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Nov 13 2017
by Mia Martins

How to Write a Novel in a Month (Even as a College Student)

By Mia Martins - Nov 13 2017
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At a time with holiday greetings abound, I wish you all a very happy NaNoWriMo!


In case you don't know what NaNoWriMo is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November. This worldwide write-a-thon brings together countless authors, all endeavoring to “win” the event – AKA, write at least 50,000 words in a single month!

Though we may be halfway through November, it’s never too late to hop on this bandwagon – after all, 25,000 words is a lot better than none! But what about us hapless college students, struggling merely to drag ourselves through the final weeks until Christmas break? Does being inundated with exams and projects mean we’re incapable of participating, much less succeeding?

Absolutely not! Believe it or not, it’s entirely possible to reach that word count goal and still turn your homework in on time. Ahead are some tips for taking that first step to becoming the next J.K. Rowling:

1. Don’t worry about quality.

Stressing over grammar mistakes, misspellings and plot details will only hang you up and deter you from moving forward with your story. This is your first draft, so things are expected to be far from perfect. Just keep writing with the knowledge that you’ll come back and edit everything later. After all, they’re called rough drafts for a reason.

2. Carve out some time.

Okay, okay, I know we’re busy but let’s be real: you have the time to write every day. I suggest linking all your devices to the cloud so that you can go from writing on your phone to your laptop to your tablet and still have your story synced at a moment’s notice. Whether making time to write means doing so on the bus, as you’re waiting for class to start or while you eat, there are little pockets of time throughout the day that can be utilized to jot a few paragraphs down. You’d be surprised how much it adds up! And if writing on the go isn’t your style, try waking up earlier (gasp!) and taking advantage of the morning to get ahead.

3. Find a support group.

The NaNoWriMo website has some great forums for students who are in similar positions. Misery loves company, but misery also loves pep-talks and friendly word-count competitions.

4. Be realistic.

Like I said, we’re already halfway through November, so 50,000 words before December 1st may not be achievable. Likewise, this probably isn’t the best time to try and wing an intricately-plotted 12-novel saga set in an elaborate fantasy world. Set goals you know you personally have a good chance of completing, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t!

5. Above all, make it enjoyable

Schedule a writing session in your favorite coffee shop and allow yourself all the treats you want, or snuggle up with a clean blanket and your laptop as you watch the sun set. Get together with some friends and collaborate on a humor piece with them, laughing until your stomach hurts. Writing shouldn’t feel like a punishment, and you won’t produce your best work if it does! The point of NaNoWriMo is to further encourage writing, not drive people away from it. Remember that it’s your mindset, not your word count, that determines whether you actually “succeed” at this event.

Now, get to writing!

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Mia Martins - University of San Francisco

Mia Martins is a freshman and Media Studies major at University of San Francisco. You can find her reviewing TV shows under the handle @miaandmedia on Instagram.

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