NaNoWriMo comes to an end once more

Congratulations to all of my fellow NaNoWriMoErs who hit their target this year.

Commiserations if you didn’t reach your target, but don’t worry. I failed for far too many years to mention before finally finding my NaNoMoJo, and now I’ve won 4 years on the trot.

Well done to everyone who took part. It can be a big decision and it can take a lot out of your working week – or even your personal time.

Here are my own personal tips for success:

  1. Plan ahead. Even if it’s a quick one-line for each chapter. Even if it’s a “needs more work/words here”. Plan ahead. Do this by the end of October.
  2. Allocate your NaNoWriMo time first, before anything else. Fit it in around other inflexible commitments, write it in your diary, and then stick to it.
  3. Find out if there are any local NaNo write-ins or other events. It’s great knowing other, real, tangible people are doing this with you.
  4. (Optional) Find a supportive partner! If they can provide financial as well as emotional and motivational support, all the better.

This year I found a writers’ guide that really, really helped with my planning (writing and scheduling). And it will appear in my next 52 Books in 52 Weeks post.

The other thing that helped a lot this year was recalculating my daily word-count and taking at least one day off a week. There’s not a lot of difference between 1,667 and 2,000 words a day, and taking that time to recharge or lie on your back on the floor and either just think or forget about your book can make all the difference.

Last year what helped more than anything else (apart from the supportive partner bit) was a contract. I submitted a proposal to a publisher in July 2017, which was accepted. I spent the next 3 months researching what I needed to find out before writing anything, and then November 2017 was spent writing the first draft.

I had a break, and then spent January and February 2018 polishing it, in between other work (I still need to earn a living, the same as many), and fitting in final research visits to plug the gaps. I submitted the finished article mid-March 2018 (my deadline was 1 March but my handler gave me another 2 weeks).

Reader, the book was published on 19 November 2018. Less than one year after I finished NaNoWriMo 2017. You can buy A History of Cadbury here. (It’s in stock now, with more on the way apparently.)

I have a couple of weeks now in which to catch up on editing and proofreading work for clients. I also have two more (requested!) book proposals to draft, write, polish and deliver to my non-fiction publisher (who also happens to be lovely-already-boss). And then I’ll try and complete the first draft of this version of the novel I worked on. Hopefully by Christmas, the main legwork will be done.

In January, I hope to start the polishing process and plugging the gaps. Then the beta readers will get the new version in one swoop.

What I’ve learnt from this year’s event is that I can actually do it, and I can do it more than once. So for the coming year, I’m going to allocate other months (30- or 31-day, not 28-day) to a single project in the hope of completing something else. Obviously, I need to finish Catch the Rainbow first. But I’m chomping at the bit to start the next project too.

How did your NaNoWriMo 2018 go?

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