Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nanowrimo Survival Tips

Yes, I've used this one before. It's okay though.

1. Warn your friends and family and ask for support. The only way you will cross that finish line will be with dishes in the sink, unshowered, and wearing dirty clothes. It's not a glamorous way to write a novel, but you're not alone in this, not in success or in struggle. A little warning and letting them know what to expect can help make this be a growth experience for all of you.

2. Outline you month ahead of time. I don't write on weekends, or holidays, so if you block out the days you know you won't be writing, you know what your word count needs to be on the meat and potatoes day of November.

3. Eat lots of sugar. I read somewhere that the sugar you eat goes first to your brain, and I've found that copious amounts of Halloween candy can increase my word count...and another number but that's for me to worry about come January. It helped me, though, to say I can eat this piece of candy once I've written 500 words. Mini rewards can be helpful, and we each know what will motivate yourself. I always found entering my word count into the website to be super motivating, especially when you see your buddies are ahead of you.

4. When in doubt, add a car chase. In the middle of some difficult dialogue? Let bullets start flying, and watch your character react to that. You don't need to know who is shooting at the character, because finding out who is doing this and how does this danger play with your plot will give you a mystery, which means something to find out. Which means two scenes (at least) for the price of once!

5.Give all of your characters a different catch phrase and random activity. This can be edited out and replaced with actual characterization, but when you write too fast, sometimes the characters blur together, so don't be afraid to do random stuff to differentiate, like give one blue hair, and have another say, "It's all right, pretty baby." in every scene. That's five words you can add very easily. Make your characters as different and awesome as possible. Don't just have them drive a green Hyundai, let them drive a classic Corvette, or a minivan full of pizza boxes, or a bright pink smart car that only fits one person... which is bad when you are with five people who keep getting shot at or chased. Imagine fitting them all in that tiny pink car, and Character B's blue hair is blocking your POV's view, and Loveinterest Mcloveinterest is sitting on Rival's lap and POV's friend keeps saying, "It's all right, pretty baby." while people are chasing you and bullets are flying.

That's what Nanowrimo is all about. Remember this doesn't need to be good. The value of Nano isn't that you will get a bestseller out of it, although it's been done. The value of Nano is participating in a group act of creative community, accomplishing a goal, and finding the joy. We all write because we love it, but it's easy to get bogged down in being good, or in caring what other people will think, or in the correct placement of a freaking comma.

Nanowrimo is a chance to write something just for you, while being surrounded by people who are cheering you on. It's a chance to dwell too long on the romance, see the inside lining of your sub-conscience, and find things inside you you didn't know were hiding. And when you are done, you won't be one of the 90% of people who want to write a book. You'll be one of the 5% who've done it.

Write on, Warrior. I'm cheering for you!


  1. I've been toying with the idea of trying Nanowrimo this year and your tips might just push me over the edge - thanks, Sheena!

  2. I like that rationale - of having fun and writing something for yourself - more than any other I've seen for doing NaNoWriMo. Thanks for sharing!


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