It’s Time to Start Planning #NaNoWriMo

Hello,  SEers! It’s a Mae Day on Story Empire. Thank you for joining me.

In a few months, the writing world is going to embrace NaNoWriMo. If you’re new to the term, it’s a commitment that writers undertake each November. The goal is to write a 50K novel in thirty days. Accomplish that word count and you “win.”

Some writers participate every year. Some undertake the challenge once to experience what all the fuss is about, and others try it now and again. The best way to approach NaNo is to turn off your inner editor and write, write, write—then write some more. Forget about having tight prose, rich descriptions, strict POV, impeccable scene flow, and all the other polishing that makes a novel perfect. Fixing your manuscript comes later. In November the goal is to “vomit words” and create a story.

NaNoWriMo theme poster from 2019 shows old fashioned brass typewriter with blue background and sketches of hot air balloons

NaNoWriMo 2019 Poster

I’ve participated several times, “winning” twice, including last year. Unfortunately, the manuscript that I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2019 is unsalvageable. A total and complete mess. The good news is, I have several characters and a setting that I plan to use in a later project, so I benefitted from that crazy November.

This November, I plan to work on my WIP. Yes—you heard correctly. You don’t have to start a novel from scratch to participate. Traditional NaNo is done that way, but the goal is 50K regardless what you’re working on. That gives you the leeway (and permission) to stop sweating your current WIP and start unloading word count. Remember, you can fix the problem areas later.

Suppose, however, you want to start from scratch. Good for you! But don’t wait until November. In fact, you should be planning your NaNo project and strategy now. If you’re not already a member of the NaNo website, now is the time to join. Just follow this LINK. You’ll find the site chock full of helpful resources, including a whole section dedicated to NaNo Prep.

September is the time to start planning your story. Creating your characters, and constructing your plot and outline. You can find numerous tools and worksheets on the NaNo Prep section to guide you each step of the way.

You can even download the NaNo Prep 101 Handbook. What are you waiting for?

I admit NaNo is a massive undertaking, and yes, it can be stressful, but it’s something I recommend all writers experience at least once. It’s crazy, consuming, and fun! In October, I’ll be sharing tips on how to make the most of November and ensure you succeed at NaNoWriMo.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your experiences with this celebration of writing, and whether or not you plan to participate. Drop a few thoughts in the comments and let’s chat about it.

Ready, set, go!

Bio box for author, Mae Clair

68 thoughts on “It’s Time to Start Planning #NaNoWriMo

  1. This is my ninth year participating. It’s always very fulfilling, whether you “win” or not. It’s fun to interact with the community when everyone’s kind of in the same boat

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Andrew. I agree that the best part of NaNo is that everyone is participating together. It really brings a sense of community among writers. Thanks for stopping by to share your thoughts and best wishes for a great NaNo. Nine years is certainly something to be proud of!


  2. I missed this in September somehow, just saw it. Good luck with NANO! Hopefully, since you’ve started the story, you have everything in mind and all you’ll need to do is polish it at the end. NANO’s not for me, but 50,000 words in one month would be awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Kellie. As they say–it’s never to late to join in 🙂

      Congrats on your NaNo win. It is A LOT of work, but I think it’s rewarding, too. I’m not sure how I’m going to do this November. I’ve got a crazy month lined up with my day job, but I’m going to give NaNo a whirl. I figure even if I don’t win, hopefully I’ll add some word count to my WIP. Fingers crossed.

      Thanks for dropping by and checking out the post. I do love all the pre-excitement and prep! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Are you planning on participating again this year, Mae? I’ve read about this every year for 4 years since I started blogging but I know I can’t write 50 000 words in a month and I also know I can’t just write without researching and editing. It just isn’t me. I have started a new book, I didn’t intend to but my short story got longer and longer [same as with A Ghost and His Gold] and I’ve accepted defeat and will turn it into the longer story it requires, but not all in November.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Robbie. Yes, I’m planning on participating. I’m going to work on my current WIP in the hopes of adding 50K and finishing it—well, at least the first draft, because I know the end result will be messy. A lot of NaNo participants will spend September and October during their research and then writing in November, but it’s impossible to do without shutting off your internal editor. November is the only month I’m able to do that. I think it’s a head game I play with myself that month, LOL.

