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NaNoWriMo 2023

Over half a million people across the globe sit down to take part in NaNoWriMo each year. The challenge, accidentally founded in 1999 by Chris Baty, encourages writers of all ages to sit down each day and write a total of 50,000 words in the month of November. The purpose of this is to encourage writers to learn more, set good writing habits, and ultimately accomplish their writing goal.


NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel-Writing Month. In the 30 days, the goal is to reach 50,000 words in your writing, or whatever word count you may set for yourself. The task sounds daunting, but actually 40% of participants complete the challenge. Not bad for half a million writers.


This year, I have decided to partake in NaNoWriMo. Starting in October (known as "Preptober" by the writing enthusiasts), I began planning my novel and the things that would go alongside it. But NaNoWriMo is for everybody, so I invite YOU to join me!


In this post, we will cover the basic planning you can do, the writing process, and some helpful tips to encourage you as you write alongside me (and half a million others!) in NaNoWriMo 2023:




PLANNING FOR NANOWRIMO


It's all good and well to say you're going to do NaNoWriMo, but it's something completely different to actually commit to it. However, thanks to the power of planning, we can make things a LOT easier.


I would suggest you use a notebook especially for NaNoWriMo23. It doesn't have to be anything fancy—any notebook is fine. Even an old one with enough space will do. Use this to jot down ALL your ideas (wacky or not) and to help you to organise what you're doing this month.


The planning stage is very important. Read on to find out some of my best tips to plan for NaNoWriMo23 and how you can plan like a pro!



Setting a Goal

Making a Goal for your NaNoWriMo novel project

The first thing you’ll need if you truly want to make the most of NaNoWriMo is to set yourself a goal; something you want to have achieved by the end of November.


The basic goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a novel—or just to write 50k words, which is the suitable length for novels ranging from Young Adult Fiction to Contemporary Adult (learn more about different genres). Of course, depending on what you’re writing, the word count may vary.


Don’t expect to finish the month having written 50,000 words. Yes, it is an excellent goal to start with, but if your writing project doesn’t suit the 50k, there’s no need to force that pressure on yourself. Consider your writing project and its unique and individual requirements when setting a goal. Most of all, don’t overthink it—simplicity is key.


50,000 words can be a good start. On average, that’s about 1,670 words a day. That could seem pretty easy…or really difficult—depending on how you think when it comes to writing and numbers. To help you out, I’ve simplified things for you to get an idea:


The average novel chapter has around 3,000–4,000 words.

The average 50,000-word novel has around 10-20 chapters.

One A4 page in Times New Roman font, size 12 and double-spaced, is approximately 250 words.


Let’s say you stick to the traditional NaNoWriMo 50,000-word challenge. You would write, on average, 6 pages per day, ending with 200 pages by the end of the month. Not bad!


The question is, can you live up to that standard you set yourself?

Can you live up to writing 50k words in a month— approximately 6 pages in Word a day?


Challenge yourself. Push yourself. Encourage yourself to write and write as much as you can during NaNoWriMo. But also be realistic. Don’t set a goal you ultimately can’t get close to achieving. Consider what is suitable for you and your writing project. Perhaps you’re only writing a short, 7-chapter story. In that case, there’s no way you’ll need to write 50,000 words.


Maybe a 10,000-word goal is good for you. If you’re not a number person, something like “10 chapters” can be a good goal.


For me, this is the first time I am committing to NaNoWriMo, so I intend to achieve that 50,000-word goal. A little ambitious, but I’m going to try it. Think of somewhere you’d like to be by the end of NaNoWriMo, and choose that as your goal. Remember to CHALLENGE yourself, but also be REALISTIC.


This is the secret to making a good goal for yourself.



Planning Your Novel

Planning your novel for NaNoWriMo 2023

It is significantly harder to write 50,000 words if you don’t have any idea of what you’re writing. You could end up floundering, waffling, or just writing sentences which may not make any sense, just for the sake of getting to 50k. Make sure you have some sort of plan so you can know exactly what you’re going to achieve.


