You’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo. You have your plot outlined and your character and world building planned. You feel completely ready and prepared for NaNoWriMo and are raring to complete the first rough draft of your novel. Many people who participate in NaNoWriMo think they are prepared, yet many never complete it. In fact, only an average of 15.6% of NaNoWriMo participants from 2006–2015 ever completed the challenge and surpassed 50,000 words written for the month.
Understandably, life can often get in the way and unexpected events arise. Regardless of the reason, I know more of you can succeed, so I want to share some tips that helped me win NaNoWriMo three years in a row.
Plan Your Time
Besides planning your novel, many people forget to also plan their schedule around NaNoWriMo. Try to set aside some time every day to write. We all live busy lives, but try and find an hour or two where you can just sit by yourself and write. Perhaps that means getting up a little earlier, or staying up a little later. If you have some days you simply cannot squeeze another activity in, then try to write more on other days. You don’t have to stick to exactly 1,667 words/day. If you can write 2,500 or 5,000 words in one sitting, then you will be ahead of the game and won’t have to stress out on the days your schedule is too full.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when writing, and especially if you’re trying to complete a challenge like NaNoWriMo, is to go back and edit everything you’ve just written. It will severely slow down your progress and make you start to second guess everything. Just write your story and let the words flow. There will be plenty of time to go back and edit the entire work after you’ve completed it. Editing is best done after you’ve set your work aside for awhile (a couple of weeks or even months). Giving yourself some time before you begin editing will give you fresh eyes and a better perspective.
Don’t Try to Finish
The point of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words towards a rough draft of a novel. There is nothing that says the story has to be complete by November 30, just that you have put in the effort to meet the word-count goal. If you can complete your novel within the thirty-day window, then more power to you. However, if fear and panic set in because you don’t think you can wrap up your story in that time-frame, then don’t worry about it. Many novels take 75,000 or even 150,000 words in order to be complete. 50,000 is really the bare minimum for a novel, so if you have more to write after November 30, then do so. Just focus on writing your story and completing the 50,000-word goal for November. There is no reason you can’t keep writing, even after the deadline has passed.
I hope these tips will help you to have a less-stressful and more-successful NaNoWriMo this year. Happy Writing!