Joining NaNoWriMo 2019, especially if it’s your first time, is nerve-wracking. A 30-day painful journey to finishing your first book, a 90,000-word piece of crap.
It’s a New Year with new writing goals, new novel ideas to write. We’re super stoked to get started. Now, one of the biggest events for writers every year is none other than the NaNoWriMo 2019. Of course, it’d be this coming November.
You probably say, come on, it’s still January. Are we going to start planning the book for the competition months earlier? I say, yes. This is exactly how I won the worldwide contest after my first try.
I wrote “Accidental Quest,” my entry, months earlier with all the planning and stuff before I decided to register and showcase my entry there. So, is this what you really want to achieve this year? In 2019, do you want to win a big competition just as NaNoWriMo?
If you do, I’d like you to grab my FREE eBook and download it to start planning your novel to make your novel-writing easier than before. The lessons I share with you are the same steps I apply with my own writing. So, grab it while you can.
Without ado, here are my 21 NaNoWriMo 2019 writing tips to help you win the globally renowned competition with the first try.
1. Book Idea (Inspiration)
Just like any other author out there, I walk outside and roam around the barangay with my thoughts running so fast, filled with lots of ideas. Possibilities, I should say.
Most of the time, my sister invites me to have a Venti size of hot Starbucks latte. There I unknowingly formulate stories while enjoying my warm drink. Usually, I discuss it with her and she adds more possibilities while I jot them down in my notes. She’s a reader so it helps a lot to know their perspective, which is apparently different from that of the author.
In that way, it gives me a new insight on how to create my plot. If you’re curious how I make my stories, you can read more about it here.
I couldn’t start my day without having a mug of coffee with me. Sometimes, I do have 2 mugs of it per day depending on how much I spend time writing in front of my laptop. I bet you, too.
There’s nothing more satisfying than having a cup of warm coffee while listening to the raindrops falling from the rooftops, rippling on the ground. Just imagining it now makes me feel really good. How about you?
3. Walk Everyday
Aside from having a warm drink on a rainy day, walking is the best methods I use to find novel inspirations. Though I sometimes binge watch Korean shows to gather plot ideas, I can also do the same while walking kilometers per day.
4. Watch Drama, Movies For Inspiration
With my aunt’s hobby, I binge watch Asian drama and movies to enjoy the writer’s stories on the big screen. My sister downloads new ones for us to stay late at night and watch the series together. Sometimes with my mother.
I grew up watching Korean drama series and movies since it was first shown in the Philippines around 2003 or 2004. Since then, I couldn’t stop watching them.
But I stopped during the college days when my super hectic schedule in student politics (as a president of the student council and executive secretary of the Central Student Government) couldn’t allow me doing it.
Right now, with my new career move, I resume my favorite hobby. With my husband sometimes. *smiles*
5. Book Title
Not all authors follow the procedure where they create the book title first before they write the whole story. My system is reverse. I create the book idea and formulate lots of book titles. Then, I select which one is more appropriate and closer to the plot.
If you want to create your book titles using the Book Title Generator, you can select the following. Choose the generator and provide the keywords related to your story. It’s simple to use.
- Reedsy Book Title Generator
- Portent Title Maker
- Fantasy Name Generators (It says fantasy, but it also has features for other genres as well).
- Serendipity (only fantasy book titles)
- Book Title Generator
After I formulate my story or even before I got the inspiration for the next story, I always listen to music. And there are many times when I simply listen to the rhythm of the song regardless if I understand the language or not, the rhythm alone is enough to create the mood of the book.
Once that’s done, I keep listening to the music, the one I use for inspiration until I finish writing the book. While writing the chapters, I play it over and over again to keep the mood.
Because of that technique, my readers tend to feel the emotions flowing from the story. One of them told me that they couldn’t help but feel the sentiments of the characters as if they’re real to their lives. From there, I should be grateful for the one who created the music I used upon writing that story.
To be honest, I keep records of the song titles beside the book title. When they’re randomly played on the radio, I couldn’t help but smile as the story plays in my head though I finished the story ages ago.
7. Conflict Creation
This in relation to my first point. Part of creating the new book idea is creating conflicts within the story. This is the lean meat why the novel has to exist anyway. Your characters won’t be something if they aren’t facing any troubles along the way. That makes your story boring.
The more difficult the conflict is, the more interesting the story goes. Because for your readers, it’d be like “How can he resolve this?” or “How the hell could he save himself from danger?” Questions go on in their minds without knowing it. That makes them flip more pages. (Scroll down on Wattpad)
8. Observe Reality For Scene Inspiration
I tend to use the real situation to include in one of the scenes in the novel. Sometimes, I didn’t notice I create a satire in one of my books. In fact, I discovered lately that I have that tendency to mix the fantasy created in the fiction and the real issues of the society.
