NaNo is Coming!

It’s that time of year again. November starts in a couple weeks, and November equals NaNo. You know, National Novel Writing Month? Where there’s a collective movement toward going absolutely insane?


For those of you who are unaware of this insanity, the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. You “win” if you manage to finish your project within the timeline, and as a NaNo newbie, I “won” in 2011 with my novel, Iron Jewel. In fact, I exceeded the word count by almost 30,000 and managed to finish with a week to spare. It was exhausting, nerve-wracking, and I am never doing it again.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! So here’s a few tips to get you through the month:

  1. Buy some wine. Buy a lot of wine. Consume said wine. Not only will it turn off your internal editor, it’ll help you relax.
  2. Prepare your friends and loved ones for the month by telling them what you’re doing. If the boyfriend hadn’t been so understanding, I doubt I would have finished the story.
  3. Don’t ignore everything else. Here’s where I screwed up. I spent all my spare time (and some of my not so spare time) glued to my keyboard. You gotta remember: no one’s going to come after you if you fail to complete your project by November 30th. Take time away from the laptop. In fact, make your significant other drag you away periodically. Read. Watch a movie. Reacquaint yourself with your children. Play with the dog. Take breaks.
  4. Get some exercise. Speaking of play, get outside, or at least, get to a gym. Do not skip exercise in favor of just a half hour more. I speak from experience when I tell you that half an hour turns into an hour, then two, then, before you know it, you’re starving but it’s time for bed.
  5. Drink more wine.
  6. Do some planning. If you haven’t bothered to write up some kind of outline or synopsis, well, best of luck to ya. I am a pantser; I can’t plot a book to save my life, and I only write synopses under duress, and even then it’s after I’ve finished writing the book. But even I had character bios (which proved to be necessary) and a chapter by chapter outline (which I ended up largely ignoring). Without that, though, I doubt I would have been able to keep going. You’ll be so wound up, thinking you’ve got to write this big, long novel in 30 days, that if you don’t have some sort of guide to go by, you’ll find yourself staring at Untitled Document, and soon it will be mocking you.
  7. Find buddies. Tons of Tweeps are NaNoing this year, so follow the hashtags #NaNo and #amwriting and make new friends. You can also connect with people on the official NaNo website. A number of people I know (either personally or through following on Twitter) are NaNoing this year, and I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous. Alas, my job was part of what made the experience so stressful (it’s Annual Enrollment time! Have you signed up for benefits yet?) so I’ve decided to forgo NaNo in favor of sanity.
  8. Remember all that wine you bought? Yeah. Drink some more.

There you have it. Some points to get you started. I’m pimping myself out as an unofficial NaNo cheerleader, so I’ll be following the hashtags and keeping people pumped about their word goals. Now, go forth and novelize!

I posted this last year just before NaNoWriMo over on Byrne After Reading, but you know what? These tips don’t have a shelf life!


Do you have any tips? Are planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this year? Share and be merry. 

7 comments for “NaNo is Coming!

  1. October 24, 2013 at 11:44 am

    My favorite tip?
    Drink more wine. 😉

  2. October 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Great advice, Amanda. I’ve done NaNo twice but “used” it each time to develop an idea I was already working on. Both times, I made the 50,000 words, which represented significant progress. I love that you encourage us to try NaNo but not to take ourselves too seriously–just do the best we can. I’m struggling right now with a novel beginning, trying to give it some shape (I’m a pantser, too; hardest thing in the world for me is to outline!) so maybe I can work on it in November. Thanks for the push in that direction.

    • October 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      Best of luck to you! The other reason i’ll never do NaNo again is it took me two years to rework Iron Jewel into submittable shape. If I hadn’t been pushing myself so much that NaNo, I might not have had to put in so much extra work on the project. I think it’s a great way to find out just how fast you can draft, though.

  3. October 27, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Great advice, Amanda. l’ve “won” twice. A third year, I got to about 30,000 words of a YA. The first book is my work-in-progress that took a long time to finish. I was a pantser back then, but I’ve been researching how to become an outlner. I haven’t yet decided yet if I’m going to try again this year. If I decide to give it a go, I will take your advice and stock up on the wine. 🙂

    • October 28, 2013 at 10:52 am

      Yes, the wine is essential 🙂

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