NaNo2020-Getting Started

National Novel Writing Month (Affectionately abbreviated as NaNoWriMo or NaNo) was started in 1999. It’s basically a challenge.

Can you write 50,000 words of a book in a single month?

Thanks to the huge amount of social support that writers can now get from others participating, it’s a GREAT way to try and write a book. If you sign up through the website, you can track your progress, celebrate your milestones, chat with other writers, and get all kinds of helpful tips along the way!

This year, my third doing NaNo, I’m planning on sort of blogging my way through the journey. I’m hoping to offer some helpful tips for anyone thinking about participating and helping in any way that I can!

First, some background

(also known as why the heck should you join me on this journey or WHAT DO I KNOW?)

  • I’ve written 10 full length novels. 
    • 5 of those are published (jump to the homepage of the blog to hook yourself up with a copy)
    • 2 of those are with betas right now and will be published ASAP
  • I’ve done NaNoWriMo 3 times (as I mentioned)
    • 2014 I “WON” NaNo by writing over 99,000 words on what was, at the time, called Royal Blood. This really really rough draft spent years in editing before it was broken into two books and was eventually published. Breaking Eselda hit shelves in 2018 and Redeeming Jordyn followed in 2019. 
    • 2015 I “FAILED” Nano by only writing about 16,000 words on 30 Days Without Wings. At some point in 2017 this project would be rekindled by my heart and finally be finished. It was published in 2018. 
    • 2019 I “WON” NaNo by writing over 50,000 words on my YAContemporary project. That project is now one of the finished but unpublished works I’m editing. At full length it is over 64,000 words. I officially finished zero drafting it in March of 2020 … which means it was done in time for me to get stuck in quarantine and everything to slow WWWAAAYYY down. So, it’ll be edited … eventually. 
  • Writing is hard work. But it’s hard work that I’ve done, hard work that I continue to do. So, that makes me a decent guide, I guess. 

Getting Started

Some of you may be thinking about jumping into NaNoWriMo again in 2020, some of you may be considering a first jump. Maybe you’ve never written a book. Maybe you’ve written one, but it took you forever and you’d like to try writing one in a month. Whatever the reason, if you’re thinking about joining … YOU SHOULD!

One things I’ve learned from all my successes or failures at NaNo is that it’s FUN TO TRY. Maybe you can’t write a book in a month … but you definitely can’t if you never try!

If you’re thinking about jumping in, you’ll need to know where to start.

Here are the planning steps I’m starting RIGHT NOW (in September) to get ready. 

  1. Get registered online so I have accountability and support. 
  2. Get buddies (also for accountability). If you’re doing NaNo this year, click “Get Buddies” and type in TShips so we can be buddies! If you’re starting a Group … let me know!
  3. Pick a project. I’ve learned in the past it’s best not to pick something I’ve already started. This didn’t go well in 2014 (although it looks like I did because of that word count). It led me to push on through something I wasn’t in love with. That meant when it came to editing I had to go back to the beginning of the almost 100,000 words and start again. SO FRUSTRATING. For me the best idea is usually to pick something I’ve thought about before but haven’t really dedicated any serious time to. Whatever you pick, WRITE IT DOWN. 
  4. Keep writing the ideas down. Seriously. That’s your entire job in September, to get a list. Thought about writing a pandemic journal? Write it down. Maybe you have a crazy fantasy idea about time-traveling turtles. Put it on the list. The magic basket that refills with fruit? Sure, why not. No idea is too weak for the list.
  5. In October, I’ll actually pick a project and start outlining my idea. For now, I let the ideas just be a list. Some years (like in 2015) I have only one idea on the list. Some years (2019) I have many (I had 4 that year to choose from). Let the list get long, we’ll deal with it later. 

That’s it for September planning, at least around here. 

So, tell me, are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? 

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