A lot of your 50,000 words will be trash. Even the Nobel-prize-winning Ernest Hemingway said we all—he included—had to throw away the first million words, the equivalent of 20 years of NaNoWriMo. Your focus should be on avoiding writer’s block, “getting black on white,” as I’ve heard professional writers say. (And we at WordRake offer good advice on that, too, in this writing tip and an earlier blog post.) You’ll have unnecessary words, dull sentences, plot holes, and characters who go nowhere. But resist the urge to edit until December, when you’ve finished and editing software like WordRake can help you sift through what you’ve written to make it clearer and more concise.
Think about what will motivate you to finish
If you want support from others, ask a friend to do NaNoWriMo with you. You can check in with each other and sometimes write together. If your friends doubt they can write the first draft of a novel in a month, ask them to hold you accountable for working on your novel. Having friends and family support you and check in with a little encouragement inclines us to stick with our goals.
Although recruiting a friend to participate helped me, I also motivated myself with NaNoWriMo’s word checker. You don’t have to enter your text into the word checker until you want to verify you’ve hit 50,000 words, but the site keeps statistics on your progress, and seeing my word count go up every day encouraged me to continue. The NaNoWriMo word checker also told me if I had increased or decreased my average number of words per day, which kept me on target.
Don’t forget this. You’ve earned it. Writing an average of 1,667 words each day for a month requires dedication and time management. Is there a restaurant you’d like to try, new running shoes you’d like to have, or a short trip you’ve wanted to take? You might be working until midnight on November 30th, but try to commemorate your achievement in early December. During NaNoWriMo, your social life has probably waned, so planning an outing with friends when it’s over might be a good fit.
Enjoy the benefits of your accomplishment
When I read my novel in December, I liked only small parts of it, but I found those sections surprisingly well-written. Participating in NaNoWriMo showed me what I can do. It made writing eight-page papers for classes less intimidating, and the unexpected characters and plotlines I developed showed me I’m more creative than I had thought. After talking to professional writers, I also know that the most difficult part of writing is getting down that first draft. After that, your creative process takes over to produce your best work, which will hardly resemble the original. Participating in NaNoWriMo lets you experience that for yourself, and since writing well is the most important skill you will ever possess, this is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. Good luck!
About the Author
Caroline Engle is WordRake’s Marketing Communications Specialist. She convinced WordRake to hire her as an intern after placing in editing competitions and writing a novel in a month. When she isn’t editing or writing copy, coordinating conference logistics, or helping improve WordRake’s functionality, she’s reading, going on ten-mile walks, or looking up flight prices. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.