Oh, I know it sounds too deep. *nosebleeds*
But, yes. If you happen to notice Jane Austen’s writing style, she uses the real societal concerns in her books, especially “Pride and Prejudice.”
Recently, I happen to notice we have similar taste on writing and how we attack the sensitive subject in a way it would still be romantic and relatable to the readers.
You see, Mr. Darcy and Ms. Bennett’s romance is undeniably iconic. But have you noticed their conflict? It’s etiquette. And in her time, it’s a must for women to act in accord to the norms, which Elizabeth doesn’t conform. She reads more books than any woman in her age. She’s supposed to find a man to marry but she’s not into it.
Have you thought of real concern to add in your book idea? If so, transform that idea into a premise to make it stronger and lasting.
What are the differences between the novel idea and the premise? The idea is raw, taken from fresh inspiration. But the premise is the foundation of the novel. It contains 3 to 5 sentences, yet, within this brief number of sentences, you see the overall picture of your story. Learn more here.
You see who your characters are, the settings, the conflict, and the goal. All in one. If you can’t see these within the 3 to 5 sentences limit, you have to revise until you can make it clear for you and for your readers. You can test it out with a reader friend. I have my sister doing that for me.
When it comes to the characters, I always ask “What if?” These 2 words are so vital that it helps me produce characters that are so out of this world. If not, unique.
What I do is observe the other authors’ works in the bookstores and keep in mind the details of their characters. Might as well as their stories. I observe the similarities. Once I’m done, I, along with my sister, go to Bon Chon, a Korean fast food chain and discuss it with her.
She’ll ask me what I found out, so on. Then, I formulate new characteristics based on my “What if?” and create a new character that’s new.
How to do that?
If you want to write about a CEO romance, read more about it. And then, mix and match with other genres. Put them up together and voila! You have a new, unique character.
Let’s say, a CEO who happens to be a wolf at night falls in love with his secretary who happens to be a slayer or a hunter by night. They fall in love without knowing they have to kill each other because their ancestral prophecies tell them.
That’s one example. There’s a lot more of the combination, simply don’t limit. Romance mix with Action, mix it with Vampire, etc. Lots of them. It’s up to your crazy and creative mind how.
11. Include Your Personal Experiences
Certainly, you can’t help but include a part of you in your works. It’s inevitable. You know when you write a story, it’s always a part of the story you want to share in an indirect way.
Perhaps, it’s your unrequited love or childhood trauma. You include these subjects within your plot. In fact, your writing voice is rooted in how you grew up. Your main characters tend to have similar tastes to you.
My stories are dark-themed because I had a difficult childhood. My story selection includes action, crime, brutality, violence, and intelligence (shown in my characters) since they reflect who I really am. If you read my works, you notice the similarities.
This refers to the time period and the place where the story will occur. You have to make sure it is apt for your plot or your intention to emphasize the irony of the plot. What do I mean by that?
Let’s say, your story is about 2 people in different backgrounds, a celebrity and a citizen, meet and due to trouble (life-staking trouble), they have to be together and escape until they find themselves trapped inside the cemetery.
While they’re trying to escape the death, they realize the irony because they’ve been trying to take their own lives out of desperation. Does this make sense to you?
13. Writing Buddy
Though I find this one advantageous sometimes, it’s important to have a writing buddy who will be with you in the novel-writing journey. Especially during NaNoWriMo. I had one and we communicated often during the competition until it ends. So, it’s best to have one.
But if you prefer to work on your story alone, like I always do, it’s also great.
14. Writing Time Every Day
Stephen King, a seasoned author, reveals he writes every single day. He keeps his daily routine and finishes 10 pages of drafts for the book. That’d be around 2,000 to 3,000 words approximately. That means, within 30 days, he finishes around 60,000 words. That’s already one book.
He said though there are times he feels like he’s too tired to write that day, he still does. It’s discipline. Honestly, I’m still working on that though I write every single day for another full-time day job (as a content writer). But working on my novel is tougher.
However, if you want to practice the lifestyle other seasoned authors do, just simply write every day and reach your writing goals. Be it writing 2,000 words per day or equivalent to 1 chapter or 10 pages.
It doesn’t matter as long as you write. In fact, even one of the most popular bloggers now, Jeff Goins, say the same thing. “Write at least 500 words per day,” he wrote.
15. Novel Outline
This becomes useful when you start writing your book. It makes your novel-writing smoother and easier since you already have outlined the scenes you want to happen per chapter. Even the best-selling author, Derek Murphy, has this and uses the 3-Act Outline for his books.
Another thing is when you decide to have your work edited professionally, the editor asks for your novel outline as reference during the developmental editing phase.
You can read more about the novel outline in this post. Learn here.
