Greetings, traveler! Chances are, you’re reading this because you’ve decided to embark on the highly dangerous, highly caffeinated thirty-day whirlwind known as National Novel Writing Month. The goal? To write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. You may not even have an idea for a novel in this point in time. But never fear! This guide exists to divulge the secrets behind a successful month of noveling. Let the adventure begin!
- Establish your writing space. A coffeeshop is a good choice because the aroma of coffee beans and warm environment is good for kindling creative thought, and often prove to be a prime people watching locale. Libraries, parks, and places with large windows are all great writing spots as well.
- Make playlists for each of your characters. Someone’s music choices tell a lot about them. Do they think Ringo Starr is the best Beatle? Are they a hipster who refuses to listen to Arcade Fire’s newest album? Or do they listen to a song no one’s heard of on repeat because it reminds them of someone they’ve lost?
- Buy writing snacks. Writing fuel = the best kind of fuel! Buy an apocalypse-worthy supply of goldfish, espresso, and whatever other kinds of snacks help you write!
- Get all your laundry, work, and dishes done for November. If it doesn’t relate to your novel, there’s a good chance it won’t get done in November.
- Prepare rewards for every 10,000 words. Rewards at every 10,000 words will help you stay motivated.
- Create the cover art of your novel. This will help you get a feel for the tone of your novel. It also looks super fancy on your NaNoWriMo profile.
- Create a novel trailer. This is a just-for-fun activity that once again helps you get a feel for what kind of novel you’re writing, and it allows you to build a world to put your characters in. Also, it’s ridiculously fun.
- Write a motivational letter to yourself in mid-November. This letter is to be opened if, at any point during the thirty days, you feel like quitting. Pack every emotionally-charged, movie monologue-worthy pep talk phrase in this letter. Convince yourself why you must get to fifty thousand words!
- Re-read your favorite books before starting. They’ll help you remember what you love about great books, and some literary osmosis might take place. Once you figure out what you like about certain stories, you’ll be able to replicate those elements in your own work.
- Outline your novel. Why is this the last step? Because National Novel Writing Month is about writing with literary abandon. Outlines are great (and most definitely recommended) because they cut the work you have to do between the first and final drafts down by half. But if this is your first NaNoWriMo, it’s completely fine if you don’t have an outline. The goal of this month is to revel in the writing process.
Final Words of Wisdom
This is going to be my fifth year participating in National Novel Writing Month. I’ve won for the past four years and I know that nothing compares to day thirty of this furious adventure, where you type your fifty thousandth word, sit back, and realize that you have completed something you weren’t sure was possible.
November is about the joy of writing. November is about writing like the wind. November is about the overconsumption of espresso drinks. November is about pulling all nighters and wrestling with your plot holes and staring at blank pages and pushing yourself to write something, everyday.
November is about you, doing the impossible.
Now get out there and write your novel.