Making the most of a Novel Writing Month

Hello gentle reader,

Two days ago Camp NaNoWriMo ended and I didn’t “win” it.

camp_nano_logo

The idea behind such a writing challenge (whether it is the original NaNoWriMo in November, JuNoWriMo in June or Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July) is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. All you have to do as a writer is sit down and write 1667 words a day for 30 days and you end up with a complete first draft on the last day of the challenge, which makes you a challenge “winner”.

That’s in theory, at least.

As you may know from following this blog or my Twitter feed, I am not a full-time writer. I have a Crazy Day Job which keeps me busy for at least 60 hours a week. I have to sleep, eat and show my face outside every day. I can’t just hide in my writing cave for a month, even if I really want to. So a challenge like Camp NaNoWriMo doesn’t sound like something I should have even tried to do, since it was clear from the start winning was going to be hard, if not impossible.

But I still made the most of Camp NaNoWriMo in April. Here are my tips to make the most of a Novel Writing Month challenge when you don’t have time for a Novel Writing Month challenge…

1) Be prepared.

Before you dive in the writing challenge, know what you are going to write. Have a rough outline for your plot, some ideas for your characters and your themes. This will help you not getting “stuck”.

2) Set yourself a goal.

1667 words every day is too much for me, I know that. I write slowly (700 words in 60 minutes at best) and I never have more than two hours a day to write. So during Camp NaNoWriMo, I decided to write 500 words a day.

3) Play with the rules.

Writing a first draft implies “not looking back”, even “word vomiting”. Write now, edit later. I can’t do that. Because I have so little time to write, I need to know what I’m writing isn’t going to end up deleted when I read it again at the end of the month. So I edit as I go.

4) Take part in writing sprints on Twitter.

A Novel Writing Month is about community. As writers, we can feel pretty lonely sometimes. A writing challenge is a great way to find other writers online, people who are also trying to write a novel in a month. Motivation and perseverance stems from talking to them, and sharing our experience.

5) Whatever your wordcount in the end, it is a success, because YOU WROTE WORDS. I wrote 23,000 words in April. That’s a third of a novel, guys. And I’m happy with that.

Have you ever taken part in a Novel Writing Month? How did it go for you? What advice would you give to new participants? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

3 thoughts on “Making the most of a Novel Writing Month

  1. It was a brave try EM! Something that I’ve never done even though I write enough in a typical day to finish the challenge. The thought of a clock disturbs me. I already have an internal timer that’s counting down and another- external- measure would be unnerving. Kudos for 23k. It’s a good start…

  2. Leslie R. says:

    I did NaNoWriMo for the first time in November and I didn’t win either. I think I ended up with about 22k words. My day job is only 40 hours a week, but 1667 words a day is still a lot since I do most of my writing on my lunch hour, and like you, I write around 700 words an hour. It was a really good experience though, and I’m looking forward to CampNaNo in July.

  3. You are a legend, given your very full life and work committments, you consistently grow that word count (very impressive!) and continue to run an amazing blog (or 2). Great tips for surviving those NaNo type months – I agree wholeheartedly!

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