Thursday, October 27, 2011

Preparing for NanoWriMo- Advice for the Newbies

Song of the Day: Dare You to Move by Switchfoot

   Hello all! We're almost done with the week, which means we're that much closer to the weekend! You know what else it means? We're that much closer to National Novel Writing Month a.k.a NanoWriMo. I couldn't be happier. There is just something about the Nano campaign that makes me get my butt in the chair. I'm also really excited about my novel.

   I did NanoWriMo for the first time last year and it taught me a lot about myself as a writer. It also gave me the courage to FINALLY stop making excuses and write my first novel. I did a post on what I learned, which you can find here. I also learned a lot about what I should be doing to prepare. I wrote a post about that too. It's called Gearing Up for National Novel Writing Month. Having actually gone through the experience, I also learned a couple of things along the way that I should have done, but didn't. I thought I'd give some advice on that today and also recap a little on how to prepare.

With that being said, here is what I know to be true about NanoWriMo:

1. You'll need Coffee

I wasn't a coffee drinker before NanoWriMo but last November, I became one. Trust me, you will need that cup in the morning to either perk your eyes up, or you'll need it at night to keep your eyes open while you're trying to meet your word count for the day.

2. You'll need a Dropbox Account

Picture this: you're pounding away at the keyboard. You're somewhere at the 20,000 word mark and your laptop falls out of your lap and hits the floor--with your jump drive. Gasp! That happened to me. Luckily, I had emailed the majority of my novel to myself, so I only lost about 2,000 words. Still, if you know the word count requirement for the day, (1667) then you know that a loss of 2,000 words sets you back a couple days. I pouted and I didn't write for three days. Had I had a Dropbox account, I would have had my novel backed up. My suggestion is to back your novel up in as many places as possible, DAILY. I mean email it, put it in Dropbox, put it on a flash drive, put it on an external hard drive, save it to your computer, get my point?

3. Outline...or Don't Outline

Last year I outlined the first eight chapters of my novel. By about chapter two, I was going in another direction. That is how I discovered that I'm indeed a panster. I like to let the story form on its own. My characters do the talking for me. They often have very different ideas than I do. This is what works for me. If you're more of a plotter, then you definitely want to take some time to sit down and outline before NanoWriMo starts. If you're like me and you're a panster, I would still suggest having a loose outline. Just a few ideas jotted down about where you intend for the story to go. That way, if you get writer's block, (and there's a 90% chance you will) you can refer to your list of ideas.

4. Resist the Urge to Edit

The whole point of NanoWriMo is to just write. I had a lot of trouble even writing my novel because I was always so critical. I would stop and edit, then get frustrated and stop writing altogether. Relax. When you get the urge to edit, remember that you're just getting the words on the page. I like to repeat to myself: "You can go back and fix that later."

5. Map Out Your Day

It is crucial that you plan to write every day. If you fall behind, it is VERY possible to catch up, but it's also a lot harder. I like to think of everything I have to do for the day and decide when I can sneak in writing time. Last year, I wrote in the car before work, I wrote on my lunch hour and even got a few words in between work hours. Figure out the little gaps of time you have and use them to your advantage. I get to work early and usually have about thirty minutes to spare.  That would allow me to write anywhere from 400-700 words. That's a good chunk of your daily goal. If you notice that there will be a day where you'll be too busy to write, try and write extra words on other days. Just make sure you plan.

6. Get a Support System

If you don't know any writers, it's really easy to make writer friends from NanoWriMo. I made a ton on twitter alone using the hashtag #NanoWriMo. Having NanoWriMo friends is important because these are the people who will cheer you on, they'll understand if you're behind on your word count or if you're struggling with your characters, they'll also encourage you to keep going. I couldn't have done it without my NanoWriMo buddies.

   If you want to look me up on the Nano site, my name is Clasica106. I'm really excited about National Novel Writing Month this year. I can't wait to get started on my novel. I'll see you folks in the trenches! Good luck writers!


  1. You know another great thing is Google Docs. I use that when I don't want to keep having various versions around and just want to keep editing one document. Also if the comp fails/dies you always have Google Docs and you can open it wherever and not have to worry about your work being saved on the computer if it's not yours.
    Pretty sweet. Happy NaNoWriMo!

  2. Or a flash drive. I often back my stuff up on a flash drive. It's light weight, portable, and you can plug it in anywhere.

  3. Great tips. Have a happy NaNoWriMo

  4. These are excellent tips...and they are all SO true. I plan to probably upload my novel as I go on Google Docs as well as saving it to my laptops and on my flashdrive. It is really crucial to save in more than one place. And having a support system is numero uno! Great post :D

  5. Such an awesome post! I adore Nanowrimo, even though I've never participated. I'm in the middle of writing my novel as well, and what mostly stops me is my analytical editors cap perpetually haunting me! I think I'll participate in Nanowrimo this year unofficially, as I'm already writing. This was such an inspiring post!


  6. GREAT advice! I've never done NaNo but I might convince myself to try it next year. These are really great tips. Good luck with it this year!

  7. This is a great post - I'm especially relieved to read your third point! All of my friends who are doing NaNo have pages and pages of character and plot outlines, I have a two page Word document. I guess I must be a pantser...