I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my participation during 2010 and 2011, but now I’ve got this novel to revise and as much as I would love to join in on the madness, I have to pass.
I want to encourage those of you who are on the fence to jump in, however. I would love nothing more than to live vicariously through other first-time or experienced novelists as they plow through the month. As a WriMo grad, I offer some advice as you get started.
1) Have a plan. Do you have a novel idea germinating? Now is the time to let that idea grow in your imagination. I had been thinking about a novel plot for several months before my first NaNoWriMo, and while it changed a great deal in the course of the writing, the basic elements of that idea are still very much at the heart of the novel. Start dreaming now.
2) Write every day. Write before you do anything else. Last year I discovered 705words.com and I used it religiously. What I love about the site is that it tracks your progress and rewards you with badges and words of encouragement as you plot through the month. For NaNoWriMo you will need to write closer to 1650 words per day to meet your goal, but 750words.com will continue to help you keep pace through the month (the site keeps a running total of the month as well).
3) Don’t revise during NaNoWriMo. Ever. Revision is key to crafting the novel, but not until it’s done. Revising too soon will lead to false starts and will keep you from moving through the storyline. You’ll have plenty of time to revise. Just not now.
4) Find a group. At George Mason University the Undergraduate English Society (UES) hosts a number of write-ins across campus, but NaNoWriMo also hosts local writing groups. These are not social groups, but support groups. I find that being in a room with other writers is incredibly helpful, and exciting. It’s great motivation.
5) Enjoy the month. As much as writing a novel in a month can see like a chore, if you love writing you will love NaNoWriMo. It’s one of the few times where you can write simply for the love of it, so feed your writing obsession.