Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making your own NaNoWriMo!

Hello blog world! I've missed you so! The second year of law school has been pretty intense. But I come to you now from the other side--of fall semester at least, which is the hardest (allegedly). And that means I'm officially HALFWAY done with law school! Definite hooray.

So as you may have guessed, that whole law school thing did not leave me terribly much time to write last semester. And it definitely did not allow me the time to do NaNoWriMo. I'm guessing most of you bookish types already know what NaNo is, but for those who don't, it's National Novel Writing Month, where people from all over the world commit to writing at least 50K words in a month for a new novel.

Which is awesome. 

But you know what's not awesome? Finals. Law school finals. And as it happens, they just happen to fall in that wonderful November/December time-frame, making NaNo all but impossible. Possible perhaps, but inadvisable for sure.

So that brings me to this post. Because realistically, not all of us can do NaNo. There are other things going on that just get in the way sometimes or make November an inconvenient month. But that doesn't mean we can't make our own NaNo!

Because the truth is you don't need to wait until November to start writing that book! NaNo is awesome for the support and community, but you can easily find great support out there during the other 11 months of the year.

So here are My Steps to Making Your Own NaNoWriMo!:

1. Plan your NaNo Timeline
For some, this may be as simple as saying "March is going to be my NaNo and I'm going to write every single day and end up with an awesome 50K new novel! What what!" But for others, the law school people, the working and traveling, etc. etc. the schedule may be more of a challenge. But sit down and try to put 30 days on your calendar that you're going to commit to writing--it could be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, you just need to get your butt in a chair (and log off of Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook...etc.) and WRITE.

2. Now that you know WHEN you're going to write, think about WHAT you're going to write
Plan out your idea in your head, in an outline, on post-it notes or iPhone notes--anything. I usually don't put much down, and I definitely don't outline out the whole story in advance (but I know some people do and that really helps them!), but I usually capture little snippets and ideas, sentences, character names, sometimes even full chapters that come to me and I jot them down. It'll help to at least have some idea of where you're going even if you don't know all the details yet.

3. WRITE! And Track Your Progress!
There's really no way around it, you're going to have to sit down and write (which will eventually require getting off of allllll those social media sites and unplugging all the distractions). But that's the fun part! And while you're writing, track your progress so you can see just how well you're doing in reaching your NaNo goal. This could be as simple as keeping a note or excel spreadsheet with your word count each day or you could publish it on your blog or Tumblr to let everyone know how your progress is going. One of my best friends posted her daily writing updates on her Tumblr and it was great to see how she was progressing with her WIP and it also made ME want to write more as I saw her success!

4. Find that Support Group
Go on a writing retreat, meet critique partners online, join a local book club, find writerly friends. Do whatever it takes! Part of the allure of NaNo is having that community of people all over the world that are pursuing the same goal as you. They're there to bounce ideas off of, answer questions, and provide support. But you can also find these people who will support you and your writing in months other than November. It's always great to have people you can run a draft by and bounce ideas off of, so take time to form those relationships and find those people who will help you (and that you can help in return).

Keep going, keep going! Finish the draft and then CELEBRATE. You just wrote a NOVEL. That's kind of insane. :)

Once you're finished with your NaNo you will have a NOVEL. But it will probably be a really rough first draft version of a novel that will need lots of polishing over the coming months. This will be a long process, but in the end, your novel will be so much better than you ever knew when you started it. And it will be really freaking cool to say, yeah, I wrote a novel (or a second, or third) :). Trust.

If all else fails, try to clear your November schedule for the next year to jump in with the Official NaNoWriMo crew (but until then, keep writing...really)!

Hopefully I'll be able to join in the fun that is NaNo another year (post-law school finals)--I know so many people enjoy it and lots of published authors' books started out as NaNo Novels! How cool!

Have you done NaNoWriMo? Have you made your own NaNo? Share your NaNo and writing advice below!

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