Getting Ready for National Novel Writing Month
This week is the last of October, which means National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is just around the corner. NaNoWriMo is an event that brings together approximately 500,000 writers from around the world with a single goal: write 50,000 words during the month of November. Why 50,000? That’s the minimum word count for a story to officially be considered a novel. If you’re up for the challenge, here are some things to keep in mind.
Creating an Account
NaNoWriMo’s website makes it really easy to keep track of your word count progress and receive prizes if you “win” by writing 50,000 words. If you plan on participating, set up an account on NaNoWriMo’s website and select create your novel from the top of your dashboard. Make sure you’re associating your project with NaNoWriMo 2022, follow the instructions, and begin writing!
Setting up a Word Goal
Unlike Camp NaNo in April and July, when you start a project on NaNo’s platform in November, you do need a minimum word goal of 50,000 words. However, you can set your own goal and keep track of your word count separately if you believe 50,000 words is unattainable (or too little).
You do need to acknowledge your schedule and priorities when setting your word goal. Balancing school or work with writing is difficult in and of itself, and additional commitments make meeting a 50,000 word goal difficult. Be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish, and remember that any progress is worth acknowledging.
Even if you’re not actually writing an entire novel, you can take advantage of the writing buzz around you to motivate yourself to write a little bit more than you usually would.
Finding a Writing Community
One of the best parts of NaNoWriMo is, even though it’s a challenging project, it is a challenging project that half a million other people are attempting at the same time. Getting involved with NaNo-related events and communities can make NaNoWriMo a lot less overwhelming.
NaNo’s website itself has a variety of forums and events to encourage collaboration and bonding. These events (virtual and in-person) appear on your dashboard.
You can also look elsewhere for communities of writers participating in NaNoWriMo. On Instagram, #nanowrimo and #writersofinstagram are good places to look for participants. Twitter’s #nanowrimo and #wordcount are also popular for updates. You can consider joining The Young Writers Initiative’s community discord server, which has channels dedicated to NaNoWriMo (or other servers with similar goals).
Or, you can find friends in your own community who are participating in NaNoWriMo.
Wherever you may find the community you’re looking for, it is important to remember that you are not going through NaNoWriMo alone. If you feel overwhelmed or need motivating advice, there are half a million other people who can empathize with you.
Of course, even if you set a word count goal that seems reasonable and have a strong support system, you may still find yourself unable to meet your goal. School, work, and life can get in the way, or you might just lose interest in your project.
To avoid the latter, space out your writing. To reach 50,000 words for the month, you should write approximately 1,700 words each day. If you have a creative spark for a few days and write 3,000 words per day, you might burn yourself out. Instead, you should pace yourself and be careful not to overwrite. When you get a creative spark, maintain it by leaving scenes hanging each day so you can pick up in the middle of action the next day.
The purpose of NaNoWriMo is not to mindlessly put words on the page; it is to have fun. If writing becomes a chore or a major stress factor, continuing to write may not actually benefit you. If you truly find yourself unable to continue writing, it’s okay to take a break or reduce your word goal.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Let me know in the comments!