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5 Ways to Make the Most of National Novel Writing Month

woman working on her novel
Photoroyalty/Shutterstock

November begins NaNoWriMo, a time when experienced and budding authors take up their pens and start writing their next novel. It’s a month of motivation to get 50,000 words of fiction written.

Write an entire novel in one month may seem daunting, so be sure to prepare ahead of time. There are a few things you can do to get the most out of National Novel Writing Month.

Decide What You Want to Write

Before you get too ahead of yourself, decide what it is you want to write. Pick a genre you enjoy writing in. If you’re new to novel writing, consider writing a story in a genre you enjoy reading. It could be anything from horror and science fiction to romance.

Think up a title, while you’re at it. A working title can be changed later; it just gives you a starting point for your story idea.

Go to the NaNoWriMo Site

Once you have a genre and a title, you can head to the NaNoWriMo website and sign up. You can participate in National Novel Writing Month without joining the site, but it’s great motivation and will help you stay accountable.

Create an Outline

Not all novel writers use the same techniques. Some just start writing and let the story develop itself. Others begin with an outline. Outlines aren’t set in stone, and they can help give you direction and motivation, which is especially useful for first-time novel writers.

Create an outline, but feel free to make changes as you start writing your novel. Let it be a muse or a guide, rather than the rules of your story.

Set Goals

When you sign up on the NaNoWriMo site, you’re making a dedication to writing 50,000 words, the average length of a novel. Even if you don’t want to write 50,000 words in one month, you need to set yourself a daily and weekly goal, as well as something to strive for as your overall word count for the month.

Your goals can include more than word-lengths you want to reach. Maybe you want to do one chapter a day, or one chapter a week. Set that as your goal. Perhaps you want to write a short novella instead of a full novel. The idea is to make time to write, no matter how much writing you want to do overall.

Make Time

Finally, you need to set aside time to write every day. No matter how many words you want to accomplish during National Novel Writing Month, you’ll need time to write. Get up a half an hour earlier each day, or spend your lunch breaks writing.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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