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3 NaNoWriMo-Inspired Lessons for Everyday Writing

We’re a little over a week into National Novel Writing Month now and the competition is in full swing. We’re glad to hear that so far everyone who’s done our NaNoWriMo check-in has yet to turn into a zombie and that you’re meeting your writing goals. Keep up the great work!

But what about those us who decided not to take a shot at the 50,000 word marathon this year? What can we learn from NaNoWriMo that can help us with our writing outside of the competition?

We’ve put together a quick list of three NaNoWriMo features that can turn us all into better writers:

1. The motivation of word count goals.

Fifty thousand words in 30 days is a huge chunk of writing that makes a lot of writers uncomfortable. But reasonable writing goals are an excellent means of staying focused and motivated to complete your work. Take a close look at your schedule and be really honest about the amount of time you can dedicate to writing (we know it’s not as much time as we’d like, but that’s life!) and how much you can realistically write in that time period. Duolit reader Susan Herman suggested using 750words.com to figure out your writing pace and set your goals accordingly (great idea, Susan!). Once you reach your set goal, reward yourself accordingly!

Read more about this subject in our eCourse, How NOT to Write a Book.

2. Write scenes, not stories.

When you are just starting your writing project, it’s easier to focus on scripting scenes instead of entire stories. The tie-ins and transitions can be worked in later. Just to generate your first manuscript to edit and manipulate, consider using this technique that a lot of NaNoWriMo competitors employ. Create an outline of the primary scenes that will unfold between your characters and focus on writing each scene. What’s the setting? What are the characters’ feelings about what’s happening in the scene? How does their body language reflect these feelings? You’ll be surprised how quickly you can generate a huge chunk of your book’s content.

3. Enjoy the encouragement of the writing community.

One of my favorite parts of NaNoWriMo is the camaraderie of the participants. It’s not about competing with each other, it’s about competing against time, distractions and impossibility to do something amazing. Everyone encourages each other, shares battle scars and celebrates every achievement. You’ll find if you engage with the writing community on Twitter and Facebook that this is just the nature of writers as a whole. That’s one of the things we’ve found with Duolit–there are thousands of writers out there and the internet has given us all a place to meet, get to know each other, and share our experiences. That friendship and encouragement goes a long way on the tough days when you need someone to say, “If I can do it, you can do it!”

We hope these tips can help you guys bring the best parts of NaNoWriMo into your daily writing lives, even if you’re not a part of the competition this year. Keep plugging away and your writing dreams will become a reality!

Later days,

– Shannon

  • I really appreciate the opportunity to participate in this writing challenge. Deadlines are our friends!

  • Oh, I use 750 Words for writing too!