In less than one week, NaNoWriMo will begin. What is NaNoWriMo? It’s thirty days of fun while you write-by-the-seat of your pants. The goal? To write a 175 page (50,000) word novel by midnight, November 30.
What started out with only 21 participants back in 1999 has grown to over 160,000 participants worldwide. You can read more about the history of NaNoWriMo here. Why would you want to subject yourself to trying to write a 50,000 word novel in a month? For any number of reasons. To have fun, to stretch your creative muscles, to see if you can do it, to get the first draft of a novel done.
The reasons for doing NaNoWriMo are as numerous as the participants.
So, if you think you’re interested in doing NaNoWriMo 2010, here are some suggestions, tools and resources to get you started and to keep you going through the month.
First, if you haven’t already, sign up at the NaNo website. There is a ton of information at the website, and I would suggest exploring it in order to not only get your questions answered, but to find out what’s available. Try to do so before November 1st because, trust me, you’re going to be too busy writing to fully explore it.
If you can, try to hook up with someone who’s a NaNoWriMo veteran. There are a lot of us out there. Talking with someone who’s already done NaNoWriMo can make the transition into the madness that is NaNo much easier.
If that’s not possible, definitely make use of the NaNo forums. People are very helpful on the forums. We’re all in this insanity together, after all.
To help you get indoctrinated into NaNo, check out the links below.
Some companies are offering special offers for those who are participating in Nano.
The Pep Talks, written by Chris Batty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, and a stellar list of authors, are great way to keep yourself inspired. Plus check out the NaNo Pep Talk Archives.
In order to “win” NaNo, you should be writing around 1666 words a day. Depending upon who you are and what your circumstances are, those 1666 words can seem like a cakewalk or like the Sahara Desert and you’ve gotta cross that wide expanse every single day.
And when I say cakewalk, there are some people who get their 50,000 words written within days, even hours, of the start date. Now, that’s fine and all, but NaNoWriMo is not a race. Or at least it shouldn’t be IMHO.
What it is a chance, first of all, to have some fun. And if you’re not having fun, well, it’s going to be chore and, what’s the point of that. But to each his own.
You may also run across some people who are going to treat NaNoWriMo with the grim seriousness of an impending heart attack. And that’s fine, if that’s the way they want to roll. But I do it for the fun as much as to accomplish whatever goal I’ve set.
For example, this year I want to finish the first draft of a paranormal suspense novel I’ve been itching to write for some time now. It’s a goal I very much intend to take seriously, but I also want NaNo 2010 to be an enjoyable and fun journey of discovery.
And I hope it’s that way for you too. So here are some resources that could prove helpful to you in November.
At the NaNoFiMo (National Novel Finish Month) website you’ll find charts that can be very helpful when you’re stuck, for example, for a name for a character, a setting or, as this example shows, traits for your characters.
The Seventh Sanctum is a website that has a an overabundance of generators. So, for example, let’s say you’re writing a fantasy novel for NaNo. By using the generators at the website, you can generate a list of spells to case, armor for your characters to wear, settings for them to explore. Sure, some of the are kinda silly, but you never know. They may spark an idea that you can use.
At my website, I’ve put together a number of research links that you can use, whether you’re writing fantasy, science fiction, mysteries or historicals.
The NaNo Forums are the great places to go. Not only if you have questions about NaNo itself, but if you have questions about anything. There are forums devoted to different genres, such as Romance, Erotica, Historicals, etc. There are forums where you can hear about al kinds of gadgets, spreadsheets, software, etc., that people are using while they are doing NaNo. And there are groups centered around different age groups and interests.
During the month of October, Paperback Writer is doing what she calls NaNoWriMo Wednesday. Definitely check her blog out for information, tips and resources for NaNo.
I use tarot cards not only to brainstorm and plan out my stories, but for whenever I’m stuck writing a scene or coming up with a plot point or a character.
Here’s the link to a recap of a Tarot and Writing workshop I did at Wiscon, a feminist science fiction convention, this past May. (And watch for a similar workshop to come here at the How To Write Shop.)
A book that is very helpful if you want to use Tarot during NaNo is Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner.
And if you don’t have a tarot deck, or you’re looking for one just for NaNo, the website Aeclectic Tarot is the place to check out.
These are books that I recommend you make use of before, during and after NaNo.
No Plot? No Problem! is written by Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo. In it he offers tips and suggestions specific to NaNo.
The No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit
is the kit for the No Plot? No Problem book. It contains the book, stickers and assorted other things to get you through November. –
Book in a Month by Victoria Schmidt is a hands-on book with charts galore that guides you through the process of writing a book in a month. It’s not specific to NaNo, so you can use it whenever.
Victoria also has a Yahoo group that’s been running for a few years and has over a 1,000 members. They start over each month, so if you want to use the group to help you get through Nano, stop by and sign up.
First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Weisner- Another book that offers tools and techniques to help you get through NaNo.
The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall – This book is helpful for those who want to start planning for NaNo before November 1st. It can also prove useful during NaNo and after November is over, when you’re starting to rewrite.
The Nighttime Novelist by Joseph Bates. This book was recently published. I have a copy and have started reading it. So far, it’s been very helpful. It may be too basic for more experienced writers, but for those who are writing a novel for the first time, I highly recommend it.
If possible, try not to do NaNo alone. Find a partner or a group. The times when I’ve “won” NaNo, it was when I made it a point to get out and meet up with others who were also doing NaNo. We participated in what were called write-ins, which is where you and one other person, or a group of Wrimos, meet at a library, coffee shop, restaurant, bookstore, wherever and write. It’s not only a chance to hook up and share war stories about NaNo, but the energy that comes off being around others who are also writing is electrifying.
If you’re looking for others in your area who are also doing, NaNoWriMo check out the Regional Lounges.
If you find that your muse has taken a hike when you most need her (or him), check out some of these pages for fun things to do.
Get a web badge for your website, blog, Facebook page, etc. It lets others know you’re Wrimoing. And the more people who know you are NaNoing, the more likely you’re be motivated to get those words written.
Check out the NaNo store for NaNo goodies such as t-shirts, coffee cups. Notebooks, etc.
Listen to Pandora Radio, which allows you to create a listening queue of music specific to your NaNo project.
Watch a movie that’s similar to your NaNo project. Or watch a movie so far removed from your NaNo project, they shouldn’t even be in the same universe.
What I’ve just shared in this article, however, is the top of the iceberg when it comes to tips, tools and tricks to get you through NaNo. There’s more out there. Just Google (or use your favorite search engine) to fine even more information about having fun and being successful with NaNoWriMo.
Actually, if you have any tips, tools or tricks to share, please do so by commenting below.
So, join us. It’s crazy, but it’s also a lot of fun.
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Jenna, thanks for the great tips and wonderful blog. Your resource page is beyond awesome! How did you ever find all those sites? Thanks for making it so easy for us. See you at NaNo!
You’re welcome, Kathy. They’re things and tips I’ve picked up since doing Nana over the years. Glad they were of use.
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