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Thursday, October 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo 101 Basics

Countdown to NaNoWriMo 2012!

      Yes, it is almost that time of year, when Lisa's thoughts turn to ones of writing 50k words in the month of November.  That lovely 30 day time frame that I and countless others know as, "NaNoWriMo" or National Novel Writing Month.   The goal is to write fifty thousand words in thirty days.  Hard you say?  Not really....especially when you break it down into 1667 per day.  And not when you consider that NaNoWriMo is for first drafts.  Which are called "Rough," for a reason.
      Years ago, a friend mentioned Natalie Goldbergs "Writing Down The Bones."  I read it, and others after from her, and found not only inspiration to write, but the that first drafts don't have to be pretty. They don't have to be publishable polished gems at the end of the month either.   The first draft phase is just to get the words on paper.
     Natalie came up with 5 rules for writing practices:

          1)  Keep your hand moving.  Don't let it stop, if you don't know what to write, write, "I don't know what to write," as many times as needed.  If it is a grocery list, write that.  As long as it is writing, it counts.

          2)  Lose Control- Don't worry about anyone seeing it.  Go for the jugular.  This is a first draft after all.

          3)  Be specific-  Honda Accord not Blue car.   Oak Tree, Levi's jeans.   These are the details that bring your character to life.

          4)  Don't think-  Go with your first thoughts.  Which I now sounds counter-intuitive, or wrong.  But it really does work, trust me...would I lie to you?   (don't answer that lol).

         5)  (and my personal favorite).  You are free to write the worst junk in the world/universe/cosmos.  The first draft is the place where you don't have to worry about punctuation, or that you got the characters name wrong.  This is the place where you are free to write whatever the heck you want to write.

    I also suggest getting into a sprint group, or just sprinting on your own.  There is one that I have started called "Sprinters Unite" on Facebook if you are interested in sprinting there.  Sprinting is usually 20 minute timed writing, where you just write as rough as you can.  The word count really adds up with them.

  If you are new to Nano, then there is some advice that this 4 time participant 3 time winner can pass on to you.  Make sure you get some away from the computer time.  Go for a walk.  Eat decent food and get enough rest.  Nothing kills creativity worse than not taking yourself!
  Another tip if you get stuck.  Move to another scene.  You can do this by putting asterisks and a comment like: "*Note:  This is an out of order scene, should go into Chapter X."

I also keep a sprint log sheet for the month.  That way I always know where I am at and where I should be.  There are calendars with the daily accumulative word counts on them, use them...they are really good resources to have.

Tomorrow (if I can), I will put up instructions on how to put together my sprint log.   I will definitely have it up the day after by the latest.  I may be travelling on a work assignment soon.  So I will try to get it on here in the next couple of days.

Happy Writing.


  1. I love NaNoWrimo, I completed my first ever NaNo last year and I'm pumped to do it again this year. I am not working on a new novel this year as I still have to finish my project from last year, so I'll be continuing with that. I write under the alias Imagine Anne Morgan and have a blog too. I'll be posting my NaNo stats for this year on my blog. I love this post by the way, thanks for sharing. This is the link to my blog, feel free to read and comment if you like.

  2. Hello Faith. Awesome to hear from you! Good luck this year. Thank you for the compliment, and you are most welcome! I'll check your blog out :)

  3. Though this is 2 years old, the same applies! :) Thank you!