Monday, November 3, 2014

On Monday, November 03, 2014 by Adria J. Cimino in
It’s you against the clock. Your mission: Write a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month.

Will you be victorious if you make it to the end with a couple hundred pages under your arm? It depends on your long-term goals. If you’re signing up because this sounds like a fun challenge and you have always dreamed of writing, then focus on those rules, write as much as possible and sprint toward the finish line!

The Right Way To Do NaNoWriMo
Photo credit: J. Paxon Reyes / Foter / CC BY-NC

But if you are hoping to build a career as an author, another strategy will bring you a much richer victory…

So how can a writer get the most out of National Novel Writing Month?

DON’T be obsessed by word count. Put quality before quantity. Everyone is different, of course. But in my personal experience and experience working with other writers, an obsession with word count combined with a tight deadline often equals that big enemy: writer’s block! If you write a few pages of promising material that will eventually result in a quality short story or full-length novel, you will be much better off than if you produce thousands of words that fall flat.

DON’T think you must write the next Great American Novel and that it will be published by a major publishing house. I’m not saying this to be pessimistic, but to free you of unnecessary pressure. This should be a first step. Chances are, anything you produce in a short period of time will benefit greatly if you set it aside and return to it months later. In most cases, very experienced and established writers take years to produce a novel – so you’re in good company!

DON’T compare yourself to others. Sure, more than 300,000 people met the challenge last year. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t even be telling you that. After all, it isn’t important. Whether one person or one million people produce the target word count, it won’t bring you any closer to or farther from publication. Writing isn’t a team sport, but an individual activity. Compete against yourself. Strive to become a better writer than you were a few years ago. Aim to produce your best and forget about everyone else.

DO focus on what you love: writing! This is probably the best reason to sign up for the challenge. And this really applies to anyone who participates: career writers and those who view it as a hobby. We all love to write or we wouldn’t be here writing on/reading the Velvet Morning Press blog. So participating in the novel writing month should make us happy. If it doesn’t: Stop, take a break and return only when the inspiration resurfaces!

DO set aside regular writing time for yourself. Like most of you, I have to juggle writing with various other activities/work. Another great thing about National Novel Writing Month is it encourages us to set aside regular writing time. My advice is: Find a time of day or night that works best for you, commit to it and use this month to get into a routine. Ideally, you can continue this routine – or at least part of it – once the challenge is over.

I have to admit, as someone who takes months and even years to write a novel, I used to sneer at National Novel Writing Month. But my attitude has changed. I realize that there is something in the event for everyone who loves writing. In my opinion, if you truly want to build a career as an author, you will win the novel writing month challenge if you grow as a writer. And that has nothing to do with word count.