When I wrote “Accidental Quest,” I had my sister with me. She’s the one who encourages me to get a grip on myself albeit suffering major depression and the onset of an eating disorder (until now). She told me to reflect on what I should do and want to achieve because I was lost.
From there, I decided to get serious with my writing and finished “Accidental Quest” with a decision to join NaNoWriMo 2018 for the first time. In that same year, I won the competition and gained awards and freebies, including Dabble Writer whole year discounts.
Apart from her, I leveled up my writing career and approached my neighbor, who happened to be a Law School graduate from one of the prestigious universities in the country. I asked for his inputs about the plot since it involves Philippine law and crime. So, through his help, there are many changes in the original story in line to his suggestions.
In the end, my sister and my neighbor became my accountability partners. Because of that, I owe them my success in NaNoWriMo 2018. If you want to replicate my success, find your accountability partners. Be it your husband or boyfriend, your sister, or your friend. Bring them with your journey. It’d be fun.
Like I pointed out earlier, it’s a must for you to stick with your writing goals every day or at least regularly if your time couldn’t allow it. It doesn’t matter how much you can write on that day as long as you’ve written something.
Novel-writing requires so much discipline on your part. And if you want to get serious with it, you have to start changing your lifestyle and free some hours to spend on your writing alone.
This is what I did when I wrote my book entry. I spent more than 5 hours per day to write as much as 100,000 in one month. Of course, it’d be much for someone with a full-time day job. But, at least you wrote 500 words per day or 2,000 words. I don’t think it’d be too much to ask.
18. Read More Books
James Clear, one of the best-selling authors of self-development and forming habits, wrote that it’s one of the common denominators among successful folks is their reading habit.
Thus, if a businessman has to read more books to upgrade their knowledge in their niche, how much more an author? It won’t make sense to read less because you write stories, right?
If you want to level-up your writing, you have to read more books and learn how other authors write certain scenes or how they develop the characters, as well as the plot. By reading their works, it will help you gain insights on how to apply their writing techniques to your works, too. I promise.
19. NaNoWriMo 30-Day Plan
This will be easier if you plan the book ahead or at least a month earlier than the competition date. NaNoWriMo 2019 will surely start on the first day of the month. So, around September or October, you already have your 30-day plan with you.
What does this 30-day plan contain?
- Book idea
- Book premise
- Novel outline
To learn more about how I write “Accidental Quest” and finish the book entry for NaNoWriMo 2018 within 30 days, read this post.
20. Design Your Book Cover
Actually, this is one of the first things I do prior to writing my books. But there are times when the ideas, especially when the story comes to an end, change. You can’t help but revise the first few drafts of the book cover you create prior to the writing process.
To make it easier for you, you can hire someone who’ll do this in your stead. But, if you have the talent, you can do so on your own. Most of the time, I do this via Canva.
21. Enjoy The Process
Novel-writing is tough. I repeated that in most of my posts and in my emails. It’s a less-traveled path and definitely, it’s not everybody’s choice. It requires tough people who can endure the difficulty it entails from the moment you scribble until the last word.
Nonetheless, enjoy the process. It’d be a rewarding moment for you to remember as time goes by. I swear. Though I struggled to finish my first Filipino Historical Romance book “30 Days With Mr. Weirdo” last year, recalling the experience makes me smile. Until now.
To share that experience with you, it’s best to start writing your story now and feel the enthralling novel-writing brings to your life. It’s life-changing.
Final Thoughts About NaNoWriMo 2019 Writing Tips & Winning
The whole idea about joining NaNoWriMo 2019 is about proving you can achieve something bigger than writing underneath the shade. It’s about showing what you can do to the world with bigger audience and critics working hand-in-hand.
Writing stories for such a big competition is one of the most difficult stages of my life – apart from graduating college and changing my career move. Yet, in the end, the reward I sowed is indeed a God’s gift. The feeling is incomparable especially when you type in the last word of the book.
I remembered when I wrote the word “Forever” in the epilogue of “Accidental Quest,” I had a sudden chill, causing my whole body to shiver for a moment. I almost was in tears knowing the book is finished. “Wow, I did it,” I whispered to myself. Just so you know, achieving something like that is indescribable to the point where you can only shed tears to explain it.
Until now, all I can say is finishing a book that’s so worthy to brag to others is a fantastic and unforgettable moment. When my sister asked me to print it out for my neighbor’s review, seeing my words printed on the paper makes me happier. Happiness is even an understatement of how I felt that night.
In general, my writing buddy, novel-writing might be something you couldn’t think doing right now. But if you decide to commit to writing your story and join NaNoWriMo 2019 with a desire to win, keep the points I shared with you in this post by heart. If these made me win, it will do for you, too.
Grab my free eBook and win something big this year.
Photo by Japheth Mast on Unsplash
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