A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess was written in three weeks.
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle was written in three weeks.
On The Road by Jack Kerouac was written in three weeks (on some kind of mad bender, and on one continuous ream of paper).
Your novel will be written in just one month.
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an annual, global event which aims to help writers produce a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. At last count, there were 154,457 novelists officially registered to take part in NaNoWriMo 2013, which starts on November 1st.
You can register at the website, and the NaNoWriMo people will send pep talks and advice directly to your inbox, as well as providing tools on the website to help you plan your novel and interact with other novelists.
While it’s undeniably an insane undertaking, NaNoWriMo enforces some structure on your writing, and gives you a deadline. And, unlike the rest of the year, it puts you in a community setting for this mammoth challenge.
While I haven’t done NaNoWriMo before, I have done an intensive 10,000-word day. I know how important it is to plan, and how important it is to let go. By this I mean: Regard the work that you’re doing in November as a big vomit draft. The 50,000-word goal is not designed for you to come back each day with a fine-tooth comb to edit and perfect. NaNoWriMo is all about getting it down – re-working happens later. Also, accept that you might not hit the word goal. Your best is your best.
So, what’s the best way to get started? Planning is essential!
Get yourself a gorgeous notebook. Get yourself a spiral-bound notebook from Coles. Get yourself a chalk board or pinboard or whiteboard or wall. Get yourself a surface and a writing implement, and get brainstorming! Throw up every idea that comes to mind – this period in the lead-up to November is just for planning.
Here are a few things you might include in your planning:
- Character sketches
- Log lines: in just a sentence or two, what is your project? This often helps refine ideas, before further expanding them.
- Scene-by-scene breakdowns – this way when it comes to writing, you already know what’s going to happen, you just have to write it! (Just, she says.) Dot-points are your friend.
- Self-care is really important in this hectic month, too. Stock up your freezer, sit your partner down and enlist some help around the house, let your dog BoBo know that sometimes he’ll just have to kick over his food bag to get fed, and make sure you schedule time for non-writing activities: do some yoga, go for a walk, or call your Mum. This is part of your planning.
Here at Writers Bloc, we’re running our regular meetups, as well as putting extra support in place for you during NaNoWriMo. We’ve set up a new thread in the forums for you to share your progress. We’ll have weekly writing sessions at libraries in Sydney, as well as holding a bigger Write Here event during November, to help get you OUT of your office, and in the company of other writers. More details of these events to come. If you’d like to create your own meet-up, our forums (under ‘groups’) can help you do that too.
NaNoWriMo also have fantastic leaders in each state and region, who organize meet-ups and gatherings. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of meeting fellow writers, and talking out your work.
You might be registered with NaNoWriMo officially, and you may already have done some planning. If this is the first you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo but you’re still keen to participate, that’s great too! Whatever stage you’re at, we’re looking forward to hearing about your work. On Wednesday, we’ll also be checking in with a bunch of writers about to start their NaNoWriMo projects and seeing what great things they’ve got planned.
Over on the forums we’ve started a NaNoWriMo thread, and we invite you to share with us the answers to three important planning questions:
- What will you be writing in November?
- What have you done to plan your work?
- What routines are you going to implement during November?
I can’t wait to hear about your project. Geoff and I are cheering for you, and here to help!
To tell us about your NaNoWriMo project and experience, head to the forums.