Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNo Notes

NaNo 2009 and a month of literary abandon officially launched yesterday. Over 100,000 writers signed up to take the 50,000 word challenge. I thought I'd share some of my notes from last year from this month's Romance Writers United's "Write Right" newsletter.

*If anyone would like a copy of this month's informative RWU newsletter, contact me at I will be happy to forward!*

It’s November again and writers everywhere are gritting their teeth and downing copious amounts of caffeine. Why? Because November 1st marks the first day of National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNo.

2008 marked my first NaNo year. I hadn’t written a full-length novel in over twelve months so NaNo seemed like the perfect way to get my muse back in shape. When November 1st rolled around, I was feeling a mix of high anticipation and impending doom. I’d never pantsed a day in my life. The goal is to write 50,000 words in one month. Whether I knew my next plot point or not, I had no choice. I had a loud cricket on my shoulder guilting me out of procrastination and back to my new MS Word document. I just barely scraped by that 50,000 mark at midnight on November 30th. I fell behind in the third week thanks to the first holiday rush at my day job. With the help of Jiminy and a husband who offered to sling wet noodles whenever he saw me slacking in my free time, I came out of NaNo victorious!

I’ve met quite a few writers who are doing NaNo for the first time this year. The last 2009 count for NaNo was 78,000 and growing. I thought I’d share a few notes-to-self from the trenches to help get first-timers in gear:

#1 – You must write 1667 words today. If you don’t, you’ll be forced to write 3334 words tomorrow. And while NaNo’s website claims 1700 isn’t physically impossible, 3334 might just be.

#2 – It helps to have a coach. Prior to this year and last year’s NaNo, I asked my husband to keep me on my toes. I gave him a title, too, which he seemed to like: The Muse-Buster! First though, I warned him I might hate him at some point. Also bought him a hard hat and some Kevlar.

#3 – Be prepared to live, breathe, and eat your characters. Okay, well maybe not eat – but you know what I mean! You go to bed thinking about them and the story and wake up the same way. You dream about them—more than you already do. Your fingers will do the typing motion in your sleep. If you’re desperate to get away, you must remind yourself that procrastination won’t come until December 1st – and oh how sweet that day will be if you’ve got those fresh 50,000 words under your belt (or on your back-up hard drive) and you’ve silenced that cricket on your shoulder.

I gathered more advice from veteran NaNo writers around the web. Here’s some of their advice:

Pace yourself. Daily word count is 1667 - if needed do it in 10 minute increments throughout the day.
- Delilah K. Stephans

Plan easy meals for your family. Realize they will survive without you for a month. Remember it is only 1667 words a day.
- Jill James

Write at the same time, for the same amount of time, every day, and eliminate all distractions.
- Kelly L. Stone

If anyone else has any advice or thoughts on NaNo, email it to I’ll add it to weekly encouragement posts at The Cozy Page ( throughout the month of November!

Here’s to literary abandon!

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