How To Become A NaNoWriMo “Winner”


NaNoWriMo is here! That month of suffering for your art and straining for an image is now upon us. It is not for the squeamish. Nothing but the stout-hearted and solid-bottomed will do. The calluses on our finger tips are our flesh-colored badge of courage.

To see it through you need to be properly equipped. So for all of my fellow NaNoers I have compiled a simple assemblage of items for your literary knapsack, a compositional first aid kit, if you will, to help you through the next month.

  • Write-Ins – Sometimes these are all social, slices of pizza beside ourlaptops. But I remember last year, I got some real work done at my write-ins. You feel less crazy seeing others as crazy as you.
  • Forums – The NaNo website has a great page of forums. It’s a great place to find information and encouragement. When I need a break from writing, I usually hit the forums.
  • Pep Talks – When you sign up for NaNoWriMo you get emails from various writers encouraging you to keep it up. These are called Pep Talks. They’re great and they really work.
  • Coffee – I’m not joking. You cannot succeed at NaNoWriMo without writing very early and/or very late, scratch the “or.” Coffee is wonderful just because it’s coffee, but it’s almost a tonic for the NaNoer. And a bit of advice: coffee, yes – alcohol, no.
  • Muscle Rub – Again, I’m not joking. You are going to get sore muscles writing as much as you will. I’m sore just from writing this article. Nothing wrong with a good rub, and it smells good, too!
  • Comfortable Work Space – Last year I had piles of stuff on my desk, so I put my laptop on my office chair and wheeled it up to my recliner. Not advised. Maybe that’s why I needed all that muscle rub last year, but writing at desk at the right height in a solid yet comfy chair makes a big difference.
  • A Good Book – Writers are readers, and that doesn’t change just because there are now more demands no our schedule. I’m going to continuereading what I was already reading, which is The Bear by William Faulkner and Edmund Blake’s A Philosophical Enquiry Ito The Sublime And Beautiful.
  • Time Management – You have a life outside of NaNo, even though it may not seem like it. You need to learn to make and keep a schedule. Not only will this help you get your writing done, but it will let you get everything else done you need to do.
  • Rest – Enough of this staying up late and getting up early. You need to get some sleep. You may happen to sleep less than Aristotle, but your writing will show it. You need to rest your mind. Pillow that brain once in a while!
  • Support – The writing friends you make during NaNoWriMo can provide great support. I mean more than helping you find a synonym for truculent or what to do in your scene when the man walks through the door with a gun (the man, not the door). There is a great deal of encouragement to be found by your fellow writers. They don’t have to say or do anything. Just the fact that they are doing it with you helps bucketfuls.

What did I leave out? What gets you through a month of nervous November noveling? Let me know how you survive NaNoWriMo in the Comment section below. Happy NaNoing!



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3 responses to “How To Become A NaNoWriMo “Winner”

  1. Think you pretty much covered it. I’ve found that healthy snacks, lots of coffee and water (I try to drink almost as much water as I do coffee so that I stay hydrated), and a comfortable place to write are the primary items. I also use Scrivener, which is wonderful. Got it for 50% off after my 2nd NaNoWriMo. And I also watch the NaNoWriMo videos on YouTube for motivation and so I know I’m not alone in this, as well as reading the forum on NaNo or on FB. Good Luck!

  2. I’m warming up by writing 2000 words a day, short stories, plot outlines or any kind of junk I can think of. Routine is very very important.

  3. I don’t really need motivation as I’m excited about the art of writing novels and motivated by watching people and imagining their motives for doing anything (I’m quite surprised that not half the population has been “brought round the corner” {the German expression is “Um die Ecke gebracht” = done in!}). This year I wrote a novel in April-May because I wanted to keep my hand in for November, and last night I passed the magic half-way house, though I’m really aiming for more than 50000 and doing what is actually not recommended: revising as I go, so that at least some of the worst howlers are eradicated. I finished in 2012 and 2013, writing genuinely new stuff; with lots of retrospective revision I managed to squeeze quite reasonable writing out of them. On the downside of NANOWRIMO: I got the feeling that quite a few who entered were posting work they’d done previously, but that’s not the point of the exercise. I’ve never really tried to publish anything (I ask myself is my work good enough). I’d need an agent first and living in Germany I’m in a minority writing in English (my native tongue!) and could only get an agent online and how do I set about finding the right one? I have worked as a professional writer, concocting copy for English learners and published by German publishers, but novel-writing is great fun and I really do it for myself, my brain and my sanity. I make PDFs of my Word files and read them on my Kindle. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised…….

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