’re falling behind, they’ll motivate you to get back on track. Plus, you can do the same for them!
And eighth, participate in writing sprints on twitter! Like I mentioned before, during NaNoWriMo there isn’t time to go back and edit, and writing sprints will keep you from doing just that. When you’re expected to write a lot of words in not a lot of time, you won’t even have a chance to think about whether what you’re writing is good or not. Honestly, it’s super freeing.
And if you don’t win, remember, even getting 100 words down is progress, and progress is great! That’s 100 words that you hadn’t written before! There isn’t a blank page anymore, and the only direction you can go now is forward! Plus, there’s always next year, and the year after that, and the year after that… I mean, look at me. My very first NaNoWriMo (2014, my freshman year of college), I only got 4,425 words down of some untitled novel that’s probably lost on my computer somewhere. I started writing on November 4th, banged out the 4,425 words, and then never wrote again for the rest of the month. However, last year I wrote from November 1st through the 17th, and I was ahead the whole time. I reached 39,711 words before I “abandoned” the project, and that only happened because I was working on Book Two of The Caspian Chronicles (yes, the same book I’m working on this year) and decided to switch both books one and two to first person POV, which totally threw everything off. If that hadn’t been the case, though, I know that I would have won last year. But that just goes to show you that, with NaNoWriMo, the only direction you can go is up. You live, you learn, and you grow. And, eventually, you’ll win NaNoWriMo!
Aaaannnddd that’s it! “31 Days of NaNoWriMo Prep” is officially over! I sincerely hope you guys enjoyed these posts and that you’ve learned some new, interesting things about writing and publishing a novel! And fret not! Just because this month is over, that doesn’t mean the learning is over! Starting in January of 2018, I’ll be posting a writing advice blog once a month, along with a corresponding YouTube video! After all, while coming up with the topics for this month, I realized I had so much more to talk about. So stay tuned for that, and thank you guys so, so much for joining me on this crazy, epic adventure! I love you all! Best of luck with NaNoWriMo!
P.S. Add me as a writing buddy! My username is “Leighton Jae Williams”, and if you add me, I’ll make sure to add you back!