So, writing 50,000 words is a good goal, but writing 50,000 words…of what?

Sure, they call it National NOVEL-Writing Month...but what exactly is your novel? Ask yourself:


“What is my novel about?”

“Why am I writing this novel/who is this novel for?”

“What inspired me to write this novel?”

“What is the basic idea of what happens in this novel?”


You need some idea of what you’re writing in order to make the most of NaNoWriMo. Without knowing your novel, without planning it, there isn’t going to be much for you to write, and thus you probably won’t reach your NaNoWriMo23 goal.


Some may ask, “What about the famous classical authors? Did they plan their novels?”


My response: most likely not. I’d be surprised if authors such as Beatrix Potter, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien planned their novels to the letter. Some of the bestselling classic novels were just written plainly as an idea came to the author’s mind. However, we do know they must have had some plan in their heads as to what they were going to write and how their stories would flow.


For example, Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien, records that his father told his children “a long story about a small being with furry feet”. We also know Tolkien wrote the first sentence of The Hobbit on a blank leaf of paper whilst correcting School Certificate papers. There would have been some planning done in J.R.R. Tolkien’s mind in order for him to create one of the highest-selling novel series and films of all time. Thror’s Map, for instance, is a clear example of the fact Tolkien clearly did some planning.


Be sure to plan what you’re going to write to some degree. Know what you’re going to write, and how the events in your novel will take place. When you start your writing, ask yourself the above questions.


Get your notebook and a pen and answer them under your NaNoWriMo goal. Then keep this handy so you always have something to go back to if you feel you're going off track or need a refresher. This will give you a clear understanding on what you're actually going to do to succeed in the NaNoWriMo challenge!



Outlining Your Novel (Pantser-Friendly)

Pantser-friendly Outlining your Novel for NaNoWriMo preptober

They say that there are two types of writers: the outliner and the pantser. Outliners are writers who excessively plan, plan, plan their stories and novels to record every tiny detail. Pantsers are writers who, without thinking, just jump right into the process and write their story as soon as the thought comes to their fingertips.


Both ways have their advantages…and also disadvantages. If you’re a pantser, you probably rolled your eyes when you read this section title. “Outlining? Eurgh!” Not many writers like it. As for me, I love outlining. I find it’s an excellent way to lay out my ideas on paper.


However, outlining a novel for NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be a dreadful, burdensome task. In fact, it can be really simple and quick if done well, whether you’re an outliner or a pantser.


I’m sure you’re familiar with the stereotypical primary school narrative outline:

Setting → Rising Action → Climax → Falling Action → Resolution.

In the author world, things can get a little more complicated (and the names get fancier). This is why a LOT of writers don’t like outlining. It doesn’t have to be like this, though.


When you’re preparing for NaNoWriMo, the outlining stage can be complicated and frustrating. So instead, write down just one question: “What happens in this story?

Don’t think of beginnings, ends, and the narrative outline. Just the middle.


What happens?


Go back and look at the questions in the Planning Your Novel section. THAT is your outline! If you’re a pantser, there you have it! You don’t need anything more than that. If you’re an outliner, feel free to add as much as you like!


Also challenge yourself, though. Sometimes my outlining can be a bit excessive. This NaNoWriMo, I am going to challenge myself. No more outlining—just writing from what I have already. Just let the pen take me wherever my imagination leads. I challenge you to do the same.



WRITING FOR NANOWRIMO



And now for the fun. Once 1st November arrives, NaNoWriMo will begin! Do you think you can make it to 50,000 words (or your alternative goal) by the end of the month?


As the challenge progresses and the month drags on, the zeal for writing the 50k could begin to dim like a dying flame. It is up to YOU to keep it alive until you reach that goal! In this chapter I will go over vital steps for keeping that flame alive, as well as some helpful tips to keep you itching to write at every opportunity.


Plus, I invite you to join me and write alongside me for NaNoWriMo! Continue reading to find out more!



