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5 Ways to Modify NaNoWriMo

If writing an entire novel in November isn't your style, don't fret! Editor Tiffany Luckey shares five ways to modify NaNoWriMo to suit your writing goals and make November a successful month.

It’s November, and that means many writers are well into their (first? second? 12th?) NaNoWriMo experience. But for many other writers, crafting a 50,000-word novel in 30 days is daunting, and they’d rather write a book over a span of a few months (or years), rather than just one.

If you fall in the latter, you can still use the month of November to your advantage. Here are five ways to modify your NaNoWriMo experience:

1. Write short stories. I began writing a novel during NaNoWriMo three years ago and made it to Day 14 before giving up (because I may or may not have almost passed out—and I may or may not be joking about that). I managed to craft a 23,000-word story. While the story makes absolutely no sense (seriously, it’s basically just words strewn together in somewhat coherent sentences), at least I wrote something. This year, I’m using that incident as motivation to write short stories instead of a novel during NaNoWriMo. (So far, I’ve written one story, and I’ve started on a second one. Go me.) This is a good way for writers to craft fiction stories without the pressure of writing a complete first draft of a novel. Maybe instead of a 50,000 manuscript, how about two 25,000-word stories, three 1,600-word stories, or a 30,000-word novella?

2. Write journal/diary/blog entries. Ever wanted to start a blog, or even get back in the habit of journaling? NaNoWriMo is a great time to do so if you aren’t ready to pen a full-length book (whether fiction or nonfiction). There are plenty of free blogging sites such as WordPress.com and Blogger.com to get you started. Or, you can go old school and simply use pen and paper. Whatever you choose, use this time to do some personal writing.

5 Ways to Modify NaNoWriMo

3. Write a query to a magazine. Queries are important to landing magazine assignments, so use NaNoWriMo to craft the perfect one. You can also use this time to write a complete article if you have an idea, available resources, and have done your research on said article idea.

4. Outline. If you’re a stickler for using an outline to help you pen a novel, use NaNoWriMo to write one. Then, use another month (say, January or February, after the holidays) to write a first draft with the notes/outline you created in November.

5. Rewrite and revise. Ugh. I don’t know too many writers who don’t dread this stage in the writing process, but it’s a necessary evil. If you have a completed draft and don’t want to use NaNoWriMo to write another one, use this time to revise the one you’ve already written. Keep in mind, though, that after you’ve rewritten and revised your manuscript, and before submitting it to agents or publishers, it’s a good idea to have someone else (another writer, or, better yet, a professional editor) critique the newest version of your draft.

Whether you plan to write a full novel, or do one of the above modifications, use NaNoWriMo to simply do what you love to do best: write.

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NaNoWriMo Prep Bundle

Writer's Digest has created a lot of content designed to help writers be successful in National Novel Writing Month, so we've packaged it together to ensure you are ready to write starting November 1 (and beyond). To support NaNoWriMo, Writer's Digest is giving 30% of sales back to the nonprofit organization.

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