You always wanted to write a book, but couldn’t get started? Give NaNoWriMo a try! NaNoWriMo stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month’ and happens to be our lovely November. Since 1999 this event takes place every year and brings creativity to those cold and rainy days.

The goal is to write a total of 50’000 words in those 30 November days which sums up to about 200 average novel pages. That’s a lot, huh? Breaking it down into days leaves you with 1667 words to write each and every day. There is nothing to win aside from the unbelievable feeling of actually reaching this goal. Intrigued?

You can sign up on the official page, track your own progress and connect with other crazy writers. You can also let your results be verified to get a Winner Certificate which you can then proudly pin to your walls.

Preparation

From my own experience I can tell you: the better your preparation the better your results. I usually start planning the project at the beginning of October to get a headstart. Most of the time I restrain myself from writing during that time to increase my anticipation to start in November. October kind of feels like the Advent season and consists of planning and anticipation while November is Christmas time itself; beautiful, but stressful at the same time.

To give you the best start possible I’ll share with you my own experience and tips.

1. Start planning early

If you’re someone who plots a lot, you better start early. Unexpected events happen and suddenly November knocks on your door and you have no idea where your story is headed.

2. Sketch out as much as possible

Remember that you have to write 1667 word’s a day. Every day. Next to your regular job, academic studies, associations, family and friends. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and nerve, if you look up the spoken language in Prague, the lethal amount of blood loss and the training procedure to becoming an astronout beforehand.
Granted, asking Google some questions is quick and easy – even though it adds up – but it gets disparately more difficult when it comes to the structure of your story. No search engine can help you, if your story world is inconsistent and you don’t know why the dwarves of the black forest should want to help the emerald-green magician who enslaved them for years.

3. List of names

I don’t plot my stories down to the last little detail so it’s quite common that there pop up some minor characters along the way. I keep a separate document with names to quickly find and use one, when I need one.

4. Snacks

To be able to spend the time as uninterrupted as possible when writing I try to stock up some food snacks beforehand. I buy or prepare some quick meals and even have the number of the local pizza delivery on hand. Better save than sorry.
If you don’t want to live off of fast food and instant meals you can do a round of food prep. Cook your (or your kids) favorite meals and put them in the freezer. When you need them you can just put them into the oven or microwave and you have an effortless home-cooked meal.

5. Sign off from your social life

Just kidding. Kind of. You seriously should inform your family and friends about your challenge to make them understand your situation. You don’t want them to be angry, because you have no time or worse, to make them worry that something happened to you.

6. Search for allies

This can make or break your project. Especially at half time. Euphoria is long gone and you reluctantly need to continue to write – even if you long to go to the cinema or to go for a nice stroll through fall leaves or actually feel the urge to tidy up your apartment (I always feel this urge to clean and by the time I call my mother to ask her to let me clean her windows, she knows that it’s NaNo-time again).
It’s incredibly powerful to have one or more allies who have your back and remind you of your accomplishments so far. They will cheer and root for you and ignite that stubborn spark to aim for the finish line. A little word war (a challenge to write the most words in a set amount of minutes) can do wonders for sleeping ambitions.

Participating in a NaNoWriMo is incredibly challenging, but unbelievably rewarding. It is a once in a lifetime experience (or once in a years time) and I highly recommend everyone to give it a try. Happy writing!

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