Ah, mid-October, that beautiful time of pumpkin spice lattes and…panic? My friends, welcome to the two weeks before NaNoWriMo. The air is crackling with the promise of blank pages and undiscovered worlds. If you’re anything like me though, there’s probably a mixture of dread and anticipation twisting up your stomach as the days until November 1st dwindle away.
But Sarah, what even is NaNoWriMo? Oh…just National Novel Writing Month, this ridiculous thing where writers decide they want to write 50,000 words in a single month. Do we all suffer from mass hysteria and delusion? Maybe. Do we all break down at least once during the month? Probably.
Is it worth it?
One of the best things about NaNoWriMo is the sense of community. You are not alone in your panic. You are not alone in your excitement. There is a whole swarm of writers just waiting to celebrate your highs and commiserate your lows with you. But to really benefit from NaNoWriMo community, you have to be willing to engage. So, here are a few tricks and tips that will help you make the most out of the NaNoWriMo community:
Go to a local meet-up
It can be tempting to think of NaNoWriMo as that thing you do alone with a laptop in the corner of a coffee shop, but that doesn’t have to be the case! Municipal Liaisons are responsible for planning gatherings all around the world during November. There are fun events like transit write-ins, or (if you live in San Francisco), the enviously awesome Night of Writing Dangerously. If you’re craving some company while you try to sprint your way to 50,000 words, head to NaNoWriMo’s Regions page to find a meet-up near you. Maybe you’ll still be writing on your laptop in the corner of a coffee shop, but hey, at least you’ll have a few other people to cry with while you’re wading through the sagging middle of your manuscript.
Use the forums
The NaNoWriMo forums are a place of creativity and solace, of inspiration and commiseration. When you’re approaching the 30k mark and need to be talked down from deleting everything, head over to NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul forum for a pep-talk. When you need some help working out the symptoms of poison in your fantasy world, head over to the Worldbuilding forum to brainstorm with other writers. If you don’t live near a local meet-up hub, your NaNoWriMo experience doesn’t need to be lonely. Spend some time on the forums and meet some new online writer friends. There are more quirks and intricacies to the forums than I can mention here, so don’t be afraid to explore them for yourself! Just don’t get so lost in their depths that you forget to write your novel.
Add writing buddies
Writing Buddies are friends you can add to your NaNoWriMo profile. You can see their word count updates and they can see yours. It’s a great way to stay motivated and accountable throughout the month. When you find a friend at a local meet up or interact with someone on the forums, make sure to add them as a buddy for that extra boost of motivation. (Don’t forget to add me and Carly too!)
Participate in word sprints and word crawls
Okay, let’s break out the definitions here. Word sprints are when you write as fast as you can for a pre-set amount of time. You might be competing against other people to see who can write the most or maybe just trying to beat your personal best. Word sprints are great for silencing your inner editor (a must during NaNoWriMo) and getting past writer’s block as you force yourself to just follow the scene whether it wants to take you. Head over to the Word Sprints forum to find an active one or use the Word Sprints Tracker to run one yourself! Make sure to say hi to your fellow sprinters too and cheer on their progress!
Word crawls bring together a collection of word sprints and other challenges together to keep things interesting and break up that 50,000 word behemoth goal into more manageable chunks. My personal favourites are the Harry Potter and Pokémon crawls, but there are themed ones for almost every fandom. Take a stroll through the Word Crawls forum to find one that works for you. Word crawls are a great way to meet new friends, so post your results on the forum to connect with other writers participating in the same crawl!
Engage on Twitter and other social medias!
Social media adds a whole new dimension to NaNoWriMo. Now, you can engage with writers on the platform of your choosing. Share a photo of your writing set-up on Instagram! Tweet out your wordcount to stay accountable! Share a Pinterest board for your novel aesthetic! Make sure you follow NaNoWriMo on all of these platforms too. They’re fantastic at running word sprints and offering advice all throughout November on their social media!
There you have it! NaNoWriMo is challenging and fun, and it can be even better when you step out of your comfort zone and engage a little bit. Sure, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel…but wouldn’t that be more fun if you made some friends along the way too? Carly and I will both be participating in NaNoWriMo, so if you need a friendly voice, add us as writing buddies and check in with us on Twitter! We’ll be tweeting out our word count every few days because let’s be real, we all need that accountability.
Did we miss your favourite way to connect during NaNoWriMo? Hit us up on social media or comment below to share your own tips and tricks (seriously…we need all the help we’re going to get if we’re going to write 50k in one month).