Sunday, October 18, 2015

"The first draft of anything is s***." --Ernest Hemingway

In exactly 13 days, I and around 400,000 other aspiring novelists will begin the epic task of writing a novel. In one month.

Since 1999, every November has been National Novel Writing Month, or "NaNoWriMo." The goal is to write a draft of a 50,000 word novel (about the length of "The Great Gatsby") during the 30 days of November. This means writing at a rate of about 1667 words per day.

Crazy, right?

Right.

As long-time readers of this blog will know, this will be my 4th year of doing NaNoWriMo, and it's one of the hardest and awesomest things I've ever done.

Because the point isn't to write a GOOD novel. It's just to pound out that draft of the book you always SAID you'd write. Because you can take 50,000 words of rubbish and edit it to make a novel. You can't make a good novel out of nothing. I completed my first novel in 2013, and just a few months ago, finished a draft that's good enough to send out to agents and publishers. Because you gotta start SOMEWHERE.

So who's with me?! If you're in, there are a few handy resources and tools that have helped me in past years. Here they are!

1. NaNoWriMo Website
This is one of the best resources. On the website, you can update your daily word count, join local regions and hold write-ins, get pep talks from published authors, and visit the forums. I LOVE the pep talks, and the forums are an awesome resource if you're feeling stuck. There's even a forum called "The Adoption Society," where people put unused characters, plot twists, and settings up for "adoption" to be used in other works. I'm "Lizanator" if you want to add me as a writing buddy!

2. Pinterest!
It might sound a little weird, and there's definitely a possibility of distraction. But I've used Pinterest as a place to gather images, articles, websites, inspiration, motivating quotes, and other resources. I've also got a bunch of "plot generators" and writing prompts, if you want to write but aren't sure what to write about. You can check out my "Writing Things Down" board here.

3. TickTockTimer
You can also just use the timer on your phone...any ole timer works. I use this for two things: timing breaks and doing "word sprints." If I'm having trouble writing, I'll sometimes give myself 10 minutes to write, and 10 minutes of a break, and it keeps me productive. A "word sprint" is the practice of pounding out a bunch of words in a set amount of time. Say, 500 words in 20 minutes! Sometimes NaNo writers will challenge each other to these, and it's a fun way to meet goals.

BUT WAIT!!! IT'S ONLY OCTOBER! IT'S AGAINST THE RULES TO START WRITING UNTIL NOVEMBER! WHY ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT THIS RIGHT NOW?! 

Because NaNoWriMo is easier for a lot of folks if you have a little bit of an outline. Or an idea. Or a half-coherent sheet of hastily scribbled notes. It's not NECESSARY. But if you want to participate, and you also want to plan, I thought I'd share this stuff NOW. You've got 13 days to come up with ideas. I spent yesterday afternoon mapping out the basic plot of my futuristic dystopian YA novel, and tonight I'll spend some time ironing out the kinks in the world I'm creating.

So, happy writing, my friends!

photo via

1 comment:

Alyssa Tolman said...

okay, i've read your blog for years and have never commented, but this is INSPIRING. writing a post regularly is hard enough, how cool are you to do this multiple times! i'm totally going to try.