Monday, October 25, 2010


Because we only have one week to go . . .

Ten Things to Try When Writing Your NaNoWriMo Novel

Arrange Your Writing Time: Let family and friends know that you're participating in NaNoWriMo, as well as what time(s) you'll be writing. Ask them to help you reach your goal by not visiting, calling or otherwise interrupting you when you're working on the novel. Likewise arrange your writing time so it doesn't inconvenience them (for example, getting up an hour early or staying up an hour late allows you to write while everyone else in the house is sleeping. A quiet spot at work where you can write during your lunch hour is also good, so is making your writing time while the spouse is at work and the kids are in school.)

Chase Off the Blues: Depression is pretty common among writers (must be the isolation) and 99% of the time it doesn't help the work. If something in your life has you blue, let NaNoWriMo a thirty-day vacation from worrying about it. Focus on the fun of having a month off to write whatever you want, and if you're inclined, join in some group activities (discussion boards, chat rooms, or list-servs dedicated to NaNo'ers are good places to check out.)

Create a Playlist: A story soundtrack can help inspire you, especially when you're away from your writing space and want to think about your novel (I burn a CD with a special playlist for every one of my books and keep the CD in the car for as long as I'm writing it.) Go through your music collection and the songs that help you visualize the characters, the time period, the setting or some other story element (or if that doesn't work for you, choose songs that simply make you feel upbeat, happy and/or energetic when you hear them, and make a mood playlist.)

Cut the Story Apron Strings: For these thirty days, you should be the only writer in your writing space. So unless you need to reference research materials while you're writing, remove all books from your writing space (this goes for all those wonderful keeper books you read when you're blocked to jumpstart your own writing.) Also to avoid echoing another writer's voice or story, don't read in the genre you're writing in during the month of November.

Dress to Write: Put together some writing outfits that are comfortable to wear while you're working at the keyboard. Avoid things that bind, itch, or constrict your limbs. My feet always get cold easily, and for some reason I can't write when I'm barefoot, so I keep a good stock of warm/soft fuzzy socks.

Eat to Write: Writers often feel sluggish or sleepy at the keyboard, and sometimes this is because they try to write immediately after eating a big meal. If your health and diet allow, have just a light snack before your writing time (or wait until after you're done writing to eat.) Avoid snacking in your writing space to keep those pesky crumbs out of your keyboard, too.

Remove Distractions: Unless you need noise in order to write, anything that makes a sound or projects images (televisions, cell phones, radios, video games, etc.) should be turned off while you're writing. If you can unplug your house phone or have someone in another room answer it, do that, too. If you're a texting addict, let your circle of cell friends know you won't be available during your writing time (Twitter will still be there once you've gotten your words down for the day.)

Reserve Some Think Time: Take a couple of minutes before you start writing to think about the work ahead. Run the scene or chapter you're planning to write through your imagination and try to visualize it. Clear out everything else that is on your mind that isn't related to the novel.

Separate Your Writing and Editing Time: One major roadblock to writing can be backtracking and editing as you write. I know this works for some writers, but if you discover this habit slows you down or prevents you from making any real progress, try dividing your time at the keyboard into two phases: write first, edit second.

Unclutter Your Writing Space: One of the things I found surprising about other writers after I finally met some in RL is how much clutter they acquire and try to work in. Imagine going to an office building and seeing all that crap piled around the people who work there; you'd think they only hired hoarders. Clutter may give a sense of safety, ala nesting, but too much can hamper your ability to effectively use your workspace. So before November try cleaning off your desk and move all the office supplies to a closet or cabinet, and relocate all the buttons, ribbons, paperweights and collages to another room (bookcases are great places to display your stuff.) You don't have to throw out your treasures, but moving all non-essential stuff out of your writing space can provide a feeling of newness or making a fresh start. If your space feels too barren, add one or two bits that will visually inspire you but that you don't have to climb over to get to the keyboard.


  1. Good suggestions. I'm yet to find my music soundtrack for writing. If it's too serene I find myself getting antsy at the keyboard because I'm board. If it's too boppy I find myself singing (and sometimes dancing) along, which doesn't help the word count. I'll keep searching though :-)

  2. Thank you for the advice!

    Although I write better with a full stomach, dunno, why, I just do. Maybe it boosts up my energy?

  3. I don't do Nano, but this advice is wonderful for any writing time!

    I recently moved my home office to a different room and removed all the clutter. My writing has blossomed.

  4. Excellent suggestions, Lynn. I actually signed up for real this year, so I'm doing everything I can to insure my success. Good luck to you and everyone else who's participating. =o)

  5. Excellent suggestions! Thanks. This is my first NaNo, so I need all the good advice I can get!

  6. My favorite "soundtrack" is the white noise generator at - music sidetracks my thought process, which is good when I'm trying to relax, bad when I'm trying to write.

  7. Thanks for the advice. :) And you are so right about separating writing and editing time from each other...too often I slow down during NaNo because I'm busy going over what I've already written. Alas, this year I shall go full speed ahead, never turning back!

    I make soundtracks for my novels too. :) Indeed, they're very inspirational!


  8. Great suggestions! I haven't thought of the one with the soundtrack. It would be really nice to have one. I'm going to work on it, too, in the remaining days before start. It's my first NaNoWriMo, I'm overexcited already.