We love NaNoWriMo--or “NaWhateverWriMo” because it takes a month when it’s easy to slack off—hello, holiday season!—and turns it into a month when much of the writing community is settling in to push harder. And we’ve done a multiplicity of versions of this sucker, from classic draft your novel NaNo (Fall 2017, and it led to KJ’s first published novel, The Chicken Sisters, coming next year), NaRevWriMo (revision) NaPropWriMo (proposal), NaNonFicWriMo (I think you’ve got the drift).
Here’s why—and how—we think you should grab NaWhateverWriMo and make it your own.
It’s November. See above. It would be so easy to write November off, but instead, there’s a whole community of writers out there making it a month to crank madly away instead of mulling over holiday concerts and pie recipes. Whatever you’re working on, there are writers out there finding a way to amp it up and WriMo it. Once you find them (try our Facebook group), you’ll be jazzed to keep up.
Goals are magic. Creating your Na___WriMo means setting very specific goals. If you’re pulling together a book proposal, you’ve got four weeks to create your various sections (Intro, Bio, Comparative titles, Marketing ideas, Chapter Lists, Sample chapters) and you’d better divide those up and come up with some deadlines, or you’ll be rewriting your intro for the twelfth time instead of slogging through those comps. (Ask us how we know.) And specific goals change the game in meaningful ways--especially the goal of getting all the way to the end.
NaNo pushes you to push yourself. The classic NaNoWriMo challenges writers to produce a 50K word novel draft in just 31 days, at a rate of 1612 words a day. For many of us here at #AmWriting, that’s 600 words a day more than the norm (although Sarina is setting her sticker goal at 1200 lately). Getting that extra 612 words means two things: first, you better know what you’re going to write (see below) and second, you’d better plan ahead to give yourself an extra hour or so a day to make it happen. And here’s the great news about that: once you know you have it in you—the time, the mojo, the whatever—you can keep going.
You can’t just mess around. The challenge of putting more words than usual on the page demands focus and discipline. Whatever goals you’ve made for your project, if they’re comparable to the stretch of 1612 as opposed to 1000, you’ll need to know what you’re going to achieve them. Maybe that means a burn chart for your revision or proposal (see Top Five Reasons to Make a Burn Chart and Top FIve Steps to Burn Chart Success), but for that novel or memoir draft, you’ll need a roadmap if you want most of those 50K words to be useful (again, ask us how we know). Find free tools to prepare at authoraccelerator.com/amwriting (the only place to download the Inside-Outline guidelines for free) and set yourself up so that you never sit down asking yourself what you’re going to write next. (Another tip--no scene or chapter should exceed 3K words. If your people have been in that same coffee shop by the time you hit word 4398, you’re in so much trouble. Again, ask us how we know.)
NaNoWriMo—or whatever you dub it—is fun. We’ll be dropping helpful bonus push-yourself episodes weekly for supporters and heading into the Facebook group for some Lives on the topics of setting and meeting goals and making things really happen, which is what NaNo is all about, and we won’t be the only podcast making November something special. Start of the holidays? Hell, yeah. NaNoWriMo IS a holiday (well, a busman’s holiday, we suppose) in the way it pulls us all together around what’s become a tradition of pushing back against a world that’s constantly pushing against us. Can we make art when all we’re “supposed” to make is gravy?
Yes we can!
The #AmWriting Podcast sends a #WritersTopFive to supporters every Monday, and occasionally, we share one—like this one— with all of our email subscribers. Feel free to forward it to a friend who might enjoy it.
And if you’d like to get next Monday’s #WritersTopFive: Top 5 Resources for Dictating Your Work, become a #AmWriting Podcast supporter! Supporters get:
Our weekly #WritersTopFive email, featuring fast, fun, actionable advice from KJ, Jess, Sarina and our guests on writing topics including:
Top 5 Ways to Make a Reader Laugh
Top 5 Newsletter Subject Lines
Top 5 Ways to Start an Agent Query
Top 5 Ways to Defeat the Internet Distraction Beast
and—starting November 1, 2019—subscriber-only bonus PODCAST SHORTS. A little weekly inspiration from one of us every Monday, straight into your podcast feed, but only for supporters. Want in? Click the button.