Tips on Surviving NaNoWriMo

NaNoWrimo is finally just around the corner. For those of you who don’t know what this amazing annual event is, check it out here. And sign up. Because you know you want to.

If you’d like tips on how to prep for this feat, check out Dread Pirate B’s post.

But if you’re really just searching for tips on how to actually survive the hard parts of NaNoWriMo, you’ve come to the right place.

This’ll be my ninth year participating in NaNo. I have seven wins under my belt and one fail, which we won’t talk about since I was freakishly close at 45,000 words anyway.

So if you’re among the thousands joining up to write a 50,000-word novel next month, check out these reminders on how to get through November.

Remember it’s fun

NaNoWrimo is a huge undertaking and it can be easy to keep an eye on the finish line because once you’re 30,000 words in…winning is everything. Many writers hit their slump around the middle mark of the month. Energy has waned and you can’t stop comparing yourself to others. If you fell behind (or even if you’re on track) there are going to be writers winning before you.

There’ll be writers who bust out 10k words that first day. One of my writing friends actually did that. We’re back on speaking terms now.

So while you’re working toward that goal, keep in mind that NaNo was created as something fun for writers. And we as a community just want to see you have a blast during this awesome endeavor.

Don’t edit as you go

I’m always surprised when I talk to writers who edit as they write. While impressive, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re attempting NaNoWriMo. There’ll be days when the words flow super smoothly and all your characters are behaving like they’re supposed to.

And then there are those other days. The ones where you barely eke out 100 words and you stare at a blank document for six hours. Where the book is going so obnoxiously wrong, you think if you just go back and edit the first 10,000 words, you could have something better.

Editing can slow you way down. I’ve met a lot of perfectionist writers (I’m one of them) who can’t stop tinkering with their story and this can mess you up during NaNo. Instead of spending your day writing 1,667 words, you’re cutting 100 and still not moving forward in your story.

Save your editing for December. Write in November.


Your draft won’t be perfect

I’m going to be honest here. I’m not a plotter. I usually dive head-first into NaNo without really knowing much about where my book will go. I have a general premise and that’s it for me. I usually come up with it in October.

Which is why I didn’t write the post on actually preparing for NaNo.

I know writers who have pages upon pages of outlines for their novels. And they end up veering way off course. Because it’s NaNo and they’re first drafts and it happens.

In fact, there’s a high chance the draft of your NaNo will be saved on your desktop for weeks before you’re prepared enough (or drunk enough) to read it over. You’re going to see glaring typos and plot holes and maybe even some terrible characterization. It’s a part of NaNo.

So why even do it?

Besides bragging rights? There’s a slew of reasons.

The whole purpose of NaNo is to write a book. It’s to make new writing friends who could turn into critique partners or beta readers. It’s to be able to tell someone that you wrote a book in only 30 days.

And it’s also about that really nice sticker you can put on your social media sites.

There are write-ins where you can meet authors who’ll understand why NaNo is both frustrating and exhilarating. There’ll be word sprints and late-night rants about how your book isn’t going according to plan.

Best of all, there will be your words. Your amazing, hurriedly-written, beautiful words that you will one day edit and use to change someone’s world.

I hope to see you there!


Tell us in the comments how you’re planning on surviving NaNo and feel free to connect with me on NaNoWriMo