NaNoWriMo is a self-enforced challenge for writers anywhere and everywhere to write 50 000 words in the month of November. Designed to get heads down and ideas flowing, NaNoWriMo is an annual event that can bring both joy and a slight slither of pain to your friendly neighbourhood novelist. So with November fast approaching here are some handy hints on NaNoWriMo.

First things first

Sleep is important. Socialising is important. Work, university, and school are all important. Don’t let the challenge turn you into an anti-social zombie. Don’t forget to get those 7.5 hours of sleep. Make sure you take a break to talk to people who aren’t citizens of your imagination. Certainly don’t forget that you have a life before and after NaNoWriMo. Perhaps most importantly, remember that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deems 400 milligrams per day a safe quantity of caffeine to be consumed.

Winning isn’t everything

Yes, it’s a challenge. Yes, winning does earn you prizes, bragging rights, and that word ‘winner’ synonymous with your name. However, NaNoWriMo is about writing. It is about getting ideas flowing, setting a goal and striving to achieve it. If you achieve the goal, then not only do you feel fantastic for creating those 50 000 words but you get the title of ‘winner’ as an added bonus. Don’t be the person who wins for the sake of winning. You don’t want to be a winner of NaNoWriMo at the expense of writing the word ‘fish’ 49 999 times with ‘whale’ thrown in the middle for something different. Winning isn’t everything. Don’t let the ideal of victory distract you from the spirit of the challenge. Don’t repeat yourself 50 000 times, or submit something you’ve written prior to the 1st of November. It is an activity in writing, so it’s not actually winning if you don’t do any writing.

Don’t stress the numbers

It’s a bit of a strange concept for a challenge centred around reaching a set number. But 50 000 words is a mighty big value and can be daunting, especially for first-time participants. However, it’s only 1667 words a day. Some days you can’t write, some days you can only get 400 or 500 words out. But don’t stress it because other days you’ll write 2000 or 3000, maybe even 5000. If you can’t reach a daily goal, don’t freak out you’ll make up for it elsewhere and ‘winning isn’t everything’. There is nothing wrong with a participant trophy when you get the all important words of a story out of it.

Editing isn’t important

That statement broke the hearts of grammar enthusiasts everywhere. But once again, NaNoWriMo is about writing, and writing, and writing. Although it might be cringe-worthy, it’s quicker to write unedited work. Your NaNoWriMo manuscript is sub draft one, unlikely to be read by anyone but yourself until better refined. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece and it certainly doesn’t need to be grammatically perfect. Don’t fret about grammar, spelling, or formatting— it can distract you. Instead of writing you will go back and start trying to edit. Turn off that editing part of your brain until December and just write.

Write what you want to write

Lastly, write what you feel like writing. If you want to write an anthology, write an anthology. If you want to write fan-fiction, then write fan-fiction. Scripts, novels, whatever you want to write, write it. Genre doesn’t matter. The format doesn’t matter. Your ideas and getting them on paper matters. If you want, build an in depth plan before November. Do it. If planning isn’t for you, make it up as you go along. It’s your story, your choice and if you can write 50 000 words about it, then do it.

NaNoWriMo 2016 kicks off on the 1st of November. Grab the healthy portion of caffeine, find some writing buddies and give 50 000 in a month a try. You can set up a profile and find more information about NaNoWriMo on the official website. Good luck novelists.