National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) runs throughout November each year, as a way to overcome the isolation of writing and get support from other novelists around the world.
With the target of writing a 50,000 word novel by 30 November, it’s open to anyone over the age of 13; in 2016 more than 380,000 people took part worldwide.
After you’ve set up a NaNoWriMo account on the website, you can announce the title and synopsis of your novel. You can’t write your novel on the site, but you can keep a daily tally of your word count and earn badges to mark your progress.
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And any time from 20 November 20 onwards, if you’ve hit the 50,000 word target you can upload your text into the word-count validator to check it.
To keep you inspired there’s a world map showing the word counts so far, along with tons of resources on the forums including “13 Prompts to Trigger Character Building“, “6 Tips to Transform from Master Procrastinator to Moderately Disciplined Writer” and “How to Write About What You Don’t Know“.
In the “No Plot? No Problem!” book there are exercises to help your writing process, and Pep talks from published authors. You can also chat to other writers on Facebook and Twitter, and attend online and real-world events: tweet chats, webcasts, and meet-ups in libraries and community spaces under Come Write In.
Here are our top five tips for a successful novel writing month:
Make a public commitment
The more people who know about your novel, the more support you’ll have from friends and family – plus you have the incentive to keep you going.
Plan, plan, plan
Use the advice on the NaNoWriMo website to organise your setting, the characters, what motivates them, your plot twists and conflicts. You can find guidance on getting started from Andy Weir (author of The Martian), tips on finding ideas from author Karin Tieback, and much more on the blog.
Be part of the NaNoWriMo community, both online and in your daily life. Writing shouldn’t be solitary, as you’ll benefit from the input and suggestions of other people.
Remember it’s only a first draft
The aim of novel writing month is to get as many words written as possible, so it won’t be your finished novel.
Join a word war
The NaNoWriMo team and volunteers run WordSprints on Twitter, giving you motivation to get through a chunk of your novel in the quickest time. And they tweet prompts and reminders to keep you going.