Making the most of a Novel Writing Month

Hello gentle reader,

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

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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!