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NaNoWriMo

November would be a month for most people to celebrate the slight transition of October’s Halloween pumpkins and dry leaves autumn vibes to the cozy, stay-under-the-covers and drinking hot chocolate, sweater weather. Still, there is something special about this month when it comes to writers all around the world. This extraordinary thing is called NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, a writing challenge that invites writers worldwide to start off with a brand new project that they’ve probably been dreading to start with and finish it within a 30-day timeline. It is organized by this non-profit organization called nanowrimo.org, where you have to sign up and update your writing progress every day till the last day of the month with a word limit reaching 50,000 words.


How is NaNoWriMo different from any other long-hand-written novel writing project?

This November novel writing month is notable because, as already mentioned, it makes people less conscious about what they are writing and puts them in this clocking sense of time passing by to develop a habitual writing routine that suits their schedule daily.

Other than that and endless motivation towards writing more stories in the future, NaNoWriMo also offers awards for reaching certain word milestones. For example, if one gets the limit of 50,000 words at the end of the month, it also provides the winning writer a free paperback of their work.

Funnily enough, someone who hasn’t written anything before and has no idea how to get started with writing at all, let alone with their NaNoWriMo project, they are likely to think that writing is this cakewalk that you can efficiently complete in a month. If that’s you, here’s a little news: Writing is hard. It sometimes takes years, even after extensive outlining and plotting. So, how does one exactly go about writing a NaNoWriMo novel within a month?

1. Become a Participant -

The first thing you have to do to participate in NaNoWriMo this year is to make an account on nanowrimo.org and fill out your profile. You can also ask your friends to join and become buddy writers together. Make sure to also check the FAQs to get a better understanding of the NaNoWriMo writing challenge.

2. Choose What You’re Going to Write -

Now, this step sounds clear to everyone, but when you actually sit in front of your computer or your notebook to start off with your NaNoWriMo novel, this question might test you till you wreck your brains and see stars above your head. So, how do you decide which story you should choose as your project for NaNoWriMo 2021?

Ideally, it should be a book where you should have some vague idea about how it will go and end. Don’t just obliviously sit in front of your computer with no planning at all on the first day of the challenge; if you do that, you’ll never be able to reach the final word count. On the other hand, if there’s a story that you’ve outlined but have not started drafting, and you know how the story is going to go, you can probably use that story as your writing project.

But say, you’re not much of a plotter. What if you are a pantser, or maybe you don’t have any story with a ready outlined plot? There’s no need to worry. You have to know your character’s present situation and status at the end of the book. With this knowledge, start writing with what you think should be the ideal place to start the novel. Remember that most first drafts are messy and unstructured. So, there’s nothing to worry about, even if you don’t have a structure prepared.

3. Writing Routines -


To reach the 50,000 word limit on your NaNoWriMo novel, you’ll have to write 1,667 words every day but writing above one thousand words per day is not an easy job, especially if you have work to attend or have a family that keeps interrupting you. In fact, writing is the kind of job that you cannot necessarily confine to a time slot because there can be times when you have nothing to do, but your creativity is not ready to take the steering wheel.

However, what you can do for writing is to try to make it a routine of your daily life but in a way that you can control it. Of course, every day is different, and obviously, nobody can stick to a routine because of the spontaneity of life but what you can do is that you can make multiple writing routines for each day - one for the morning, another for the evening, and one for the night time writing.

You don’t have to necessarily write three times a day, but this way, if you don’t find yourself free or utterly focused on your writing project, you can quickly just get back to it on another writing shift.

4. Tackling Writer’s Block -


Writer’s block can be a nightmare to most writers, but it’s even worse when this happens during the November novel writing month! Mainly writer’s block occurs when you don’t know what to write next or maybe when you’re overthinking about your book a lot. In both cases, it’s wise to step away from it for a little while and then come back to it with a fresh mind and rewrite the whole scene again on a new page without thinking a lot about the errors.

Another exciting thing that you can do if you think you’re stuck is to rewrite the scene from a different point of view. So, if you’re writing about a lover’s confession in a romantic novel, you can start the scene again from the love interest’s point of view and see how they would react in their head.

Sometimes writers also very easily confuse writer’s block with a writing slump which is a cause of exertion and happens if a person feels bored with what they’re doing; in that case, you can try switching the tool with which you’re writing. Maybe if you don’t listen to music as you penned, try listening to music when you write. If you don’t like writing with pen and paper, maybe give it a pick. Try a different writing location, a different routine. Change sometimes rewires the brain into freshness which is much needed when you’re writing a book.

5. Plot Holes and How to Cover Them -

So, you’ve plotted the story, written almost half of it, and now you’ve just come across a plot hole that changes your whole plot, and now you think you have to write things all over again? Plot holes mainly occur when there is any inconsistency or contradiction in your events.

In that case, two things can be done. Either you can go back to your plotting stage and restructure your whole story all over again from scratch, or you could just delete the scenes in your revision history that eventually leads towards that plot hole and replace them with a more convenient theory. This way, you don’t have to lose time, and your plot hole also gets covered.

6. Should You Research and Edit as You Write?

There are all kinds of writers out there. Some of us edit and research as we go, and it is a reasonable proposition if you’re not on a deadline and just writing for fun. However, with NaNoWriMo, you have to exercise caution to practice all of your effort and time. Although editing and researching are essential parts of writing routines, they can still prove to be time-consuming, and you don’t want to do that in your November writing challenge.

Researching can be done in October, which for NaNoWriMo writers is called Preptober and is solely dedicated to preparing and plotting the novel that you will be writing in November. Still, if, in any case, you are not able to finish with your research, you can always make notes on your project as a reminder for you to work on the analysis.

As for editing, NaNoWriMo projects are nothing but drafts and should be taken as drafts, not manuscripts. You don’t have to worry if you can already feel that you have a lot of editing to do. Take this challenge as the first drafting stage. Editing can be done later.

7. NaNoWriMo Rules -

Although there is no right way of writing a novel, a challenge is only fun if there are rules that you must follow at all costs. While preparing for NaNoWriMo, you must keep the following rules in mind -

  • The November writing challenge only begins at 12 AM on the first day of the month and ends at 12 PM on the 30th, not before that.

  • No other writing that has been drafted before the challenge begins is to be taken or added to the project. Your outline should be a brand new story.

  • Plotting, outlining as well as notes for editing purposes are allowed and shall not be questioned. Still, no other additional information should prove to be a part of your writing challenge.

  • All genres, including fanfictions, short stories, poetry, or epistolary formatted novels, can be written. You can try composing something out of your comfort zone or something rebellious as long as it conforms to the rules of the writing challenge.

Conclusion -

While preparing for writing for the NaNoWriMo novel writing month challenge, most people just focus on reaching the word count limit, and the whole process becomes exceptionally stressful. Then they don’t really end up enjoying the journey of writing a book. Hopefully, with the help of this article, you will be able to complete your first draft a little bit earlier than you were initially going to, now that you have some tricks up your sleeves. Enjoy writing!

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