05 November 2010

Ten Tips for Nanowrimo

by Leona Bushman

The NaNoWriMo craze is in full swing. People not involved with it are probably sick to death hearing about it. Nevertheless, we who are embarking on this insanity, push on in our endeavor, ignoring the whines of those who have to listen to us as we gear up for the frenzy. Last year, my first NaNoWriMo, was exceedingly good for me. I learned new things and had fun. I highly recommend it. It helps get a manuscript off the ground.

A few rules to remember:

1) Turn off your inner editor. I know. Sucks. Make notes. Word commenter system worked wonders for me (one of the things I learned last year).

2) Breathe. This may seem obvious, but think of the stress created under pressure. This is the worst kind of pressure-the pressure to create. An intimate act that you hope will eventually be printed by strangers and loved the world over. Or, at least by enough people to keep you in ink and Pepsi. (Uh, no Pepsi doesn't pay me for product placement. I live on the Rez. Yes, in this case that stereotype* holds true).

3) Find a rhythm. A pattern. Whatever your pattern is. It helps me to twitter/blog to get my brain going. It gives my kids a chance to remember all that, "Oh yeah mom, I forgot to tell you stuff," and "I'm hungry," whines, and get it all out of the way. Then, when writing is underway, I can say with total assurance, I took care of this or that. That was my pattern. It helped. You may need to stay off the internet to ensure you don't waste time playing. Use it as a reward. You know yourself. If you don't, you still have a few days left to figure it out.

4) Quit freaking out about the word goal. It's not really particularly high. You may need to push yourself out of that comfort zone you've been in, but just do it. (Nike's not paying me either. Maybe I should apply?)

5) Make your daily word count based on weekdays. That does two things. One, you have two days off if you succeed and you can look forward to that. It allows for birthday parties, school functions, whatever you need those two days for. Two, it gives you those days to make up something you missed because you got a flat tire on the way to a write-in or your kids' teacher calls and wanted to know why they thought Duct tape was an awesome disciplinary tool.

6) Prep meals and TREATS ahead of time as much as possible. Freeze cookie dough, muffins, whatever it is that you and your family like. They will feel less like you've abandoned them. I wasn't prepared last year, so the first week sucked, but I'm a quick learner. I spent one day prepping as many meals as I could for the next week. That included grocery shopping, and portioning out things in preparation. Last year was a real challenge because I had no oven or microwave-stove top only. A gas stove top. I'd never used a gas stovetop before.

7) If you are having problems with the plot, or a chapter, write what you want to happen. I did this and before I knew it, I was writing again to the story. Granted, I had to edit out things later, but it kept my word count going and my stress level stopping. (Can you keep something stopping??? LOL)

8) Let no bad happen. If you can help it. I don't mean in your story. If you are writing horror. Write things as bad as you like. I mean, don't over stress the little things. Further, farther? OMG which is it? My story will suck now because I can't remember. Worst, worse? Everyone will think I'm an idiot. Okay, get the picture? QUIT IT. When this is over, I will steal a few wonderful language sites from edittorrent's grammar site and post them here so that you can fix it-LATER.

9) Keep networking. Keep talking to those people who have been your support all this time. It will relieve stress, give you companionship, and keep it all in good fun, which leads to my last rule.

10) Have fun. We're writers. Writing is fun. Yes it's hard work. Yes, it can tear us apart emotionally when things aren't loved by everybody and their dog PB. But over the top, it's fun. Why else would we do it? Half the time we are fighting stereotyping (that's not a REAL job & You're not Published? then you're not a REAL writer) and our families to buy the time we need. Not to mention jobs, illness, life's foibles. Why not have fun?

You can follow me and my crazy journey with fellow writers on twitter by looking up Leona Bushman.

* For more on Native American stereotypes in literature and how to avoid them read "The Chief Silver Eagle Litmus Test for Writers."


  1. Love this! And, I needed it. I was so anxious and ahead of the game last year. This year I am so behind and casual about it. I need to kick it in gear this weekend.

    Buddy me at Anne Tyler Lord.

    So good to see you (I've been offline a lot the last couple months)

  2. Anne! I've been missing you so much! I've even checked back at your blog hoping to see some hint of the very talented and whimsical writer I enjoy so much.

    Rushing over right now. Suggest everyone else does, too.

  3. Great advice. I have been having some trouble 'shutting off my internal editor' ... It's tough. My first couple of night writing I spent a lot of time going back and 'fixing' even though I knew I shouldn't bother.

  4. These are all great tips, and it really sums up my past experiences with NaNoWriMo, and what I learned in my last two years! It also inspired me to get back to writing, which is a good push!

    I can't wait to see all the grammar outlines after NaNo. It's been rather painful ignoring things I am pretty sure I did wrong, but can't concentrate on, because I'm behind on wordcount perpetually.

  5. These are really helpful I wanted to send some of my work in.