Guest Post by Lillie Ammann
November is almost here, and many of you are gearing up to write a 50,000 word novel during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo, and I’ve never written a novel in thirty days. However, I wrote an 85,000 word romantic mystery novel in six months, writing only a few hours one day a week. If I had written every day instead of once a week, I would have finished the first draft of Dream or Destiny in less than thirty days.
Perhaps the method I used to write a novel in six months can help you write a novel in thirty days if you write more often than I did.
- Make a commitment. I committed to write a chapter each week so I would have something for a weekly critique group meeting. You can make a commitment to write 50,000 words in thirty days or 1500-2000 words a day or 12,000 words a week during the month of November.
- Ensure accountability. My critique partners held me accountable. I didn’t want to show up at the meeting without a chapter for them to read. You can report your word count on the NaNoWriMo Web site, share updates on your blog, or compare progress with writer friends who are also NaNoWriMo participants.
- Establish a schedule. I set aside three to four hours the afternoon before my critique group meeting to write each week. You will likely have to sacrifice some other activities for the month of November to create enough time to write 50,000 words, so decide on a schedule that works for you. Early in the morning, late at night, on your lunch hour, during the baby’s nap … plan time to write each day. How much time you need will depend on how fast you write. If you don’t know how many words you average in an hour, write a short story and calculate your output. Then schedule the amount of writing time you’ll need to draft your novel in November.
- Be willing to write pure green dreck. The goal of NaNoWriMo is not to produce a finished novel but to create a first draft. Resist the urge to edit—you can do that long past the end of November. Your job during NaNoWriMo is to produce a draft to polish later.
- Make it easy to get started the next day. I like to write a few sentences into the next chapter in each writing session. The next time I sit down to write, I find it easier to get started because I’m looking at the beginning of a scene rather than a blank page. It also helps to get back into the story by reading the last few paragraphs written the day before.
- Don’t let getting stuck slow you down. There’s no law that says you have write a novel from beginning to end. If you get stuck, don’t quit writing. Write something else—a scene later in the book, even the last chapter. Or make a note that you need to add a scene or a chapter and continue writing. Keep the momentum going throughout the month.
I hope these six tips help you become a NaNoWriMo winner.
My visit here at Words for Hire is the first stop on my blog book tour, which will continue for the next three weeks. If you follow the tour, you’ll learn where I got the idea for the story and why it took ten years for the book to be published. But now it’s time to focus on writing that novel in thirty days. Good luck!
I look forward to your comments, and I’ll check back during the day to answer questions.
I am so thrilled that Lillie included Words For Hire on her blog book tour! Lillie has graciously agreed to give away a copy of Dream or Destiny to one lucky Words For Hire reader. To enter, simply leave a question or comment on today’s post. You may comment at any time during the day or evening. The contest will close at 8am EST Tuesday, October 28th. One reader will be randomly selected as the winner. I have started reading my copy of the book and I am hooked!
Lillie Ammann didn’t start writing until a devastating stroke convinced her it was time to pursue her lifelong dream. She sold her interior landscape business and started her new career as a freelance writer and editor. Dream or Destiny is her second novel. Lillie and her husband Jack live in San Antonio, Texas. She blogs at A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye.