Thursday, October 23, 2014

How to Win NaNoWriMo

by Katy White

Autumn is my favorite time of year, what with the holidays, the fact that I can FINALLY wear boots and scarves and sweaters without getting my sweat on *gnashes teeth at Phoenix* and, just as important as the rest of the list, the fact that it's time for NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month.

I loved the experience last year so much that I tried it again for my own personal Camp NaNo this summer and found it equally enjoyable. If you're unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, several of us posted about this event last year (and the year before, and the year before, etc.), and we covered things from Plotting for Pantsers, to a reminder that first drafts are meant to suck (complete with quotes from famous authors), to general tips, and more. But essentially, it's a time of year where writers all around the world band together and try to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

So today, I'd like to write about my limited, but fabulous, experience with NaNo.

Tip I: Before November 1st, the most important thing you can do, in my mind, is prepare in advance. I use Scrivener to organize my writing and to house my outline (if I've done one, and more and more I'm finding that it doesn't suck out my soul to have a beat sheet (seriously, check out Save the Cat Beat Sheets. They're unbelievably helpful)), and to organize my research on locations/floor plans/character descriptions and psych profiles/etc. I'm super visual, so I need to understand everything about the characters and world I'm writing, even if the character is based on my sister and it's set in a city I used to live in.

Tip II: Take a month-long Facebook fast (or whatever social media is your poison). And, if you don't mind the pressure of follow-up questions like "When do I get to read it" and the subsequent lecture on the publishing industry such questions require you give, tell people why you'll be absent all November. However, if you don't want people up in your business, just make up a religious holiday. We're (mostly) Mormon. It'll make you sound holier. ;)

Okay. With that done, here's a glimpse into the mental state I'll be assuming in a few short days (told in the style of Bridget Jones):

-Write more.
-Must stop deleting sentences and write, already.
-Letting toddler chat and play in crib for 10 extra minutes after waking from nap is sign of v. good, v. balanced mother. AM NOT A BAD PERSON!
-Hmm, is it "lay, laid, laid" and "lie, lay, lain"? Let's go to Grammar Girl...NO. Must not get off task. Will fix in revisions. Must write more words.
-Mmm. Diet Pepsi is v. v. good friend. Maybe best friend. Should write Diet Pepsi a thank you note. Should purchase thank you notes. And more Diet Pepsi. Wait, no. Should write more.
-Saving Mini Eggs in freezer since Easter really was brilliant use of storage space. Must remember to tell husband about need for additional freezer for next year...
-Waking up half hour early to write every day. Am She-Ra, Princess of Power.
-Hmm. Is that really how to spell guard? Guard guard guard guard guard guard. No, cannot be right. Spell check broken. Must Google "How to fix spell check". NO. STAY ON TASK.


Good luck to all of you doing NaNo this year! If you have any real tips, please share them below!


  1. This post was timely for me as a couple of days ago I began seriously considering NaNoWriMo. And here I go. . . I'm going to do it. I use Evernote to take notes and make lists on my smart phone and sync it with my laptop, so whatever device I am using I can access writing thoughts.

    1. Evernote! I must download that now. What a great idea! Good luck with NaNo! YOU CAN DO IT! :)

  2. I’ve never “won” NaNoWriMo, but one thing that works for me is to set smaller goals and have an accountability partner. :-)

    1. Agreed. Accountabilibuddies are the best!



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