Start Your Pencils and Pens: One Week Before NaNoWriMo Begins!

Participant-2014-Web-BannerNational Novel Writing Month 2014 starts next Saturday morning at midnight! The mad dash to write 50,000 words in 30 days and come out with 1 novel is seven short days away. All around the world, people are psyching themselves up for a massive community effort to create new content and challenge themselves to fulfill that often-spoken wish: “I always wanted to write a novel but never had time.”

It’s time to put off putting off that novel within and dive into a massive community which wants to see everyone cross that 50K wordcount finish line. So, sign up and sign in today, get into the forums and get to know your co-authors locally and around the world, and get psyched up to get writing!

I’ve done this for eleven years so far. I’ve written before that the Dome Trilogy was my first NaNoWriMo winner. It’s exciting to look on my bookshelf and see all three books together after eleven years. It’s a weird feeling, going into November having that dream in print. That first year, I thought I was writing a finished work on the first draft. Even from the first to the third book, I see a massive improvement in my own fiction-writing over the past decade. It’s almost terrifying to consider the novels I wrote twenty years ago. They must have been wretched, despite being entertaining to the people who read them.

So, how’s it done?

Well, these are the basic rules quoted from the NaNoWriMo forums:

  • Write one 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works). While this is no longer a hard-and-fast rule, it is still very strongly recommended, ESPECIALLY for first timers.
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
  • Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.

These are the very basic rules. There are also those who do it a little differently but still get that November wordcount. The point is that it’s a work of fiction prose written starting after midnight on November first and ending before midnight on December first.

It’s very difficult to achieve, especially the first time. Time management is part of NaNoWriMo, getting a rough draft written (and it’s a VERY rough draft) in thirty days around work and family and Thanksgiving. Also, 50,000 words is a daunting task until one achieves it. I’ve seen a lot of people stop mid-month when the going gets tough, so even making it to November thirtieth is an accomplishment.

There are writing regions all over the world. After creating an account, one can choose a home region and get information on write-ins (local face-to-face meetings where participants can socialize and write together in a supportive environment).

Last, these are a few writing tips I’ve picked up over the years from veteran NaNo’ers:

  • Fire that inner editor. A participant can rehire it in March for National Novel Editing Month.
  • If the story goes in a direction that stops the writing flow and you’re using a computer and a document program, don’t delete your text. Just go backward through what’s been written to the last compelling scene. Put a few spaces between the last good scene and the start of the scene for “deletion”. Select the text that is destined for deletion and turn the text’s color white. The word count is there, the text can be used for later ideas, and it’s not a distraction.
  • Write at least 1,667 words daily. 30 days of 1,667 words will get a participant to that 50,000-word goal.
  • Have fun with it!

So, this is my entry for today. I hope people decide 2014 is the Year of The Put-Off Novel, and I would love to hear from new participants who decided to “go for the green”.

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