How to Participate in NaNoWriMo (without really participating in NaNoWriMo)

It’s that time of year again. The time of great decision; to participate or not to participate in NaNoWriMo (aka, National Novel Writing Month). Personally, participating is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I had planned to use my free time in November to overhaul my latest WIP, “Moorhouse,” But fate had other plans, and I ended up in school again (not a biggie, I’m having fun doing my course). Given that I’m going back to school next year, chances are I won’t be able to do a full novel or second draft during the official NaNoWriMo period until 2017. Still, this writer-centered, month-long fest is too awesome to let go by  without some sort of celebration. That’s why I’ve come up with some ways to participate in the festivities (and maybe even get some quality writing time in) without having the pressure of having to actually commit to the full haul.

  1. Do a Mini “Write-a-Thon”: Here’s a fun fact about me: I’ve always wanted to participate in one of those 24-hour dance-a-thons. You Know? The type that they always had in the 1930’s during the Great Depression? (No? That’s okay! here’s a link if you’re curious: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_marathon). Anyway, if dancing the night away like Cinderella isn’t your jive, try a mini “write-a-thon.” Basically, shut yourself away for a certain amount of time and write like mad. It could be an extended shift (10 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours,whatever you want), till a certain time (midnight madness!), or as much as you can for an extended period, retreat style (a weekend or long weekend, starting early and ending late). Not keen on spending that much time alone? Invite some friends and make a party of it! The benefit of this is that you’ve devoted a certain amount of time to intensively concentrate on your work, guilt free. This saves the time of dedicating an hour a day, but having other things cut into that hour (turning on the computer, settling in, yada, yada), plus it’s super fun!
  2. Alternatively, maybe that’s just a little too much, all at once. Commit yourself to a certain amount of time each day and then quit after the time is up. This works best if you pick a time when you’re alert and keyed into writing, whether that’s morning or the graveyard shift, and if you ensure that you reserve your writing time for writing (not “research,” checking your email, making lattes, etc.). At least you’re fully engaging in your novel every day, which is something we don’t always make the time to do.
  3. Plot Your Novel: Don’t have time to write, but have a story nagging at the back of your mind? Plot it out! The entire thing. In writing. Maybe invest in one of those interactive templates. Just get to it! This will save you time for actually writing when you have time for it. Plus, take it from a pantser, plotting is, in itself, a lot of work. You’ll feel really proud and accomplished once your done!
  4. Support Others: If you really have no time to write, then have fun supporting others in their writing goals. Check out blogs, search out the hashtag for NaNoWriMo, leave comments. It’s fun, connects you to a writing community, and it gives you ideas for next year!

How about you? Any plans for National Novel Writing Month? Any tips? Leave a comment below!!

x, Emily

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