NaNoWriMo: Finding Time to Write Your Novel

A guest post from Hannah Douglas, one of our cool Columbus Press interns. 

Writing a novel can be an incredibly challenging endeavor, even more so if you’re trying to balance writing with other jobs you might have not to mention a personal life.

When author Samuel Snoek-Brown took on the task of writing the first draft of Hagridden, he said he had to find ways to set a schedule and keep himself motivated.

I’m a terribly undisciplined person, really, and I often have to trick myself into doing the work, and no trick has worked better than the friends or colleagues or editors waiting expectantly for me to finish,” Snoek-Brown wrote. “Even if they’re an illusion I conjure or their expectation is one I asked them to have.”

Noting that need for a sense of community, he said he found direction through his participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a nonprofit organization that allows writers to log their ongoing process of writing a novel with resources like community forums, progress tracking tools, and inspiration cues, to name a few.

Monitoring daily word counts and tracking my progress along an outline and setting aside designated writing times, these tasks were how I learned who I am as a writer and how I need to work in order to write something as prolonged and as intense as a novel,” He wrote. “I learned how to organize the work, how to sustain it over time, how to impose deadlines on myself and then meet them.”

As a writer, it can be hard to imagine writing 50,000 words of a book draft in a month. That’s an average of 1,667 words per day! Helpful writing tips and motivation are a must. Snoek-Brown received tips and shared some of his own on writing with NaNoWriMo.

For example, strive for 2,000 words per day, so that way, you’ll be there in no time. Or, instead of writing in a linear fashion, try writing the book out of order, such as the first chapter last, writing by each scene, write what inspires you when it inspires you, and so on. And, don’t give up hope if you miss a day or two or writing and think you won’t ever catch up!

When Snoek-Brown was looking back at his original thoughts for what the book what become and its length, he first imagined it too short, and later increased the word count/page count. He chronicled this journey through NaNoWriMo as well, and has continued to do so each year.

The beauty and joy of NaNoWriMo is that it allows us — or forces us — to write without rules, which means that as long as you’re writing and staying at least vaguely within the realm of your novel idea, you should be able to pound out 50,000 words by the end of the month,” he wrote.

Looking back, he said the first year participating in NaNoWriMo in 2009, was his most successful year. After all, his first crack at NaNoWriMo resulted in the first draft of Hagridden.

I wrote other books each November from 2010 to 2013,” he wrote. “Some I finished, some I haven’t finished yet. Some were irredeemably terrible, some still hold great promise.”

With this in mind, what might you (or someone you know) be able to accomplish through a first adventure with NaNoWriMo this November? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and don’t forget to purchase your copy of Hagridden, available through Amazon or the book’s website.