Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo Success--It Can Be Yours!

When it comes to NaNoWriMo, I'm a believer.

My first NaNo year was 2010. I did it. I wrote my whole novel in one month. Then I spent the next year revising it and running it through my crit group--the amazing Sharks and Pebbles. Then I sold it to a publisher and it's coming out in February.

I am a SLOW writer. If I can do it, anyone can!! You just have to find the NaNo method that works for you.

So, in case anyone out there finds this helpful, here are some tips that work for me:

~ Some great advice I picked up I can't remember where is to take the first 5 minutes of each NaNo session and brainstorm a few BRIEF bullet points of what needs to happen in your plot next. You only need to worry about the next scene or two. Once you have that, it's A LOT easier to get those words out. 
I'm not much of an outliner in general because things change so much as I write. But if I take these 5 minutes to plot out the near future, it makes a huge difference in how quickly I meet my daily goal.

~ DON'T SELF EDIT! Everyone says this because it is the hardest rule to stick to. If you feel you've written something awful or derailed the plot, just strikethrough those paragraphs to remind yourself you hate them, then move on. That way you still get the word count, and if you change your mind later and decide keep them, there they are!

~ Keep your fingers on the keyboard! It's so easy to simply stop typing and lean back to think, or check Facebook or twitter, or go get a snack. Resist! Keep those fingers on the keyboard and type away. If you're not sure what comes next, just keep typing the scene you're in, even if it will all be deleted later.  
I had a scene where my two main characters were eating, but I wasn't sure what needed to happen next, so I dragged out the meal, describing in detail the most mundane parts about their burgers and fries. It kept me writing until the inspiration on how to move on finally came. NaNo is an exercise in free-flowing thought, not creating a masterpiece in one month.

Find what motivates you. For me, it's watching that little target bar in Scrivener slowly change from red to green. 

Please, please, please share your tricks and secrets for a successful NaNoWriMo!!

Happy writing!


  1. Thanks for the suggestions! I wrote an outline this year, which is helping me keep on track, but I am still very behind! I'm not worrying about word count anymore, though, because it is taking the fun out of the writing process.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  2. I'm a slow writer as well, but I think I can do it. I also have tell myself not to edit! It's so hard.

  3. These are good points. Self-editing is my toughest hurdle. I have allowed myself the option to read through what I've just written, once I've made my goal for that session, and make minor edits. I know, it's still taking time away from writing, but I've come a long way. I've made notes in the margins (I use Scrivener) and have highlighted a few things to go back on. I also wrote out a very basic outline, but I like your idea of bulleting out a few plot points for each session.

    What's helped me this time around as well is aiming for shorter chapters and giving each chapter a goal. Even if I axe it later the goals help me get to the pieces of the story I need to accomplish.

    Now back to NOT editing!

  4. You know how much I love NaNo! Even if my first drafts are so rambly and terrible, I love the deadline and that little Scrivener bar go from red to green. Mine is orange already!

  5. But in some cases, it does create a masterpiece, not only free-flowing thought :)