Although quite well known among people who write on social networks, not everyone is familiar with the NANOWRIMO challenge. I dedicate this article to you today because it can be very interesting (and fun!) And above all very useful to start a project or give it the final push of 50,000 words. There are even those who write a complete novel thanks to him.
And just for you, I will stop for a moment to explain what it is and then I will take 8 essential STEPS to prepare for Nanowrimo and get all its juice. Let's go there!
WHAT IS THE BLESSED NANOWRIMO ?
It is a challenge for writers that consists of trying to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Its name comes from NA tional NO vel WRI ting MO nth (National Novel Writing Month).
Chris Batty, a writer from San Francisco was its creator, in 1999, when he brought together 21 writers for this challenge. The number was increasing and, with the arrival of social networks, it became an online and international initiative. It currently brings together tens of thousands of authors who, each at home, intend to achieve the challenge.
Be careful: it is an individual challenge, the prize is simply to achieve it (and even if you do not reach that figure, but you write 20,000 or 30,000 words, it will have already served you well).
The philosophy is simple: it is based on setting a goal for yourself at the same time as a group of people to encourage you to achieve it. Write 1666 words every day, and keep moving at the same pace as the others (while you can). You can sign up on the Nanowrimo website (in English) where you can write down the words you write each day, see your progress, etc.
And you can also share the words you have written on Twitter or in a writing group dedicated to this challenge, such as our Portaldelescritor group.
IT MAY BE USEFUL IF ...
You have an idea that you can't decide to start and you want to start it once and for all
To recover an abandoned idea and finish it
To give a good push to a project started (or not started)
Remember that it doesn't have to be a novel: there are people who write stories, articles ...
AND IT WILL NOT BE USEFUL IF ...
If you want to correct an already finished or almost finished text: Nanowrimo is based on the number of words. The idea is to create a LOT of QUANTITY to, once the challenge is over, REVIEW AFTER, cut, rewrite.
If you don't know what to write about: surely you are going to get less out of it, since this challenge is about advancing the narrative.
If you stop to review each sentence: In this challenge, this is done only at the end.
If on November 1 you are going to sit down and start writing 1,666 words a day, it is important that you be as clear as possible about WHAT you are going to write. If you start without knowing it, it is very likely that in two or three days you will give up. And we don't want that, do we?
So my advice is to outline, in two or three short sentences, what the novel or book you want to write will be about. To be more specific still: try to define in that short synopsis.
WHO: protagonist / s of your story. Include names and age, for example, Antonio, 41 years old, and Lara, 44.
WHAT: what is the problem or challenge you are facing. For example, Antonio loses his job and his house, or Lara suddenly realizes that he has supernatural powers.
WHEN, WHERE: time and place in which the story happens. It is not the same if Antonio loses his house in the current crisis than in the postwar years. And for Lara, it will not be the same to realize that she has powers in today's Madrid than in the Moscow of the Russian Revolution.
HOW: how does your protagonist decide to face this challenge (which will mark the knot of your story). It is not the same if Antonio decides to overcome his crisis by emigrating to the United States as if he decides to face it by robbing a bank. This will give you the way forward for the knot of your story.
WHY: As far as possible, it is very good if you know why that story calls you if you know why it is important for you to tell it. Sometimes you don't find out until you've gotten pretty far in writing, but that detail will be essential and will help you make all kinds of decisions about your story.
If you have an idea, try outlining that synopsis BEFORE the Nanowrimo starts.
If you have several, you can do it with all of them and see which one has more possibilities.
If you can't think of anything, remember that in our FREE APP FOR WRITERS you have an idea generator with which you can get hundreds of thousands of ideas for realistic stories, fantasy, science fiction, black genre, etc ... Click on the image to download it to your mobile.
Rituals have something magical about them, something that helped us to create a habit in a simple and even fun way. And what is a "ritual"? Basically, it is about repeating a series of elements or circumstances each time we go to write. For example:
-Choose an hour and always try to respect that schedule.
-Choose a place, as inspiring as possible or where we are not disturbed. (If you can't at home, it could be a nearby cafeteria, a library ...). Always write in that place.
-Choose other elements that favor your comfort or creativity and try to repeat them every writing day: have tea/coffee, put on music, put your desk in order briefly, take a short walk before writing ...
Our brain is an animal of habit: it loves routines. If you always write at eight in the afternoon, in the same cafeteria, with music and headphones and with your tea (something I did for more than a year, for example), after a few days it will be enough that you feel At the table, put on the music and sip your tea for inspiration. Magic? No, rituals!
That's it: tell everyone. Tell your friends, family, roommates, friends, and acquaintances from social networks that you are going to participate in Nanowrimo. Tell them what your challenge is and even let them know what your daily writing schedule is.
