Do you NaNoWriMo?

Who else has heard of NaNoWriMo? If you have yet to encounter it, this is your introduction to something that will take you nought to novel author in just 30 days.

NaNoWriMo, or the National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write a novel in just one month. Impossible you say, that’s what I thought and yet, all these years later, I have a growing collection of first drafts and an increased confidence that each one is better than the one from the year before.

NaNoWriMo is not just for amateurs. Many authors who stared in NaNoWriMo went on to be traditionally published. About 449 traditionally published books started in NaNoWriMo. And that’s just the ones they know about.

This year, participants will be inspired by weekly “pep talks” penned by published authors, including Roxane Gay, Kevin Kwan, Julie Murphy, and Grant Faulkner. NaNoWriMo will also provide participants access to mentorship from authors including Emily X. R. Pan, Mur Lafferty, and Jasmine Guillory.

A novel in a month?

A novel in a month. That does not seem possible. How do the NaNoWriMo folks do it?

The secret is not worrying and just getting stuff down on paper. The fact is that it is hundreds of times easier to fix an imperfect manuscript than it is to write a perfect one.

After that, it is just a case of doing a little math (or letting me do it for you). The target word count is 50,000 words. This is 1,667 words a day. Or about three to five typed pages. Which amounts to a page in the morning, one at lunch, another before tea and two more in the evening.

That’s not so hard right?

How to make NaNoWriMo even easier

There are many secrets, tips, and hacks to make NaNoWriMo even easier but here are three quick tips that will turn anyone into a novelist in just one month.

1. Tell everyone what you are doing

I cannot tell you how much more motivated I feel when I know that everyone is going to ask how my novel is going. That part of my brain that works very hard to avoid embarrassing me (the part that gets trumped by own idiot missteps) can work for you too. I find that I work very hard to keep on target when failure means everyone knowing about my failure.

As motivation hacks go, this one is huge.

2. Come up with a few ideas ahead of time

Nothing takes the pressure off like having a handle on the characters and settings for your story. You can find some tools to help build characters in our Facebook group. You can also get support in the forums, particularly the QnA for aspiring authors. There is a long-running thread with questions to ask in a mock interview with your main protagonist (lead character).

3. Break your story into 30 little chunks

Break your story up into 30 bite-sized chunks. Each of those, oh I don’t know but let’s call them chapters, can tell one part of the story.

This takes the pressure off because you will not need to ask yourself “what do I write today?” because you already have a plan.

Are you going to be doing NaNoWriMo?

Thanet Creative are planning to make Thanet much more NaNoWriMo freindly by holding write ins and supporting WriMos (participants) in our regular writing group events.

What’s stopping you becoming a novelist?

Don’t let Imposter Syndrome stop you

imposter syndrome

Impostor syndrome is that nagging feeling that you are really a “fraud” and do not deserve your success.

For us writers, that nagging doubt that we are “not really writers” can be crippling. At Thanet Creative we have been talking about imposter syndrome and how it affects us. Some of our writers expressed surprise that it was actually “a thing” but most of us have felt it at one time or another.

Impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achievers. somewhat ironically the more talented a person is the more likely they are to feel this way. The opposite of impostor syndrome is illusory superiority, a cognitive bias whereby individuals overestimate their own qualities and abilities, relative to others.

It could be said that worrying that you are not good enough is a positive thing as it can indicate that you are doing well. On the other hand, the mistaken belief that you are miles better than everyone else should be a red light but often is not.

This disparity in confidence is why mediocre people sometimes out-perform true geniuses. Sometimes a little confidence (even if it is somewhat unjustified) can make all the difference.

According to the Telegraph, impostor syndrome is particularly a problem for women. This could explain why more men than women come to Thanet Creative Writers events. I would love to say that I had all the answers but I don’t. What I can do is tell you that no matter how good or bad you think you might be, just keep writing and you will improve.

In a truly ironic twist of fate, writing therapy is one of the best ways to overcome impostor syndrome. As a writer, if you are worried that you are not good enough, the answer may be to simply do more writing until the nagging doubt gets bored and leaves.

As writers, it is important to remember that if you write, then you are a writer. Something I try to remind myself and other writers on a regular basis.

A couple of years ago Forbes ran a story recommending that you stop comparing yourself to others and own your success. That is some good advice. Remember that if you write, then you are already a writer. So what good can come of negative comparisons?

Qz.com goes one step further, suggesting that if you don’t experience impostor syndrome at least some of the time, then there is a danger that you really are an impostor and don’t realise it. Impostor syndrome, they say, is a sign of success. They might be right.

For more advice, Writers Unboxed have an article on “how to overcome imposter syndrome as a writer” and Writers Hub have a page that advises “how to keep writing despite feeling like a fraud“. Jill Hackett, an author and writing coach, writes about overcoming imposter syndrome and making the transition from being a writer to being an author.

You are not alone in feeling like a fake. The secret is to just keep writing anyway.

Over to you.

  • Do you feel like a fraud?
  • Have you ever been the victim of imposter syndrome?
  • How did you cope and what kept you going?