      Stories should be as long as they take to get told, and it sounds like your new short is taking the same path as A Ghost and His Gold. I don’t think you’re accepting defeat, so much as embracing where your muse is leading you, and that’s into a longer story. Cheering you on!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I did NaNo last year and won, but my WIP was horrific. I can salvage the characters and settings, most of the plot. I am debating on participating this year, I am not sure if I have the time with what I have currently going on. If I finish my prep, I am going to try.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hmmm. I can imagine what my finished product would look like if I tried this. I’m just not that quick! But there’s the crux, I guess – I’m not a writer; not really. I’m a hobbyist. A dilettante, my wife insists. I challenged her that she didn’t know what the word meant…she did! All the best with your WIP, 30 days or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve used Nanowrimo in a number of different ways over the years, Mae. And I’ve found it very motivating. Not this year though! I’ll be napping… (though I might outline a new book for 2021). Have a good one… more comedy or another paranormal thriller?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you’ve been making use of NaNoWriMo through the years, Diana. I still have your “ninny rhino” saved on my computer, LOL.
      I’m working on a straight mystery this year with just a hint of folklore attached to it. Probably why it’s taking me so long to finish it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I did the NaNoWriNo in 2017 and won but the second half was too messy because I did have family commitment of hosting the Thanksgiving dinner and a lot of preparation prior to the dinner. I didn’t and called it done. I did one Nano Camp and set my goal for 25K and I went over the word count. This is now my WIP.

    I download the NaNo 101, and bought the book of “30-day” writing guide so I can do it on my own in any month.

    I agree with you that this is a wonderful practice. Thank you for your post, Mae.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that it can be done in any month, Miriam. I noticed you can even track that on the website.
      It’s a great experience whenever you do it. I’m so glad you participated. My last NaNo project was really messy, too, but I did salvage a few things from it!


  8. in 2018 I attempted my first NaNoWrimo but unfortunately my laptop crashed and some of my absolute best work was written during that month. Good Luck with your adventure, hopefully I remember to back up my work this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Flossie, I love that you used to initiate NaNo programs in the library. That must have been so much fun!
      And, of course, heading to a writing career after retirement is a great path to follow. I’m glad you enjoy NaNo so much.
      And now I must make sure I have an adequate supply of K-cups come November, LOL!


  9. I have no idea if I’ll participate in NaNo this year as I already have two heavy commitments in November. But, I will say it is quite an incredible experience. I can at least proclaim that I did it once. I didn’t win, but I got a large chunk of my WIP written. Thanks for the reminder, Mae!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you experienced it, Jan. I think it’s wonderful for every writer to try at least once.
      I know your release is not that far away, and I were facing that (along with all the promo that goes with it), I wouldn’t attempt NaNo either.
      I’m glad you got a large chunk of your WIP written when you did participate. That’s what it’s all about!


  10. Every year #NaNoWriMo falls at the worst possible time. I’m either promoting a new title or racing toward the finish line with my WIP. Plus, I think I’m incapable of just spewing words with no editing. shrug Best of luck to you, Mae!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for luck, Sue. I’ll take that wish, LOL!

      NaNoWriMo is the ONLY time of year I can turn off my editor. I’ve tried to do a “NaNo” during other months and it just doesn’t work for me. I have to edit as I write. But come November, it’s like I’ve been given permission to let go of my need to edit. For some reason that head game works for me. Fingers crossed it does this year, too! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I don’t actually “do” NaNo, as I write a novel a month for work (usually) anyway, but I almost did it last year to write as me in addition to my work commitment. Then life happened and I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to take on another project. I don’t this year, either. Maybe next year.

    I love your graphic, BTW.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Is that a great graphic they came up with for last year’s NaNo? It spoke to me on so many levels.

      Given you already write a novel a month for your job, I can’t imagine taking on another project at the same time. It’s fully understandable why you didn’t tackle it last year and aren’t planning to now. Someday when you’ve got breathing room in November you may want to give it a try, but the reality is that you’re already doing NaNoWriMo every month of the year, which is freaking amazing!

