Of course, the correct answer is 'getting a head start on my 50,000 words' because Sunday sees the start of National Novel Writing Month. That's where you try to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. That's right, 50,000 words in thirty days, that's roughly 1,667 words per day. More if you've got a slightly higher target for the month (I'm aiming for 75,000 words which means I need to get 2,500 words each day).
In honour of this momentous occasion I thought I'd share some useful things for NaNoWriMo, in no particular order.
Obviously, if you're taking part in NaNoWriMo, the first place you need to go is to NaNoWriMo.org to register on the site. Commit yourself to your novel, give it a title, write a synopsis and upload a cover for it. That's pretty much the first step in the NaNoWriMo addiction programme. While you're there, add me as a buddy.
One of my favourite things about NaNo is the fact that there's this sort of mass hysteria surrounding it. Everywhere you look online you'll find people talking about it. NaNo converts are a vocal bunch so as well as joining in on conversations on the NaNo forums, don't forget to look out for chat on Twitter and the Facebook group.
You're going to want to decide on your strategy for approaching the month ahead. This post on the forums is pretty helpful in breaking down the different word count goals you might go for depending on when you'll have time to write during the month. I always find the steadily decreasing word count goal helpful because it takes advantage of the energy spurt you have at the beginning of the month and factors in the likelihood that your available time will decrease over the course of the month. You can even print it out, pick a day each time you sit down to write, cross off that total once you've done it and then aim for a different one the next day. So long as you cross off each day, you'll still make it to 50k by the end of the month.
What about when you've got the days when you can write nailed but you still don't know what you're going to write about?
That's okay, there's a whole forum for that. Head over to the Adoption Society boards where you can adopt everything from a plot, an opening line, a dying line and even a fellow WriMo to make an appearance in your NaNovel.
And I've just got time for a few more last minute reminders.
Back up your work!No seriously. Back. It. Up. Use a pen drive. Use two pen drives. Email it to yourself. Email it to your mother. Burn it onto CD. Print it out. Make copies. Nothing will kill your motivation faster than losing two days worth of work.
Don't stop writing.Write something, anything, every day. The only thing worse than not meeting your word count target is not writing anything. Remember, if you miss your quota for the day, that's fine. Check how many words you still have to write, divide it by the number of days left in the month, and go wild. Don't try making up the difference all in one day, you'll just depress yourself. Take advantage of days off, weekends, holidays, whatever. Build up a buffer so you can get away with writing less on a day. If you miss one day, it makes it a lot easier to miss another day.
Don't edit.There is a time and a place for editing. It is not November. By all mean, go back and reread what you've already written but don't write anything. Sit on your hands. Write a note to yourself about what needs to be changed. Move on and start writing something new. NaNo is about getting that first draft down; it doesn't have to be Shakespeare, it just has to be there. Editing slows you down and during NaNo you need every second for writing. So write.
Back up your work!Just because it's that important, it deserves saying twice!
Have you got any tips, tricks, NaNo stories, or pep talks to share? Why not Guest Blog here during November?
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you want to write about and I'll slot you in.