It’s November.

Is it just me, or was November designed to be the most stressful month of the year? Halloween is such a fun holiday, but fast-forward twenty-four hours and all the big-box retailers start blasting Christmas carols like they’re trying to break up a hostage crisis.

How can you convince your boss to give you time off for Thanksgiving? What side dish are you going to bring this year? (the Tofu casserole, from last year, went over like lead balloon) Then there’s Black Friday…

Do you really want to risk life and limb for a thirty dollar Fitbit?

And, as if all of that isn’t enough, if you’re a writer you have NaNoWriMo to worry about, too. No need to fret, though. You can make it through this turkey strewn gauntlet! And, while I’ve got no cure for the holiday blues I might be able to help you with your writing goals.

In that vein, here are five tips to help you with NaNoWriMo.

What is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is a portmanteau- a combination of words meaning National Novel Writing Month. Have you always wanted to write a novel? You’ve had the plot laid out in your mind for years, you know all the characters’ names and backstories, you even sketched out the cover art?But, you’ve never actually put a pen to paper? Well, November is the month to finally start writing!

The objective of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight November 30th. That averages to 1,667 words a day. You write your novel using your own materials and upload your word count over at NaNoWriMo.org. Sixteen-hundred words a day means you have to do some serious writing, so there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Write. Don’t edit.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to complete your first draft. If there’s one thing that any writer knows it’s this- first drafts are shit. And they’re supposed to be. If you spend a lot of time reading what you’ve written then you can forget about getting your word daily count in.

So, write, and write and just keep writing. Don’t worry about grammar, or plot holes, or whether or not you like your protagonist. Just get the words onto paper. You can edit in January.

Make writing your top priority. Everyday.

November is a busy month. We’ve already established that, but if you want to reach your goal of 50,000 words then you have to make writing a priority. That means for this month, and maybe only this month, writing is your primary concern.

How much time does it take to write 1,667 words? Two hours? Maybe three? Then that’s the amount of time you need to devote every day. That’s tough I know, but art demands sacrifice. If you’re really committed to writing your novel than you may need to pull a few late nights.

Sure, some things will fall into neglect. Your career, your social life, your personal hygiene, but December is just around the corner. You’ll have your novel finished, maybe a few apologies to make, but everything will be back to normal.

Engage with the writing community.

The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that it brings writers together. You’re not the only one struggling to hit that 50,000-word count. There are plenty of people who know the pain of the blank page, and this is your chance to connect with them. Check out the NaNoWriMo forum to connect with like-minded writers!

Make friends, offer to edit other people’s work. All that good karma will come back when you start shopping that novel around.

Ignore the haters.

If you’ve ever read this blog then you know that I love writing. But I would never call myself a writer. Not in public anyway. To do so would only invite irritating questions like:

“You’re a writer? What have you ever written?”

“I don’t know. A lot of stuff. This blog, which I write anonymously. Shut up!”

The point is writing, like a lot of creative endeavors may leave you open to some ridicule from the trolls and bottom-dwellers.

Writing, or painting, or knitting, or woodworking, or playing softball, or whatever it is you love to do, these are not just hobbies. They’re passions.

Writing is a passion. November is the month for you to indulge in your passion. Ignore the naysayers. So what if your responsibilities take a backseat for a month? Put aside your guilt. Get those 50,000 words on paper!

Enter to win prizes from NaNoWriMo sponsors

Did you know that there are a ton of companies that sponsor NaNoWriMo every year? They’re dying to hear from people like you and they are willing to give away their products for free! So head over to the NaNoWriMo Sponsor page to find exclusive Wrimo offers!

So there you have it. Five tips to help you through NaNoWriMo.

Ultimately, National Novel Writing Month is just a tool, and a tool is only as good as the craftsman who wields it. So take your craft seriously. In the end, you probably won’t have the next Great American Novel, but you will have a starting point.