NaNoWriMo: 3 Tips For Writing a Novel in a Month

Shield-Nano-Side-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiRes 4At the end of last month I decided to use this year’s NaNoWriMo as an impetus to finish the romance I’ve been working on — or at least make some decent progress on it. Before National Novel Writing Month even got underway I ran into a snag. I heard back from my editor about another book, and he needed me to go over a few small queries within a few days, and I happened to be going away for the weekend. I managed to get the queries answered in time, but over the past week I’ve developed a few practical tips for actually getting a significant amount of writing done.

  • Leave the House–When I was writing the aforementioned book (you know, the one I had to answer queries about) I would try to work at home, which has a dedicated office. But it just wasn’t working for me. I needed to get away from the house. Away from the cats who want to lay on my keyboard, and the dog who seems to be able to tell time and stares at me with a look that says, “It’s after 5 o’clock, time to call it quits!” So, I would head out to a coffee shop (usually the one in my local book store), order a chai latte, and sit down to work. My most successful NaNoWriMo moments have been in that same coffee shop.
  • Don’t Forget to Charge Your Battery–This is not a metaphor. I am not going to suggest you do some yoga to get your creative juices flowing (though, walking has been shown to enhance creativity). If you aren’t going to be working at home, where you have exclusive claim to all the outlets, you need to remember to charge your laptop battery before you head out. There were at least a few times where I did not, and I have been sorry.
  • Don’t Edit–I don’t always follow my own advice. I edit all day, it’s hard to stop. When I’m stuck in my own writing, I go back and start adding, subtracting, and rewriting. But if you actually expect to finish a novel in an entire month, there’s just no way you can waste time on editing. Besides, editing is not really the point of NaNoWriMo, right? Just get the words on the page. You can spend December editing.

These tips can only help set you up for success. The truth is, writing an entire novel in a month is not easy. At times it will feel practically impossible. The only way to make it happen, is to just do it.

The Road to Romance

I’ve always thought it would be fun to write a romance novel. I don’t really read these books, but something about them makes me think I could learn a lot from writing one. They are notoriously formulaic, and writers have to adhere to very strict standards in order to be successful. Something about writing a book “by the numbers” seem like an exercise in discipline.

I have a tendency to “wing it” when I’m writing. I get a spark of an idea and I just go from there without any kind of roadmap–which leads to a lot of dead ends. If I was going to embark on this project, I thought, I should make it as structured as possible. To that end, I started a blog about it: The Road to RomanceContinue reading