Prepare to Crush NaNoWriMo!

SEers, you can do it! Mae here with you today to tell you that you CAN crush NaNoWriMo! If anyone is not familiar with the abbreviation, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Write Month which happens every November. The goal is to write a 50K novel in 30 days. Accomplish that and you “win.”

What do you win, you may ask? Let’s take a look:
1. Surviving the month and achieving that lofty word count in 30 days
2. The right to crow about it (sure, why not?)
3. Having a messy novel or the guts of a novel to polish into shape
4. Undertaking a rite of passage for most writers (even for those who don’t win, this is an accomplishment)
5. The NaNoWriMo website usually offers discounted goodies to winners

Sounds good, right? So how do you win?

Sign up at the official NaNoWriMo website
Afterward, announce your novel. Yes, October is the time to do that. In fact, October is a busy prep month for anyone participating in November’s main event.

Follow the official Twitter feed
Stay current with announcements by following @nanowrimo and the hashtag #nanowrimo

Blog about your intention to participate
You’re more accountable if you’ve publicly stated you plan to undertake the challenge. And make no mistake—NaNoWriMo is a challenge.

Woman at laptop, open notebook and pen at her sideStart planing now
This is a big one. The more prep you do in October, the greater your chances of success in November. Flesh out your characters. Know their backgrounds, motivations, and goals. I’ve participated in NaNo three times. My first time out, I won. The next two times I failed miserably. Why the difference? My first time participating, I spent October creating character sheets, setting details, plot points, and scene maps. Which brings me to the next point.

PLOT!
Pansters, this is no time to be squeamish about the dreaded pre-planning. I never understood the value of plotting until my first experience with NaNo. I was always a dyed-in-the-wool panster. Right now I waver about 50/50. If plotting is hard for you, there’s plenty of wiggle room to make it work.

Pansters rely on one scene generating the next. The good news is you don’t have to plot the whole novel. When I won NaNo, I only plotted the first three chapters of my book. Nothing beyond that. But having those first three chapters ready to go (scene by scene), allowed me to start NaNo with a blast. That momentum was able to carry me through to the end.

Young woman hunched over laptop and open notebook, looking exhausted. Elbows on table, head in handsMaking word count
During NaNo, writers commit to making a certain word count each day. Try to stick to it but if you can’t, don’t throw in the towel! Allow yourself to fail occasionally. There will be rough days when you wail and moan and berate yourself for ever undertaking NaNo. If you can, make up your lost word count the next day. And remember there will be days when you exceed your word count, which gives you a buffer for those times when you come up dry.

Do not edit or reread
This is the hardest part of NaNo for me. My normal writing routine is to reread the last few scenes from my previous writing session. I also edit as I go. You can’t do that with NaNo. Your only goal should be to VOMIT words onto the page. If they’re crap, so what! You’re going to fix them later (December is NaNoWriMo fix-it month). Resist the urge to reread and edit. Trust me on this one.

Buddy up
Find out who else is participating and buddy up. You can do that through the NaNoWriMo website, through your blog, Twitter, Facebook and even regional write-ins. Get your group of buddies together, hold each other accountable, and support each other when the going gets rough. If you live in the States, November is a busy time with our Thanksgiving holiday, so adding the pressure of NaNo is no easy feat, but it is a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you win.

And here’s a final thought…

Many novels are longer than 50K. When I won NaNoWriMo I finished at 51K, but my book was only partially done. I set it aside for a few months, then picked it up again in June the next year and added another 30K. A Thousand Yesteryears, written during NaNo, remains my best seller even today.

Maybe you already have a novel started that has been languishing. Commit to finishing it—or adding 50K of word count in November. However you tackle it, you CAN crush NaNoWriMo. And after writing this post, I guess that means—gulp!—I’m going to have to participate this year. Whose with me? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments, including any past successes or attempts at NaNo.

Ready, set, go!

Bio box for author, Mae Clair

49 thoughts on “Prepare to Crush NaNoWriMo!

    • The good thing about NaNo, is you can do your own whenever you want. I know several writers who will do a “self-imposed NaNo” whatever month it suits them. There’s also a Camp Nano in July, that you may want to try. It’s definitely a fun experience!

