A couple of my writing students have asked me about glorious NaNoWriMo, in which you write a novel in a month.
They wanted to know whether it was “worth the effort”. I told them that for them, no, it wasn’t worth it. They’re not playing around, they want to make money. Neither has written a novel before. Even at 50K words, a novel can be hard to manage. By “manage” — I mean end up with something that’s worth publishing, and is likely to produce an income.
If you want to make money from your writing, investing a month and writing 50K words without knowing what you’ll do at the end of it is (probably) a mistake.
It all depends on your goals for your writing. Of course, if you just want to have fun, and explore your creativity, go for it — NaNoWriMo will teach you a lot, about yourself, and your writing.
Will NaNoWriMo Help You to Achieve Your Goals for Your Writing?
That’s the big question. Both of my students have financial goals they need to meet. To “win” NaNoWriMo, you need to write 50K words in 31 days. That’s around 1,600 words a day. On average, I can write 1,500 words of first draft material in an hour. So theoretically, it’s only an hour out of my (and your) day.
However, writing takes energy. Time really is money, for a writer. If you’re making $100 per hour, you’re investing $3,100 in NaNoWriMo. Is that a wise investment for you, at this time?
Let’s look at some tips which will help to ensure that NaNoWriMo is worth the effort for you, if you’re taking the plunge. 🙂
1. Create a Publication Plan
You’ve decide to go ahead with NaNoWriMo. I have one word for you: plan. You know that I’m big on planning. You may not know that when it comes to fiction, I’m a pantser by nature. So planning fiction doesn’t come easily to me. However, it needs to be done.
Come up with a story-starter, and plan your scenes.
In addition, decide where and how you’ll publish. Think about things like: is this book the start of a series? Could you serialize it? How will it affect your Amazon catalogue? Who will edit it? Who will do the cover? Etc.
2. Create a Promotions Plan (and Start Promoting Now)
Yep. Plan that now. Create a sales page for your upcoming book, and start promoting it, with a mailing list.
3. Get Creative, Have Fun (Drop Your Inhibitions)
I write fiction first thing in the morning. I can’t relax after the day has started, and I’m staring at my schedule. Fiction is all about emotion — feelings. You live with each character. Find ways to drop yourself into your story, so that you feel it.
Fiction isn’t “writing” in the sense that you worry about word use etc. That comes much later. FEEL IT is the best advice I can give you. 🙂
4. Schedule Your Writing
Decide when you’ll do your writing stint. First thing in the morning? After dinner? In your lunch hour? Jot it into your calendar.
5. Know Your Conflicts, and Your Ending
Before NaNoWriMo starts, know:
- Who your characters are, and what they want;
- Who’ll stop them getting it?
- Your setting, and some of your locations;
- Your ending. (Vital.)
A little planning won’t kill your spontaneity. It makes it more likely that you’ll end up with $50K words which are a story, rather than a bunch of characters in search of one.
Whether you’ve written a novel before or not, NaNoWriMo can be a wonderful experience. It’s up to you to make it worth the effort. 🙂
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You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels.More info →
Updated on: October 11, 2016
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