Why? Very easy. Because most likely they will encourage you to do it. They will ask you. They will send you encouragement. And if they see that it is your time to write and you are not doing it, they may even pressure you a little to do it.
Even if you start a ghostwriting agency from an idea without really knowing where you are going, NaNoWriMo can help you advance your journey, and even explore possible paths and possibilities. If you don't like any of them later, you stop following them and go back so that your protagonists take a different path, and keep writing! Remember that the important thing is the AMOUNT and not stopping.
Now, if you want to get the most out of the NaNoWriMo, the ideal would be for you to spend some time outlining the plot of your story. It can be before November begins (it would be ideal) or, if not, on one of the days of the first week (since the beginning is what we usually have the clearest of everything).
You don't have to invent all the steps and turns of your story either, but it would be nice if you at least define at least 2 or 3 important events that will take place in the setting of your story; when the main conflict arrives, at least 4 or 5 of the obstacles that the protagonists will have to face in the knot and much better still if you are already clear on the climax (the moment when your protagonists are worse and it seems that they will not achieve your goal) and the outcome (how it all ends).
The more you advance, the better. And remember: you don't have to delineate the entire plot, but if you open something along the way that will be a long way off so you don't get lost so much and can write more "useful" words in the Nanowrimo challenge.
Something that can happen very easily in that marathon that is Nanowrimo is that you get blocked, that you don't know how to continue the story.
I mentioned the first alternative before: don't stop. If that path that the protagonists have taken does not satisfy you, go back and try something different. And keep writing.
Another option may be to stop and spend an "extra" time asking yourself questions about your story that can help you unravel the reason for this blockage. A good part of the braking may have to do with the fact that, although you like the story, and it catches your attention, you don't know why it catches your attention, or what you mean by it.
You can then take a moment to read this article on my blog and try to answer those questions, which can shed light on the darkness of the road:
Another good option if at some point you get stuck and don't know how to continue is to dig a little deeper into your characters. Where do they come from? Why are they the way they are? What do they want deep down? What are the motivations for your actions?
In the same way as the plot, you can think about them and work on them a bit before starting Nanowrimo in November, or spend extra time to get to know them better. I leave you some articles of mine that can help you (there are many more) and a downloadable form that you can fill out to know them much better.
And what would be great is for you to develop the evolution of the main character, which I describe in one of my super-posts. Then you will have a much clearer path towards which the novel is headed.
In addition, you can even take advantage of the 1666 words of a day to write diary extracts of that character or letters to another character ... Then you may or may not use them in the novel; but it will not be wasted time since it will help you to get to know that character better and, therefore, to advance with a firmer step in the novel.
I commented at the beginning that precisely part of the grace of Nanowrimo is that it is carried out by thousands of people at the same time. The "pressure" (thus in quotes, because it is positive pressure, to motivate you) and seeing the progress of others is part of the engine that fuels this initiative, and its guarantee of success.
Why not make the most of it?
Find a local group, or on social networks, to join: there you can go sharing your achievements, or asking questions, and seeing how others are progressing encourages a lot to continue striving as well.
At Portaldelescritor, the portal for writing courses and services that I run, we have a Nanowrimo FACEBOOK GROUP in which you can participate. But surely there are many more, and also on Twitter or other networks.
In addition, one-day physical meetings are also usually organized in different cities that you can go to. There you will meet other participants in this challenge and you will be with them writing for hours. They are usually in cafeterias, libraries, or social centers.
Finally, I leave you this trick that can help you not get discouraged and keep going for the whole month: set some prizes and reward yourself every time you achieve a goal.
They can be small prizes each day at the end of your word quota, or when you reach different "milestones", for example, every 5,000 words. Or a grand prize at the end if you hit 50,000.
The prizes can be whatever you want: from a piece of cake (not recommended, that yes, as a daily prize ), a whim that you have been wanting to acquire for a long time, ebooks or books that you are excited to have ... even-eliminating the economic element of the equation- a walk, an afternoon of rest, a cultural visit, or a time with friends. There are as many prize possibilities as there are people: you know what excites you the most and what can make you get on with it and continue with the challenge until the end.
Finally, I don't want to end this article without reminding you that NOTHING HAPPENS IF YOU DO NOT ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL If instead of reaching 50,000 you only write 27,000… well, great! There are already 27,000 words that you have managed to advance thanks to Nanowrimo and that were not there. And if there are only 6,000: well, nothing, this challenge has already served you to start a project or to give a little push.
It is not about crushing and blaming yourself (never that!), But about taking advantage of the momentum of this initiative to give a boost to your novel project. And if you also get it, congratulations!
You already tell me if you have decided to join and how you are doing. Much courage!
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