Getting Started



There is no right or wrong way when it comes to writing. However, there are certain things to keep in mind, strategies to apply, and formats to use that will help you a LOT when you write.


Some people like the traditional feeling of pen on paper, whilst others prefer the ease of typing on a device—whether it’s a laptop, PC, or tablet. Personally, it depends on the occasion. I love putting pen to paper, but then again the ease of the undo button is extremely helpful.


If you’re looking for an easy way to record your word count, software like Microsoft Word and Google Docs are most certainly for you. With just a click of a button, you can see how many words you’re at. And, you get unlimited pages!


But that doesn’t mean pen and paper doesn’t work. Some writers—myself included—end up writing their novel on paper, and simply transcribing it to a document when they’re ready, refining and proofing each part as they go. (this ends up as a two-in-one: you’re writing up your novel and reviewing it as you transcribe it).


If you don’t like the idea of having to transcribe your ENTIRE novel to a doc to find where you’re at with your word count, there’s a simple method for you to figure out how many words you’ve written mathematically:


Count the number of words on one line and multiply by the amount of written lines on that page. Then just multiply that by the amount of pages you’ve written and you have an approximate word count!


It wouldn't be a bad idea to use a notebook, either. As I mentioned previously in the Planning for NaNoWriMo chapter, it is super helpful to have somewhere physical for you to jot down ALL your ideas and see your plans laid out on paper.


When getting started on your NaNoWriMo writing adventure, make sure you are prepared, and do what's comfortable for you. As you'll find out in the next section, enjoying and making the most of this month is the KEY to success.



Staying Zealous



One thing that a lot of writers struggle with during NaNoWriMo particularly is staying passionate about their writing project. After time, it can become burdensome and you may not have that zeal to write as you used to. This is the reason that many writers don’t manage to achieve, or even give up on, their 50,000-word goal. Thankfully, this is an easy problem to solve.


You don’t just want to enjoy your writing. You want to be excited about it. You want it to be such a thrill that you’re counting down the seconds until you can get back to your project. Such enthusiasm is what gets you to that 50k.


Getting excited may seem harder than it sounds. And you’re right. But it’s an easy problem to solve. Ask yourself:


What do you enjoy writing about?

What do you enjoy reading about?


If you’re writing about something you enjoy, you are going to enjoy what you’re writing. Why would you write something that you wouldn’t read yourself? It doesn’t make sense.


Also consider movies, TV shows, books, whatever entertainment you most enjoy. Make a list, if that helps, and take a look at what they all have in common. Themes, plot, settings, you’ll soon find a common thread running amongst them. Chances are, THIS is the very thing that you love most about them.


Add those same elements to your writing and your passion and excitement over your writing project will grow as you live through the story as it unfolds.



Writing it Your Way



Outliner or pantser, it can sometimes be difficult for writers to actually do the thing they set out to do—write. This can be from a lack of inspiration, excitement, or passion they once had. Another very important thing to remember when you’re writing is that it’s YOURS. This is YOUR project. No one can tell the story better than you, because YOU created it!


That is why I am going to “pantser” my way through NaNoWriMo. As much as I love my planning, it has prevented me from doing the very thing I set out to do—write the story! And we’ll see by the end of the month how I go.



FINAL WORDS



NaNoWriMo 2023 is going to be epic! I cannot wait to see where my writing may end up by the end of this challenge. From planning to outlining to writing, National Novel-Writing Month is a time of adventure, excitement, creativity, and new beginnings.


Are YOU going to write this NaNoWriMo? I hereby invite you to join and write alongside me as we embark on the challenge together! Visit the official NaNoWriMo website at www.nanowrimo.org to sign up for the challenge! Tag me (“Christopher J. Watt”) as a friend and let’s write together!


I have also officially launched my NaNoWriMo webpage! Can’t participate in this year’s challenge but want to track my writing progress? Visit the new addition at www.christopherjwattauthor.com/nanowrimo to view the day’s countdown and total words written.


 


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