It’s hard to believe that in a week, I will be joining writers all over the world as we undergo the marathon that is National Novel Writing Month. For the uninitiated or those unaware this is our ‘Super Bowl’, if I’m allowed to a sports reference. While not working, sleeping, or otherwise occupied those participating sit with a laptop, or pen and paper, and churn out 50,000 words in 30 days. 

It is one of the most exciting and exhausting things a writer can do short of taking that finished 50,000 word project and pushing it to the length necessary for a first draft manuscript but that’s what we’re here for and I have been lucky to cross that number once and churn around almost 100,000 words in my last two Novembers alone. But the goal of this post isn’t to tell you about the past but maybe better prepare you for the month ahead so let’s get a little goal oriented: Warning Math Incoming!

The Breakdown

The month of November has 30 days which means if you want to ‘win’ and cross 50,000 words you have to write a minimum of 1,667 a day which is highly achievable but if you’re like me then you probably don’t have the time between a full time job or getting a good night sleep (I still don’t know what that really looks like) then you probably want to find a daily word goal that you’re comfortable with. 

Personally, I usually shoot between 1,800 and 2,000 words per day which in a perfect world will give me a buffer of between 4,000 and 10,000 words which with a 40 hour work week is more than I can ask for.

Some days you’ll do more and some days less but by tracking your progress and potential deficit you can stay on track to pass the finish line before the end of the month.

Keep Connected

This is less goal oriented and more mentally oriented. As someone with ADHD, this month gets to me and it can get to those that are neurotypical as well so make sure you stay connected through the forums on NaNoWriMo website, with your writing friends, or even through sharing your progress on social media. Without some outlet the writer’s blocks and ruts will feel like they’re sucking all the creative energy out of your writing session (okay maybe not that dramatic). Regardless of where you are in your project, having the support of other writers can make a substantial difference. Between NaNo’s I managed to make some new writing friend’s are incredibly supportive whether it’s liking posts or just sharing words of encouragement. The more you stay connected the more you’ll be able to push through the difficult parts and get across the finish line.

Keep A Resource List

This isn’t so much advice as a place for me to drop some of my best resources to share!

  • https://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/decades/ – Need a quick character name based on age? This breaks down the most popular names (at least in the US) by decade.
  • https://qjmartin.org/ – The Writer’s Everything is an amazing resource for form, structure, and everything in between. A one stop shop when your project doesn’t seem to be clicking as well as it should be.
  • Pen and Paper – Whether you’re a keyboard warrior or handwrite your projects, I always keep extra pages around just in case I have to scribble out dialogue or description when the finality of a blank word document becomes a little too much. I still use this trick to relax my eyes and churn out that extra 300 words that I’ve been agonizing over.
  • https://nanowrimo.org/ – The home of November NaNo comes complete with a place for you to announce your project, get involved in forums related to your project, and an embedded daily word tracker with all the math done for you. Just remember that each day is the total word count on the project as the site will give you your daily number once it is entered.

The month ahead may seem like an insurmountable chance but as someone who is going into their third I can say it’s possible and with all the prep, sleepless nights, and over abundance of caffeine this month is still one of the most productive and fulfilling experiences I have had as a writer. So let’s get down to it. Polish off those outlines, round out those character lists and settle in for the most exciting month on the Writing Calendar!

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