Why You Should Participate in National Novel Writing Month and How to Prepare


— 1 —

I use Grammarly’s plagairism checker online because you’re going to write 50,000 words in one month and they all have to be yours!  You never know when tidbits of something you’ve read will creep, however unintentionally, into your own work.  Many writers don’t read work in their own genre while actively writing, and some read only craft books.  If you are planning on participating in NaNoWriMo decide now what your rules will be and stick to them.   Grammarly is also an excellent resource for after November is over and your first draft is done.  There will be a lot of tidying up to do, and Grammarly can save you lots of time.

— 2 —

Sign up at NaNoWriMo.org and announce to the world that you’ve done so.  It’s like announcing that you’re on a diet – the people around you will hold you accountable.  Talk friends into doing it with you – again, it’s like a diet – easier if you’re not going it alone.

— 3 —

Plot your novel, develop your characters, do any necessary research.  I have an app I love called A Novel Idea where I keep plotlines, character descriptions, scene ideas, etc.  Right now I’ve got stuff for about five different books in there.  Not enough details to write five books, mind you, but the ideas are all arranged in one convenient place when I need them.  There’s lots of software out there, both free and easy and complex and pricey.  There’s nothing wrong with paper and pen, post-its on a corkboard, or colored Sharpies on a posterboard.  Plan the way that makes sense to you.

— 4 —

Create the time to write.  Of course you don’t have the extra time to write well over a thousand words a day.  Hire a cleaning service to come in twice in November or lower your standards of cleanliness for one month (I’m lowering my standards).  Buy a big tub of peanut butter and warn your family they’ll be fending for themselves or cook and freeze extra meals during October.  Alert your co-workers that you won’t be signing up to work extra in November, and don’t volunteer for any committees.  Take a look at every item on your schedule and ask yourself if it’s really vital that you do it that particular month.  Skip your book club meeting, but not your writing group meeting.  If you’re part of a critique group take a one-month break.  Buy extra underwear – laundry’s not going to get done as often.

— 5 —

Read a craft book or take an online class in October.  I’m going to re-read Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Debra Dixon and reviewing my notes from a Mary Buckman class on Pacing.

— 6 —

NaNo is a sprint, not a marathon.  Keep that in mind.  At the end you will have a rough first draft of a novel.  There will be grammar and punctuation mistakes that make you cringe, way too many adverbs, a lot of “telling” that needs to be “showing”, and at the very least your hero’s hair will be a different color in the beginning and the end.  Hopefully you’ll remain in the same Point of View, but if you don’t then you can decide which POV is better later.  You cannot go back and edit, make changes and repairs – none of that.  You will be writing straight though and then taking a chainsaw to your manuscript after it’s done.  And it might not be as bad as you think.

— 7 —

Set aside specific times every day for writing.  When are you at your most creative?  Some people get up early to write, some stay up late.  I’m more a mid-day person myself.  The last time I successfully completed NaNo I was working full-time.  I would write for thirty minutes while I ate my lunch every day – those words add up.

— 8 —

Prepare to save your data.  What if you’re writing the best scene in the entire book and your computer dies?  Set timers and backup your WIP regularly.  I back up to a thumb drive as well as Dropbox.com, because I did lose a thumb drive once during a tornado warning.  I found it in the basement a week later, but that was a stressful week.

— 9 —

Be open to the excitement of a truly supportive environment.  The only thing I can think to compare it to is if you’ve ever run a race where people are packed along the race route, cheering on every stranger who runs by.  It’s awesome.

— 10 —

Life happens.  The last time I tried to do NaNo I couldn’t complete it.  I didn’t even come close.  The “why” doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that I tried, I cheered on those who made it all the way to 50,000 words, and I’m ready to try again this year.  So who wants to write a book?


I’m sharing this post on Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings.


*This is a sponsored post but all opinions expressed are, as always, mine.

08. October 2013 by Angie
Categories: books, Creative Writing | Tags: | 5 comments

Comments (5)

  1. Great list! I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo but I know a lot of people really enjoy taking part. This is a great list of tips! Have a great week!

  2. Ok, ok, I’m gonna do it. I’m in preparation mode at the moment, but really what I want to do is start writing so I’ll be ahead 😉 That’s cheating though, isn’t it?

    • Yes, that is cheating, although we’re all tempted to do the same thing 😉 Develop your characters, outline your plot, jot down phrases and descriptions, scene ideas. Nov 1st the words will just come pouring out!!!

  3. MEMEMEMEME! I’m getting excited.

  4. I cannot even count how many times I *thought* about doing NaNoWriMo. Probably ever October for my entire adult life. Ha! Those darn kids, though, take up so much of my writing time. 😉 Maybe when they’re a little older and they can do the kids’ version (there is still one, right) we can tackle it together. Until then, I’ll probably just stick with blogging in the early morning while they sleep. Thanks for stopping by the blog. Have a great day.

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