So last year with Nerdologists getting started about this time (Happy Birthday to Us!), Kristen and I weren’t able to write for NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month). However, the two years prior, thanks to Kristen, I’ve done NaNoWriMo along with her.
A quick overview what NaNoWriMo is. Each November people from across the world write 50,000 word (or so) novellas. That is the minimum amount of words that you can write to complete the challenge, though some people go over that by a ways. 50,000 words is an average 1,667 words per day (give or take a third of a word). So in the evenings, after work, Kristen and I will turn on some music (sometimes) and knock out large chunks of our stories.
So what does one need to do to write their own story for NaNoWriMo?
First, hop onto http://nanowrimo.org/
It’s a quick, simple, and best of all it is free to sign-up. Now, they do like it if you donate, or support their sponsors, but that isn’t something that you have to do. Along with that they’ll ask you to create a description for your story. The cool thing on there is that as you work on your story, you can copy and paste your story in, and it’ll show you how many words you’ve written, if you are on target, and other fun stats about amount of words written in your city, country, and around the world, so you can watch the word count grow.
Next, get a story idea together
This is probably the hardest part. While I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head, many of them aren’t ideal for NaNoWriMo. You can write a story that is going to be a million words long, but I’ve found it really helpful to write a story that is going to be just over those 50k words. The reason that I like it is because it means that I’m going to have a rough draft but a finished complete story. It’s tricky after writing about every day for a month to not drop out of the time is up. So I’ve found it easier to just have a complete story in your mind and write that in the month. That way you get a sense of accomplishment, and maybe you can use that to write a longer story, but start with a complete story for NaNoWriMo, and come January, you’ll feel better about your writing.
Finally, block off time
Now, you don’t need to write five hours every day and get it done in two weeks. That is one possible way to write for NaNoWriMo, but very few of us actually have that sort of time. Most of the time it is better to start with a reasonable period of time. Figure out how long it takes you to write 1,667 words. Now, keep in mind that this is a rough draft of those words. So you shouldn’t be stopping and editing. Sure, if a typo is glaring at you, you can go get rid of that stupid red underline (or figure out how to turn them off). But if you realize that something you’ve previously written doesn’t make a ton of sense in your story, you can fix it another time. This is a rough draft, your goal is to write 50k words. If you go back and rewrite the same chunk of text ten times, you might hit 50k words, but you aren’t going to have a completed story. It’s okay if the first draft isn’t as good as you want it to be, that is why it is a draft, and that is why you write it over and over again, but right now, you are just blocking off time to write 1,667 words. You also might find that writing that many words doesn’t take you that long (or maybe it takes you a really long time). So adjust your writing schedule accordingly. For myself, I can turn out a post for Nerdologists that is half the word total in about thirty minutes, and it isn’t odd for me to write 3,000+ words at a time. Kristen it is more work for her to write as quickly, so it takes her longer and sometimes she’ll need a weekend where she sits down and writes for an extra three hours so she can finish. Figure that out about yourself, and adjust your time accordingly.
So, hopefully this is something that you are interested in doing, or something that you hadn’t heard of before and might do now. It is really a lot of fun and the sense of accomplishment at the end is great.
What sort of story would you write?