5 Ways to Work on Your Book in November (Besides NaNoWriMo)
Every October, you probably start hearing chatter online (and possibly in your inbox) that NaNoWriMo is coming. National Novel Writing Month is held every November. The goal is simple: write 50,000 words of a novel in one month. You’re not worrying about editing or revising. It’s just about getting the words on your paper (or more likely, your screen). If you make it to the finish line with your 50,000 words written, you win NaNoWriMo.
Confession: I’ve joined NaNoWriMo more than once.
I’ve never won. Or even come close.
If you are joining NaNoWriMo this year, there is a wealth of information out there for you. First and foremost, check out the official site. There are articles, forums, and local groups (that will be online this year). You will not lack for inspiration.
But I’d like to talk to those of us who aren’t participating this year. The . . NoNaNoWriMos? Uh, maybe we won’t call ourselves that.
What do you do if the thought of NaNoWriMo is simply too much for you this year, for whatever reason? What if you’re overwhelmed or unprepared already, and the thought of adding 50,000 words in thirty days is enough to make you laugh hysterically? What if you’re a picture book writer (*does math* *brain explodes*)?
So for those of us who won’t be committing to writing 1,667 words per day, here are some suggestions.
1. Research your next book.
Writers don’t have just one idea. In fact, the more you work on one project, the more you usually want to distract yourself and work on a different book (or two or three). So take this time to research one of them. Maybe it’s historical fiction and you need to research the time period. Maybe your setting is somewhere you’ve never been before. Maybe you’re writing a biography of someone you know some information about but not enough to write your book. Do that research now.
2. Read a craft book.
There are many choices out there. My picks for kidlit would be Writing Irresistible Kidlit and The Magic Words. If you want to read one more about writing in general, try Save the Cat! Writes a Novel or Story Genius.
3. Outline your next book.
You’ve done your research, and you’re thisclose to writing. Create an outline that includes information about your characters, your setting, and your worldbuilding too.
Try something different. If you write picture books, can you think of an idea for a chapter book you’d like to try? If you write middle grade, can you tell a complete story in 600 words?
4. Make a plan to finish the book you’ve already started.
You outlined, you prepped, you started a book . . . and then you got stuck. Or life happened. Or both.
Look at your schedule for the next month and block off some time to get started again. (I’m not talking about two hours here. Fifteen minutes at a time is valid too.) How many days a week can you commit to writing? If you’re in the U.S., how many days will you have to write during Thanksgiving week?
If you don’t finish in November, it’s not the end of the world. But try to up your word count this month.
5. Revise a book you’ve already written (after you’ve given your eyes a break).
If you’ve followed me for a while, you may have heard me say that you need to give your eyes a break from your writing. Is there something on your laptop or your phone or printed out that you wrote a while ago? Are you ready to look it over with fresh eyes?
Dig through your files to find that story, and then reread the whole manuscript. Make notes of where it seems to move slowly, where something doesn’t make sense, where you have an idea of a way to improve what’s already there.
And then start revising.
BONUS for the picture book authors: Write one book a week. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, write one book each day in November. (Remember, these are rough drafts!)
Go through your notes or list of story ideas and pick one out each week. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just try. Maybe you’ll end up revising it a few months from now.
What are your writing plans for November?