      Liked by 2 people

    • That’s great you’re participating, Teri. My project last year was a bust too. Even though I hit 50K it was a disaster. I’m hoping by working on my current WIP, I’ll end up with better quality. Wishing you all the best with NaNo, too. Fingers crossed we both rock it 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the good luck wishes, Elizabeth. 🙂
      And you can always still give it a try. I had two years where I only lasted for 1-2 weeks before giving up. It’s rough, but fun. There’s a massive amount of energy with so many writers participating. If you do try (this year or later) I wish you all the best!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I’ve participated (and won) twice. I wrote my first novel with two Camp NaNo sessions (where you can set your own word count) and one NaNo November. I participated last year and went over 50K. Unfortunately, I put aside finishing and editing my WIP for a while – got sick in December, then came the dreaded 2020, but I’m working on the edits and finishing it now.

    I won’t be participating this year, but it is fun to do. And really, if someone has the time writing around 2K words a day isn’t difficult.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Congrats on all those wins, Joan! You’ve been very productive with NaNo.

      The dreaded 2020 has hit us all so hard, it’s understandable why you set aside your WIP for so long. I also think after focusing so intently on NaNo, it’s always good to put distance between yourself and your NaNo project.

      I’m hoping I can manage those 2K a day. I always start with an excellent word count, and then have issues mid month to the end of the month, when I start to run out of steam. I’m hoping by using my WIP as my NaNo project, this year will be different!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m a huge fan of NaNoWriMo, Mae! I’ve participated three times and each “book” went on to be eventually contracted. Once I commit to 1667 words a day, more on the weekend, I do it. No excuses! In the end, you have 50k words that are most likely a big mess, but it’s a great start. I have a book due in March, so I plan to participate in NaNo this year. People will often find an excuse…it’s too close to the holidays, I don’t have time…whatever. Just do it because at the end of November, it’s great to look back and see what you can accomplish with a little determination.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Wow, that’s fantastic, Jill! Writing all those books and then having all three contracted is inspiration for others! I’ve only “won” NaNo twice, but my first NaNo project went on to be a contracted book. I’m hoping I can do that again.

      It IS immensely satisfying to look back at the end of November and see what we’ve accomplished. It’s a rough writing month for me and I usually disappear off line to concentrate on NaNo, but I always enjoy the experience. I’m looking forward to November. Wishing you lots of luck and a new book for March! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  14. This is intriguing, Mae. I’ve not participated in the event, but now I’m intrigued. Thank you for the links and encouragement. I’ll explore the NaNoWriMo site and, just maybe, follow your lead. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ooo, Gwen, that is wonderful! I hope you check it out and consider joining in. You can find me on the NaNoWriMo site as “Myth Maven.” If/when you join, you can add friends to your profile to encourage you along, and see how they’re doing throughout the month. NaNo also gives you little “badges” to display when you hit certain word counts to encourage you along. There is a TON of resources and encouragement available.

      It’s definitely a lot of fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve always wondered how many stories created during this time are continued afterwards. Is it more for just experimentation and giving the author mojo a boost? I guess this time of year is when most people are starting to wear down in some fashion.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Well, the first book of my Point Pleasant series (A Thousand Yesteryears) was my first NaNoWriMo “win” and became a contracted novel. That’s obviously the goal each year, but when I look at my 2019 project it was unsalvageable. At least I have a couple of great characters from that one who will eventually find a home.

      I guess it comes down to the individual writer. According to Jill’s comment she’s turned every single one of her NaNo wins into contracted books. That’s the ultimate goal, but NaNo also does a great job of promoting writing. It’s a fun experience, but there is pressure involved too. Kind of like crunch time before a big exam, LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I haven’t yet taken part officially, but I wrote my book ‘Backstage’ in record time (about 15 writing days). One of these years, I will sign up for NaNoWriMo, though. It sounds like fun, even if stressful, lols.
    Sorry your manuscript from last year isn’t salvageable, but good news you can use some elements from it.
    Thanks for the tips on prepping, Mae 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • It IS a lot of fun, Harmony–and yes, a bit stressful, too, LOL!

      Given how fast you wrote Backstage, you’d dust NaNo. There’s still plenty of time to sign up and give it a whirl. I still have to log in my project for November. I guess I better get on that!

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Liked by 1 person

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