A NaNo survival guide

It’s that time of year again. November starts next week, and November equals NaNo. You know, National Novel Writing Month? Where there’s a collective movement toward going absolutely insane?

For those of you who are unaware just what this insanity is, the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. You “win” if you manage to finish your project within the timeline. As you can see by the badge to the right, I “won” last year with my novel, Iron Jewel. In fact, I exceeded the word count by almost 30,000 and managed to finish with a week to spare. It was exhausting, nerve-wracking, and I am never doing it again.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! So here’s a few tips to get you through the month:

  1. Buy some wine. Buy a lot of wine. Consume said wine. Not only will it turn off your internal editor, it’ll help you relax.
  2. Prepare your friends and loved ones for the month by telling them what you’re doing. If the BF hadn’t been so understanding, I doubt I would have finished the story.
  3. Here’s where I screwed up-I ignored everything else. I spent all my spare time (and some of my not so spare time) glued to my keyboard. You gotta remember no one’s going to come after you if you fail to complete your project by November 30th. Take time away from the laptop. In fact, make your significant other drag you away periodically. Read. Watch a movie. Reacquaint yourself with your children. Play with the dog.
  4. Speaking of play, get outside, or at least, get to a gym. I’m willing to bet most of you sit on your ass all day at work anyway, so yes, do not skip exercise in favor of just a half hour more. I speak from experience when I tell you that half hour turns into an hour, then two, then before you know it you’re starving but it’s time for bed.
  5. Drink more wine.
  6. If you haven’t bothered to write up some kind of outline or synopsis, well, best of luck to ya. I am a pantser; I can’t plot a book to save my life, and I only write synopses under duress, and even then it’s after I’ve finished writing the damn book to begin with. But even I had character bios (which proved to be necessary) and a chapter by chapter outline (which I ended up largely ignoring). Without that, though, I doubt I would have been able to keep going. You’ll be so wound up, thinking you’ve got to write this big long novel in 30 days, that if you don’t have some sort of guide to go by, you’ll find yourself staring at Untitled Document, and soon it will be mocking you.
  7. Find buddies. Tons of Tweeps are NaNoing this year, so follow the hashtags #NaNo and #amwriting and make new friends. You can also connect with people on the official NaNo website. A number of people I know (either personally or through following on Twitter) are NaNoing this year, and I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous. Alas, my job was part of what made last year’s experience so stressful (it’s Annual Enrollment time! Have you signed up for benefits yet?) so I’ve decided to forgo NaNo in favor of sanity.
  8. Remember all that wine you bought? Yeah. Drink more of it.

There you have it. Some points to get you started. I’m pimping myself out as an unofficial NaNo cheerleader, so I’ll be following the hashtags and keeping people pumped about their word goals. Now go forth and novelize!

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