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  1. I love NaNo to help me regain the “write every day” habit. I’ve even done my own NaNo during other months so I have a “reason” to get a draft done in a “reasonable” 30 to 60 days. Heh, sometimes the Jedi mind trick works 😀 I’ve got you on my buddy list, Mae!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve talked about doing this before. My only hold back is the holiday in the middle of it and having family, usually, here. That would lose me four days plus other prep days. I guess every month has something. You have good advice going into it to prepare. I think I’ll pass this year as I’m not in full writing, or anything, mode yet:)
    Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It happens every year, Denise, so you have plenty of opportunities if you decide to give it a go. My goal is (always) to hit 50K before Thanksgiving, because that last week is chaos, LOL. My wedding anniversary also falls at the end of the month, so I go into it thinking I’m going to finish in 3 to 3.5 weeks. It worked once! 🙂
      Fingers crossed I can do it again.
      And I’m sure when you focus on it and decide to try it, you’ll hit it out of the ballpark!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve never done NaNo before, but I tend to have a high word count everyday. The challenge for me (since I’m trying it this year) is to meet my daily word count requirements for work and then add to that total with my NaNo project. I’ll need the support. Fingers crossed for all of us!

    Liked by 4 people

    • That’s what I usually do to, Judi, but I never hold myself to a specific word count. I’ve got my fingers crossed I can pull off 50K in November. If I manage it, I’ll have a good start for a manuscript. Thanks for the well wishes!

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  4. I tend to avoid it like the plague. I’ve been known to write more than that in a month, but my life is too unstable to make the commitment. I’ll have published three books by the end of they year, so I try to avoid the extra stress. I know it works for some people, and I’m cheering for all of you. I love the idea of so many people at least experimenting with plotting their stories.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Craig! It can certainly be a stress factor. With the way you’re writing and publishing, you certainly don’t need the motivation.You’re doing just fine on your own.

      It does make you plot which is something I normally tend to shun. I’m hoping the more I do this, the better I’ll become at plotting.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I hear you, Jan. I’m a type A personality so I hate to fail as well. I never would have attempted this when I had publisher deadlines. I guess I’m replacing that deadline with a new one. I must be a glutton for pressure, LOL.
      And, of course, I WILL be stressed, no doubt! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • What fun! And that’s the perfect motivator for NaNo. If you decide to participate you have to let me know, so we can buddy up. I’m MythMaven on the NaNo site. I’ve started on my character and setting sheets and hope to hit the plotting hard this weekend. It really does help.
      Enjoy the retreat, Teri!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Definitely something to consider. I have never participated in NaNo. I did create an account this year, and I am going to give it a try. I do write a sparse outline, but I deviate from that many times. Good luck to all who participate.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m ready to go (well…mostly)! Need to get that pesky villain fleshed out. But I have plotted the book out. Also need to work on creating the world. I really enjoy NaNoWriMo. The hype keeps me motivated and the goal in a specific time period works well with my competitive nature. ☺️

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I partially wrote my first novel during NaNoWriMo and a couple of sessions of Camp NaNoWriMo. It was a convoluted mess and took a lot of editing but I finally published it. I’m participating this year – starting a brand new novel. Like you, I tend to be a panster but I’m spending much of October outlining, creating character sheets, and setting details. Since this will be the first novel in a new series, it’s important to get those things right.

    Best of luck and I’m looking forward to this adventure!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I love how you describe it as an “adventure,” Joan. What a perfect fit.
      Yesteryears took a lot of editing, too, when I was done, but I was surprised how much was useable, and the framework/guts were there. What a help in writing a book. Like you, I’m working on character sheets and setting details right now. Fingers crossed for both of us that we nail it in November!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Harmony, that’s awesome you’re kicking out word count like that! If you sign up you’re sure to nail it easily. Let me know if you do, so we can buddy up. I’m MythMaven on the NaNo site. It’s a lot of fun to participate. There are badges you can grab from the site for your blog and social media feeds too. I forgot to mention that, but already added one to my blog. The more participants the merrier!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Charles. It goes on a couple times. NaNoWriMo is kind of the Super Bowl event but there are also WriMos in April and July. They’re “camp WriMos” where you share a virtual cabin with other writers. Again, the goal is 50K. I’ve never tried either of those. July is a always a crazy month for me, but I’m thinking of possibility giving the April event a try one of these years. I like November because of the hype and excitement focused on the event.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, Jason could make for a very trying NaNo, LOL!

        It’s a good experience, Charles. The first year I participated, I was utterly clueless, but there’s really nothing to it. You just sign up, announce your book title on the site (working title) and then try to hit 50K before the month is up. I think it’s a fun experience, and there is plenty of hype to keep everyone motivated. If you decide to give it a whirl, let me know. I’m MythMaven on the site. There are a group of us participating, supporting one another as buddies. We’d be delighted to add you if you decide to try it.

        The site will also keep you informed with word count totals and goals each day so you can always see how you’re doing (and how your buddies are doing).

        Liked by 1 person

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