Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My 10 Tips for NaNoWriMo

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo - or National Novel Writing Month. Writers across the world are attempting to write 50,000 words in a month - which may not be an entire novel, but it's certainly a big bite of one.

Last year, I was one of those writers. Here's what I learned:

10. Quality doesn't count. Quantity does. (that's what editing is for)

9. I wrote without an outline, which was a freeing experience, but not one I'd want to repeat. Why? Too many repetitions... (ironic, isn't it?)

8. Don't worry about character names. I had one character called Klutzy-Girl.

7. Keep track of where you are in the word-count and remember every word is one word closer.

6. Don't expect perfection - expect a really rough first draft.

5. Channel your inner Dory - Just keep writing, writing, writing...

4. Have a secret supply of coffee. Trust me.

3. And chocolate. Trust me more.

2. Let your fingers do the walking and some days they'll dance.

1. Cursing at the computer screen is part of the experience. (or at least it was part of mine) Have fun!


  1. Elspeth - Ah, important lessons, indeed. I haven't participated in NaNoWriMo, myself, but I'd guess one of the most positive things about it is that it frees the writer from feeling the need for perfection in the first draft. That's important. So is the coffee. And the chocolate.

  2. As someone who has never figured out how to start with an outline, I find NaNoWriMo the perfect way to get a draft started if not finished. And I think #5 is the key to it all (plus Dory is great!). I got started on my novel this morning...

  3. Margot; I still fight that need for perfection no matter what the number of the draft!

    Kit; I so admire writers like you. Good luck!

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  6. I don't really use an outline, but I do try to plan about 4 or 5 main "events" that happen, get to know my characters really well, and let them decide how they get to these events and what shape those events take. Often, they take shape differently than I expected, but it's usually better than if I had forced the characters to do my bidding.

    I like number 5. Channel your inner Dorry :D

    Only thing I'd add is Let your characters surprise you. It's more fun that way :D

  7. I churned out 1600 words before lunch, then gobbled up a half cup of chocolate covered almonds. It's possible NaNoWriMo is going to be very bad for my diet.

  8. Klutzy-girl - this sounds like something you must read.

    I don´t intend to participate, partly because I never have time in November, partly because I don´t eat chocolate - and that is probably why I cant produce so many words every day ;)

    Dorte H.

  9. Great list! Especially the chocolate <3

  10. Posts; It sounds like you've found what works for you. Terrific!

    Pat; We must all suffer for our art.

    Dorte; I don't know how much chocolate really has to do with it, but if it works, I don't question it.

    Anne; Glad you liked it!

  11. I think I may already be obsessed with my word count button ...


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