It’s November, and it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Although it was developed for people writing novels, many people use it to write nonfiction. You can even modify it to help you with your dissertation work. The general gist is that on November 1, people who decide to participate start working on writing a 50k-word novel by the end of the month. If you “officially” participate, there’s a website that you sign up with, where you can update your word count, get badges, and more – but lots of people use NaNoWriMo informally, to give their writing a jumpstart or provide them with a deadline.
If you decide to try NaNoWriMo, even informally, for any writing, here are some tips.
Think different. One of NaNo’s main features is the time crunch. It’s a month, which means time is tight, and there’s really no wiggle room for days of slacking or not feeling “inspired.” The goal is to churn out words – which can be a good thing. Just write. Put your butt in the chair and put words on the page. Write (and write and write) now, and edit and revise later. Don’t overanalyze your writing: just get it down. There will be plenty of time to revise, rewrite, and polish. This is a different way of thinking than most of us might be used to, but it can be freeing in many ways.
Plan. The time crunch also means that a plan is helpful – or even necessary. Figure out how many words you have to write per week to get to the 50k mark, and set a weekly goal. Outline what you’d like to do each week to give you a general map.
Dedication, not inspiration. How many times have you heard, or even said, that you needed to be “inspired” to write? That you needed SOMETHING? Nope. No time for that with NaNo. You only need dedication to show up, every day, and produce. Because the fact is, with any work, you won’t be inspired to work every day. You might hate every minute of it some days. But you still have to show up and do it. In fact, try to think of writing as your job, and protect that time accordingly.
Get support. Join a writing group or dissertation group. Tell friends and family about your plans for NaNo so they can check in or hold you accountable. Find others who are diving into their writing, even if they’re working on something different than you – I can guarantee you that you’ll still have plenty of common ground.
Do your research and reading. Whether you do this ahead of time or (if you have spare time) during the month, reading about writing large amounts in a short period of time can be helpful, as can books about the general craft of writing. Try Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days for a bunch of tips for fast writing. This blog post of ours lists some of our favorite books about academic writing.
Once you’re done NaNoWriMo, whether you’ve written a manuscript for a book or novel or made significant headway with your dissertation, Dissertation Editor can help! We can provide you with editing and formatting, as well as consultations to help you strengthen your material, make a plan for the next phase of your work, or even go over ways you might change your manuscript or talk through different ideas. Contact us today to see how we can be of assistance.