It’s that time of year again – beloved by some, feared by others, and irritating to a few. Yes, it’s NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month.

If this is the month you decide to get that project started, good for you! Everyone’s got a load of advice to give (including me; several years ago I posted daily NaNo advice over on Hodderscape; you can find (some) of the archives here.) but today I’d like to share a few important takeaway points:

  1. The most important rule when it comes to writing is to just do it. Don’t feel that you can’t start simply because you don’t have a full outline or know how the book will end. This is the ‘butt in chair’ principle and it’s really, really important. NaNo is all about teaching you the importance of discipline, of writing a bit every single day. It doesn’t have to be much and it doesn’t have to go anywhere. Just write!
  2. This is your first draft, so treat it as such: don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t agonise over your word-choice, your grammar, your punctuation, your spelling. Don’t get caught up in details. Leave notes to yourself (eg “what would Henry VIII eat for breakfast?”) rather than get distracted while you’re writing and start researching. Internet wormholes are fun, but they’ll tear you away from what you should be doing: getting things down on paper. Your second draft is when you get to go back and, you know, start filling in details and sorting out the dodgy bits.
  3. Line up a beta-reader. It can be agonising to share something as personal as a fiction project with a friend or family member, but it’s very important that you get solid, honest feedback on your work. Find someone you trust who’ll tell you what you’ve done well but who will be honest with you when something isn’t working. It’s best if they are a fan of the kind of book you’re writing, so that they can feed back to you as a reader of that genre as well as your loving and supportive friend.

Good luck, and we hope to see some of your NaNo projects in our submissions inboxes soon!



Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash