NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write 50K words in 30 days. May sound intimidating, but as long as you put down 1667 words per day, you are golden. And you write for your blog regularly, so you're probably up for the challenge.
At first, understandably, I thought I would not participate this year.
I've done NaNo many years and only won 3 times. It's very stressful, particularly toward the end, and it's time-consuming. So when I thought about where I am right now - starting my small business - it doesn't really fit with trying to be a novelist.
But it doesn't have to be a novel! Some people use NaNo to write their ebooks.
Say you want to write 3 short ebooks in 30 days. Might sound ambitious - what with the research and everything - but if people can write 1 million words in 30 days (the unicorns of the NaNoWriMo world), you can write 3 ebooks, no problem.
I'm going to do exactly this during the month of November. You with me?
Here's how I imagine the whole thing going down:
1. Pick 3 topics you're passionate & knowledgeable about.
If you pick a topic you only like, but you know nothing about, it's going to be difficult. Conversely, if you pick a topic you know everything about but have no passion for, it's going to be dull. If we're going to do this, we must make it easy for ourselves.
So spend some time jotting down ideas for ebooks. Or if you want, you can do just one ebook in the month of November. Or a novel. Sky's the limit! The point is to write. Moreover, it's to create the habit to write every day. There are many people who have created that habit, and they are usually successful and productive published authors.
Once you have that habit, blogging and publishing with be a breeze.
2. Pick a method for brainstorming chapters.
I like Pat Flynn's method. Basically, you use sticky notes (yay!) to organize your thoughts into an ebook. It's fast, simple, and fun. Watch this video to understand it.
Some people write off the seat of their pants, but I've learned that you must first determine what kind of writer you are - do you feel better when you have an outline or do you like to improvise? If you're going to write so many words and you probably won't have enough time to change your mind, an outline might work better.
Personally, I like having an outline and improvising the chapters themselves. However, I will sometimes follow a formula if I think it will help the reader out. (I'm using an example -> explanation -> exercise for The Free Guide to Striking Out.)
Whatever you decide, don't skip this step. Having the skeleton ready for November will save you time and energy, so you'll be free to create during November.
3. Pick the tools and set the times.
Another thing that will help you on your NaNo adventure is picking the tools you'll use and setting the times you'll write. And don't think for a second this will stifle your creative genius - we all know that constrictions free up space for creativity.
If you're an organizational freak like me, I recommend Scrivener or Evernote. They will allow you to group your chapters and content, and move it around when needed. For the actual writing, you know what works for you - Word or Google Docs or Medium drafts. Finally, there are all kinds of tools that will:inspire, help, and motivate you to go through NaNoWriMo, and luckily for you, I have collected them all on Product Hunt.
(And check out this very weird, very cool tool, which only allows you to see one letter at a time. The best part is: you can't edit as you go.)
Even more important than the tools you'll use are the times you'll write! If you wait to "get inspired", it will probably never happen. I've waited for the muse many years before I took matters in my own hands, and now I write daily. Yep, EVERY DAY.
Once you condition your muse to show up, you can write whenever you want.
4. Have fun in November!
And by fun I mean:
You'll start off great, maybe even write more words than you intended. When you're ahead, you'll think you're on top of the world. Slowly, you'll get lazy or busy, and you'll fall behind. You'll get some strange sort of block or carpal tunnel, where you'll be convinced you can't write any more, but it's only the middle of the month! Finally, you'll get over it and plow through... or you'll give up, which I won't let you do. You're a winner!
Ahem, I got a little carried away. But I'm serious. I've done NaNo many years and I know where people go wrong - they start strong, get cocky, and eventually lose steam. Remember: NaNoWriMo is not a sprint, it's a marathon. (tweet it)
As long as you do 1667 words every day, you'll win the race - slow and steady.
(If you're like me and you want to go FAST, you can, just bear in mind this will get you tired faster. Sometimes it pays off to control your instincts.)
5. What's next?
After November you can edit and sell your book and enjoy the money coming in. The point of this challenge is not to make money, but it would be nice, wouldn't it?
One particular service I like is Gumroad - that way you can sell your book directly to your target audience. You can also sell your books on Amazon, even though you won't make a lot of money that way. But you can be strategic about it - Mariah suggests to sell a part of your book cheap on Amazon, then sell it full price on your website. That way, you get some extra eyes from Amazon and still manage to make money off it.
Finally, promoting your book will not be an easy feat. I personally like giveaways and Goodreads, but that's a topic for a separate blog post.
So, are you in?
Who's doing this with me? I want a show of comments! :)