As we’re starting to gear up for NaNoWriMo this year, we’ve talked to some participants to get the inside scoop on how to best prepare for November. Today, NaNoWriMo participant Justine Dietz shares 10 tips she wishes she could have shared with her younger writing self:
1. You should be having fun.
I can’t stress this enough. Have fun writing! Forcing yourself to do something you should love ends up becoming frustrating. The writing gets worse and you won’t want to write anymore. Take time off! You’ll get back into it after a pause with a clearer and a healthier state of mind.
2. It’s okay to move on and come back to it later.
I was always scared about abandoning my writing projects. But that’s completely fine! Your mind needs variety, or you’ll feel over-saturated and burnt out. Soon enough you’ll want to write again, and before you know it, you’ll be writing more and better than ever!
3. Story ideas will come to you!
Forcing yourself to get those breathtaking ideas will not lead you to any—trust me, I used to worry so much about original ideas but never got anywhere worrying. Ideas will come to you, but when you least expect them. And while waiting, fanfiction is actually a great idea!
4. It’s okay to write fanfiction!
Fanfiction is an amazing opportunity to learn better writing. You get straight into the story and you simply add your own elements, until one day perhaps you write your whole own story from scratch! In any case, it doesn’t matter what you write, what’s important is that you write.
5. Your writing will get better.
When I look back to my first drafts of my first novel project I cringe, cry, and laugh at how badly it is written. Good writing only comes with practice and a lot of reading, especially in the general genre that you’re writing in.
6. Join NaNoWriMo!
When I first found out about NaNoWriMo, I thought it was for published authors, for adults who ‘knew what they were doing’. On the contrary, NaNoWriMo is for everyone, at any stage of life, from anywhere in the world. You’ll be surprised at how many write-in events take place in your vicinity! It’s the perfect place to make friends and be supported and therefore be really productive!
7. It’s okay to ask for help.
Problems? Plot-holes? You’re not alone. Especially when doing NaNoWriMo, there are so many people and forums out there that can assist you. Or you can even simply just ask a friend. Two brains are better than one. The more, the merrier!
8. Beta readers can be daunting, but they are worth it.
Odds are, your friends and family won’t bash your chapters. But do keep in mind that you’re not looking for appreciation, but for honesty. Beta readers will help you notice plot-holes or inconsistencies you’ve overlooked and generally help you make your story as best as it can be.
9. Don’t be afraid to press delete.
I was and still am much of a ‘word hoarder’. I can’t get myself to delete anything. But don’t be afraid to! I cut what I don’t want into another document so as to look back on the story’s history while being able to continue without hindrance the actual story. If it’s the word count that keeps you from getting it out, read on!
10. Don’t stress out too much over your word count.
Numbers have the power to take over your mind, and once you believe you’re even the slightest bit behind, it seems easier to just give up. So forget about the word count. You should be writing because you enjoy it, not because you want to write 50,000 words, right? It’s when you don’t care about the numbers that you suddenly reach 100,000 words without realizing it.
Justine Dietz is a third year University student studying English Literature and Visual Culture. She is a radio show host, musician, artist, poet, writer, and YouTuber. She has over twenty novels in the work with plans to publish two of them in the near future. Her favorite genres are young adult, fantasy and coming-of-age.