Monday, October 12, 2015

NaNoWriMo: 5 Steps to Getting Your Novel Done Right

November might mean Christmas trees and stuffed turkeys for most people, but for writers, it’s something else entirely. It’s here—the dreaded month all frustrated authors have been waiting for all year. NaNoWriMo brings sweat, tears, and countless hours holed up in a room like a hermit with the sound of fingers tapping keyboards well into the night, but it also brings the irreplaceable triumph of finishing a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month—if you know what you’re doing. Instead of rushing through the 30 days unmotivated and unprepared, get that rotting old story idea from outside of your head onto actual paper with these NaNoWriMo tips for success.

1.Plan ahead of time.

Join the thousands of aspiring authors all over the world and get a head start into the annual writing challenge by registering over at Here, you can update and keep track of your word count, as well as interact with the other brave souls who’ve taken up the challenge just like you have. You can get valuable resources and support from the community and claim awesome prizes when you reach your goal (apart from the smug satisfaction of a job well done).

Still, don’t just keep writing for writing’s sake. If you’re truly serious about emerging with a fresh new novel in your hands by the end of the month, then develop your ideas and your plot points properly before you even begin to write a single word. Good planning and development can spell the difference between a well thought-out piece and one that’s crap. Make sure you know where your story is going, who the main characters are, and what you want to happen to them. Don’t jump from writing a contemporary teenage love story to a dystopian sci-fi adventure set in the alternate planet Blarg. Get a good structure and road map so that you won’t get lost along the way when you finally begin writing.

2. Prep your survival kit.

Like any worthwhile endeavor, NaNoWriMo requires a great deal of effort and is not without its own set of hurdles. Make sure you’re prepared for any infuriating spells of writer’s block and inevitable bouts of insanity by having a survival kit handy. A kit can contain your trusty old thesaurus, some online authoring materials, and links to writing resources. You can have eye drops for when your eyes are popping out from the computer strain, or even a couple of chocolate bars stashed under your bed for those nights when you just need some sugar rush to get you going. Water bottles, headphones, and pots and pots of strong coffee can help, too.

3. Have the right attitude.

Nothing makes tales of redemption even sweeter than knowing you gave it your best shot. Writing 1,667 words a day is no easy feat, and while it’s always admirable to push yourself to the limit, you should learn to accept the possibility of failure, too. Develop a new mindset wherein you just let yourself write, let the words flow, and restrain your inner editor from rewriting everything you’ve just written. This should actually be the easy part—the free writing—compared to the editing hell you’ll need to go through after you finish your novel. So go ahead—just write. Nobody’s stopping you.

4. Surround yourself with a good support group.

Just when you think that writing is a solitary art, NaNoWriMo proves you wrong. Never underestimate the power of like-minded individuals all striving for the same goal. Simply being part of would-be writers banding together for a whole month should give you all the encouragement—and much-needed competition—that you need to get to that final word by the 30th. Besides, fellow authors make the best critics whom you can always turn to for feedback long after your initial draft is done.

5. Sit yourself down and write.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to simply get you started. A lot of frustrated authors often say, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but I have no idea where to begin.” This is it. By participating in the challenge of writing daily and aiming for that 50,000-word mark, you’re forcing yourself to sit down and just begin. Do whatever you need to do—unplug, hibernate, shut down your social media accounts. This is your chance to finally get your story started—you owe the characters in your head that much.

You still have a few weeks this October to prep yourself for NaNoWriMo, so fret not! And if you need more reasons to celebrate the author in you, the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators (APWT) is coming to the Philippines this month with a ton of writing resources you simply must not miss. The four-day gathering of emerging and world-renowned writers this 22-25th of October will feature book launches, readings, and workshops for writers of all kinds. The conference also boasts of its one-on-one author consultations, including sessions on pitching tips, editing, and honing your manuscript to perfection.

Workshops include “What if I offend/shame/embarrass People? - The Art of Writing Memoir” by Robin Hemley, Director of the Writing Program, Writer-in-Residence, and Professor of Humanities at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. Esteemed author Xu Xi will talk about “Writing Fiction of Dissonance, Difference & Dissidence (with Asian characteristics)” on the morning of October 23rd, while poet Ravi Shankar will discuss the beauty of poetry with “Creating Timeless Verse” in the afternoon. For anyone who’s ever had trouble pitching their manuscript properly (which is basically every unpublished author in the world), Tim Tomlinson will provide some valuable insights and tips on how to do it right on the same day as well. Then, to get an insider’s look into the complicated world of editing and publishing, participants can sign up for a workshop with Sally Breen on “What Editors Want” on October 24th. Venues are located at the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, and University of Santo Tomas. You can check out more info as well as how to register for the conference and the workshops here:

Is there really any need to say more? If you’ve always wanted to be a writer and your bucket list is filled with unpublished plots and future blockbuster movie tie-ins, there is no better time to start than this coming month. This is the year of your novel—all you need now is to write it!

*This article was first seen on The Philippine Online Chronicles HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Something on your mind?:)