We’re staring down the back-end of 2017…
And you might already be feeling like the year is over, throw in the towel, give up, and try again in January. And while you’re at it, pass me another cookie.
What if you followed what novel writers have done for the last 19 years and turn November into a month-long sprint to get your book done. I’m talking about joining over 400,000 authors (who are writing novels) to put your head down and write 50,000 words in one month.
Yep, I’m talking about NaNoWriMo! That stands for National Novel Writing Month where every November, participants from around the world begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. The “rules” state that you can plan, outline, think, and research as much as you want in October, but on November 1, you start a brand-new novel with no words already written.
So get out a fresh Word document and put your fingers on the keys!
Writing a book is a great exercise in discipline, refining your thought processes, and creativity. Even if you have no desire to write a novel, November is a great month to do the writing you are interested in.
Normally in the third quarter of the year, I offer my 5-part group teleclass class – Brew Your Book Bootcamp – to help authors just like you get their books written. This year, because of the baby, I’m not taking any group students but I AM opening up a few spaces in my VIP work. You can apply to talk to me here (free and no obligation) to see if that’s a fit for you.
Otherwise, here are 5 steps so you can turn November into the month when you get your ideas out of your head, words onto paper, and get that first draft written!
1. Have a “plan”
You most likely have an idea about what book you want to write for your business. Start there! Unlike a novel which needs characters, plot, setting, mood, theme, etc. the book you need for your business has basic sections that are unique to the information you specialize in.
As you create this plan, jot down all your ideas for chapters, topics, and sub-topics. After you have a page of ideas, you’ll organize them into sections. Don’t think too much! Just get all your ideas down. This will become the “plan” for your book.
(This isn’t an outline! It’s a writing plan. I’ll explain more in step 4.)
2. Get it all out
My writing instructors used to call this “writing to silence the critic.” It’s when you just keep writing even if you know that you’re not making sense, contradicting yourself, missing steps, and most importantly, writing like crap!
NaNoWriMo isn’t a slow and steady marathon! It’s a sprint to write an insane amount of words in just thirty days.
So get it all out of your head and onto the page. Don’t worry about grammar, flow, or false starts. Keep writing. You do, however, want to write clearly enough that when you look at it later that you can follow along. So it’s not jotting down notes; it is sentences and paragraphs and *gasp* chapters. But don’t worry if you don’t know how to bridge from one topic to the next.
3. Write every day
The strategy is to break 50,000 words down into daily writing goals. This isn’t a marathon, it’s a sprint. But, unlike writing your term paper the night before it is due (or your blog article the day before you post it!) you can’t just catch up in the days before November 30th!
You may be able to catch up from a day (or two) off, but if you wait too long, the goal of 50,000 words will slip away. (Speaking from experience here!)
Daily Writing Goals
- If you write 5 days a week (starting Wednesday, November 1) you’ll need to write 2,273 words per day. (22 total writing days)
- If you write 6 days a week (including Saturday, November 4) you’ll need to write 1,923 words per day. (26 total writing days)
- If you write 7 days a week you’ll need to write 1,667 words per day. (30 total writing days)
And let’s face it, with your busy life and schedule (and the Thanksgiving holiday!) you’re unlikely to write every single day. Go ahead and plan some days off! And in that plan, make sure that you plan other days where you write more words to catch up.
Not every person who starts NaNoWriMo makes it to the 50,000 word finish line. And since you’ll most likely not be writing a novel, it will be tempting to let it slide and not work to complete the challenge. But think about this: if you write every week day in the month of November, that’s 22 days. Let’s say you ONLY write 1,000 words a day (about two pages). That’s 22,000 words that you didn’t have before!
4. Don’t publish it!
Yep, you heard me right. Whatever you come up with at the end of November DON’T PUBLISH IT.
At least, don’t publish it as is!
Too many writers, especially non-fiction writers, have the nasty habit of publishing too soon before the project is fully edited. And here, I don’t mean edited for grammar or consistency. I mean edited for THIS should be in the book; THIS shouldn’t.
I once read a very interesting non-fiction “business” book. The author had a wealth to say on a variety of different topics. But that was the problem. There were at least four different main topics and each one shouldn’t get a section. It should get its own book! The topics were loosely tied together under the umbrella of the author’s personal life story but each lost its impact because it wasn’t given enough depth and breadth.
Remember a big lesson from the Book Idea Workbook: One book – One topic!
Here’s a personal example:
Once you have a “draft,” go over it to see what sections naturally go together, what has to be there, and what can be cut.
5. Decide what to do next
From this one big book where you have packed in every bit of your knowledge, expertise, love, and passion, decide what you’ll do with all the content you’ve created. You’ll probably find that at least one book is in there. A book with a tight focus on one aspect of your knowledge that doesn’t give away the farm!
You’ll also probably see 2-3 smaller books that might be ready to stand on their own or be expanded into larger books.
And I know you’ll have dozens of articles for blog posts, newsletters, or to submit to publications.
Then do it!
This is a bonus step: DO something with what you’ve created. It’s not enough to just realize that your 50,000 word book exists, you need to do something with it!
What are your writing goals for November? Will you participate in a business book 50,000 word sprint?
If you would like to learn more about NaNoWriMo or to sign up to participate, here is the official website as well as the social media links:
And I’m sure you’re wondering if I’M participating… not this year. With a new baby, I’m focusing my efforts on enjoying every word I get to write. (Especially when he’s on a ride with his dad!) But I really don’t need any added mommy stress!
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