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SURVIVAL TIPS FOR NANOWRIMO

It’s almost that time again, when writers hibernate for a month, overindulge in chocolate and coffee, surface wild-haired and bloodshot-eyed to get more supplies and are often heard at night howling literary expletives to the moon.

November is Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, when writers all over the world join hands in a virtual Ring Around The Rosie and pledge to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. If you’re crazy enough to be contemplating such a venture read on:

  • Make sure you have at the very least a plot outline and profiles of your main characters. It’s not much use writing 50,000 words of stream of consciousness, then come up with a brilliant story idea half way through and have to scrap what you’ve written and start over again.
  • Be realistic about your goal – 50, 000 words over 30 days works out to 1666.6666 to infinity words per day. For someone who is a slow writer (like me) or works full time with family responsibilities and only has 2 hours at night to write after the kids go to bed, this is totally unrealistic.  In any case, unless you’re writing a romance or young adult novel, 50,000 words does not constitute a novel. Set your own goal and work towards it.
  • Following this point, you don’t have to stick to the rules, which say that it should be a brand new novel and it should be fiction. It’s not as if the Nanowrimo police will be on your doorstep with a search warrant for your hard drive. If you don’t care about getting an official  certificate of accomplishment to pin on your wall to add some visual relief to the rejection slips, you can do anything you want – finish a novel you’re already started, do some editing (trigger a mutiny by getting rid of words rather than adding them) or work on a non-fiction novel.  Use Nanowrimo as a motivational tool to kick your own butt and get to work.
  • Join a Nanowrimo community. They’re everywhere and there’s sure to be one near you. Register here and you’ll be directed to all the communities in your area. You can connect with other writers and indulge in mutual weeping and gnashing of teeth, or even cheering and high-fives. You could even arrange to meet in person at somewhere like your local library and do a marathon session together.
  • Tell everyone you know that you’re doing Nanowrimo.  It’ll help keep you on track (no slacking off when you know there’ll be people asking you every day for your latest word count and you wouldn’t want to be forced to lie, would you?)  It also gives you an excuse to do no housework for a month, install a pulley system to your local Chinese take-away and turn up to work looking as if you’ve gone ten rounds with a hairy goat. ‘Poor thing,’ your workmates will mutter sympathetically, casting sideways glances at you slumping into your coffee, ‘she’s doing Nanowrimo.’

And for some light relief, of which you will need plenty, head over to Terrible Minds and read Chuck Wendig’s take on Nanowrimo. Warning: if profanity offends you, watch Ice Age 3 instead.

They’re my tips, but don’t take my advice, because I’ve never done it. This is where my talent for procrastination comes to the fore – next year, I promise!

 

Have you done Nanowrimo?  Are you planning to do it this year? I’d love to hear your experiences and advice – maybe you can talk me into it!

About the Author Robin Storey

Robin Storey is an Australian author from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is a certified book nerd and has no weird hobbies or unusual pets.

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