Show Us Yer (NaNo) Tips

November means something important to writers worldwide; firstly, if you are in a relationship with a man, you need to be much more aware of moustache rash possibilities. Or, if you are a man, that you should ensure when eating/drinking, food does not remain in your newly acquired facial hair (a serious issue for many virgin ‘tache growers).

Also, it is NaNoWriMo time! This will be my second year of NaNo fun, and I think it really is a good event. No, you may not write anything you’re even remotely proud of, but it’s nice to focus on creating a manuscript with the support of a group of like-minded people. You really push yourself to try and bang out the 50,000 words before the month is up, which is perhaps the reason I like NaNo most of all – it gets me in the habit or prioritising writing at a time of year when it’s easy to neglect it.

As an official survivor, I thought I’d share my top five not-particularly-ground-breaking NaNo tips for any newcomers to the field:

1. Do not hit delete. Do NOT hit delete. Sure, it can be tempting to just wipe out pages and pages of what, in retrospect, is far from your finest work, but deleting is simply not worth it. Keep persevering and write better, learning from your mistakes. Worst case scenario: you delete what you wrote in your December edits and your ms is none the lesser. Best case scenario: you end up learning from your mistake. The next 1,667 words are all harder, better, faster, stronger, Kanye style. And you can’t argue with Kanye (just ask Taylor Swift).


Photo: Wikipedia

2. Plan as you go. If you’re a plotter, please ignore this advice but, speaking as someone who did NaNo in 2011 using the good ol’ fashioned pantsing method (never again, by the way!) I have but one piece of advice: keep a separate document with the scenes and character details you’ve written so far. This will save you much embarrassment when you reread your document in December (Hmm, who is this new character named Adam? Oh, that’d be it. Halfway through the novel I forgot Luke’s name and renamed him… And gave him three fingers instead of four… Hmm…)

3. Join a NaNo support group. Whether you’re meeting up in person, you’re corresponding online or you speak on the phone, having other NaNo friends is invaluable. If you’ve not made writer friends yet, you definitely should. Writer people are the best people 🙂 And they often can teach you lots of cool stuff, share news about events and competitions with you and generally “get it” when you vent – unlike your family, who understand, but also may quietly label you nerd.*

4. Stock up on supplies. If I keep up my 1,667 words per day, it’s going to be a hard slog. In a world of work, family, friends, study and puppies, it can be hard to find time for a text message, let alone a novel; which is why, during November, I say goodbye to the rules. As long as I keep hitting that word count, all the coffee, chocolate and wine I can consume before guilt and self-loathing kicks in are mine. Sometimes, the coffee and the wine are necessary to complete the 1,667 words in the first place! (And sometimes the wine kicks my butt… but that’s another story).


Photo: Rolling (if only I could get a wine sponsorship from these guys…)

5. Edit, edit, edit. When NaNo is finished, it’s important to edit. Don’t throw it out, even if you think it’s got no hope as a story. File it away, let time pass, then revisit it with fresh eyes in the new year. There are many NaNo publishing success stories, and there’s no reason yours shouldn’t be one of them! Just make sure you don’t query in December… That’d just be embarrassing.

*This applies to me specifically. And it’s because I am a nerd. Your family may think you’re normal.

What about you? Do you have any fabulous NaNoWriMo tips?


3 thoughts on “Show Us Yer (NaNo) Tips

  1. Great tips. Except for the part where you admitted to being a pantser. I support free will but by God if you don’t plan out your NaNoWriMo novel before beginning I *will* have your ass.

    But otherwise a great article reminding participants to save all the writing even if it is junky. Never delete. Always save. 🙂

    • Oh my God, Rebecca, if I had known!! It was the utmost of rubbish – ridiculous! I can take a few scenes from it, but when I compare it to the structured things I write now – and especially compare to when I thought I was ‘so organic’ – eeewwww!!! Will Neve write without proper research and development again!

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