This is my fifth year participating in the National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. In case you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo, it’s a worldwide challenge to spend the month of November writing at least 50,000 words of a novel. According to the official stats, during this past year, 351,489 people participated and 40,423 actually met the 50,000-word goal. There’s also a young writers program, and last year 80,137 students and educators participated, while 19,979 met their goals.
During my past times doing NaNoWriMo, I’ve focused on generating the first 50,000 (or more) words of a much longer novel. So I got 50 to 60 percent of the way through a draft and then had to finish off the rest of the novel after the end of November. That’s worked pretty well for me, because my first drafts tend to come in around 100,000 to 120,000 words.
This year, though, I’m trying three new things.
1. More Advanced Planning
My first time out, I participated in NaNoWriMo almost accidentally. I had coincidentally begun working on a new book during the first week of November, and a friend asked me, “Are you doing that NaNoWriMo thing?” Well, I wasn’t but when I found out about the challenge, I jumped right in. (That’s why my stats for 2012 are incomplete. I didn’t even sign up until the second week of October.)
I tend to be a “pantser,” working by the seat of my pants to come up with my story and characters as I go. In 2014, I truly had no idea what my book was going to be about until I began writing it. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes not so much.
This year, I’m doing something different. I’m using a modified version of Randy Ingermanson’s “Snowflake Method” to assemble my ideas before November 1. It’s really helping to focus my thoughts and hammer my story into a shape I can work with. If you’re not familiar with the Snowflake Method, I recommend that you check it out.
2. A Full Draft, No Partials
Another big change is that this year I’m planning to write an entire novel, beginning to end. My previous NaNo projects were all young adult science fiction. This year I’m attempting a straight contemporary young adult novel, so 70,000 words is right in the ballpark in terms of target length. So what I’m hoping is that I start on page 1 on 11/1, and write “The End” on 11/30. Last year I managed to crank out 68,176 words, so I think this is well within the realm of what I can do.
It really helps that I have family and friends who support me as I do this.
3. National Novel Writing and Running Month
So this past January I got on the road again, getting back into the habit of running regularly. Since then, I’ve run over a thousand miles, including four half-marathons. (I’ll run my fifth half-marathon of the year on the first Saturday of NaNoWriMo.) One thing I’ve found is that my running really helps my writing. Apparently I’m not the only person who’s noticed this link:
So this year, I’m turning NaNoWriMo into NaNoWriRunMo. Now, a lot of people have compared NaNoWriMo to a marathon, so that inspired me. In addition to meeting the minimum of 50,000 words during the month of November, I’m going to also commit to running at least a marathon distance (26.2 miles) each week during the month.
This gest tricky, since there are five November days in the first week of November, and only four November days in the last week of the month. So the goal will be at least 5/7ths of a marathon (18.7 miles) for week one and 4/7ths of a marthon (15.0 miles) during week five.
Week 1: Run at least 18.7 miles, Tue-Sat
Week 2: Run at least 26.2 miles, Sun-Sat
Week 3: Run at least 26.2 miles, Sun-Sat
Week 4: Run at least 26.2 miles, Sun-Sat
Week 5: Run at least 15.0 miles, Sun-Wed
Total NaNoWriRunMo Mileage: 112.3 miles (Average 3.74 miles per day)
Anyone with me?