Preppin’ For NanoWrimo

This is my first attempt at NanoWrimo and rather than read all of the helpful articles on the official website or take the advice of writers who’ve participated in the past and attempt an outline or a blurb or even just one of those useless character profiles, I’ve decided to simply wing it. If I just gave any of you OCD types a heart attack, just hold your horses. Just because I’m winging it doesn’t mean that I’m doing absolutely no prep for the event. I’m not going to sign up for a marathon and do nothing but buy a new pair of shoes. Actually I would probably do that, but trust me, I take writing much more seriously than I do most other things in life so here is how I spent the past week prepping for Nano.


1. Finishing the most recent draft of book #4!
Leaving this draft for after Nano would have been torture and even though I think I probably gave myself eye strain (the left one is all droopy and won’t stop twitching) I just can’t NOT finish things. It gives me heart palpatations and the kind of crippling guilt that sends me to Sonic at eleven o’clock at night for a Coconut Cream Pie shake. Not to mention, heading into Nano already feeling like I’ve accomplished something huge can only help my confidence. But probably most important of all, book 4 is the prequel to my Nano project and making sure it finally had a cohesive plot that had series potential will be essential to crafting the next part of the story. (See, I told you I wasn’t going in totally blind).

2. Binge Reading The Dream Thieves, The Book Thief, and City of Bones
Reading is a huge part of my prep for any project. There’s absolutely nothing more inspiring and these three books each exemplified a specific aspect of writing that I’m currently trying to master. Maggie Stiefvater is the queen of magical realism and everything she does is absolutely perfect, Markus Zusak has never written a stale, overused, or cliche phrase in his entire life, and Cassandra Clare’s (although I did give up on City of Bones once back in June) dialogue is spot on. But not only did these books inspire me, they also reminded me of the true freedom that comes along with fiction writing. I’m often guilty of getting so caught up in applying real world logic to my stories that it kills the magic. But the truth is, letting your imagination run free is the key to having fun. And when you enjoy what you’re writing, your readers will probably enjoy reading it.

3. Cleaning my apartment as if the in-laws were coming
Now this is one piece of advice I noticed on many blogs and decided to actually listen to. Nanowrimo seems to be the equivalent of a very productive and exhaustive hibernation in which, instead of waiting out the cold, writers wait for absolutely nothing–not even inspiration. I know that I’ll be sitting at my desk probably eight hours a day, my fingers whittled to the bone, my hair like a steaming patch of velcro on top of my head. Forget cooking and cleaning. Thanksgiving can cook itself this year. And while some of the horror stories of Nano’s past might seem a little over-dramatic, I only clean once a month anyway so why not do it now in honor of a month that’s sure to have my neighbors calling pest control at least once a week.

4. Writing a shit ton of blog posts
Blogging during November? Oh. No, no. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Instead, I’ll be squeezing out as many posts as I possibly can today and then start posting a bunch of nonsense when they run out.

5. Letting go of Breathing Ghosts and wiping the entire story from my memory
It’s a pretty standard practice for me. Usually I publish a book and then it vanishes into the ether and eventually I can’t even remember what the hell it was about. With Breathing Ghosts, I did much more promotion than I’d done in the past for any of my other books, and I allowed myself just one month after its release to obsess over sales and reviews. And when I say obsess I mean refresh Goodreads and my sales pages every thirty seconds. During that time it was almost impossible to get any work done. I met my deadline for book 4 but the truth is I could have done so much more. But the thing is, I know myself too well. I knew that I would lose my mind a little bit and for four weeks I let myself. But now it’s time to move on. I won’t be able to fully immerse myself in what’s next if I can’t let go of the past. So I’m letting go. Right now. Okay…so tonight at midnight. I’ll let go. Promise.

6. The Pep Talk
There are a lot of demons sure to rear their ugly heads during Nano. Guilt. Self-doubt. Comparison. But I’m prepared to combat them all with one simple mantra. Because when I’m stuck, whether that’s because I think everything I’m doing is shit or because other people are knocking out that word count like its their job or because I just can’t see the finish line and therefore am not even sure that there is one or because, after three books, I’m still waiting for my moment or because I should really be looking for a real job instead of indulging in this dream, or whatever other bullshit lies I keep telling myself, all I really need to know is this–Passion is no accident. And if I figured it out before, I can do it again.

So that’s my newbie method for prepping for, and hopefully surviving, Nanowrimo. What’s yours?


10 thoughts on “Preppin’ For NanoWrimo

  1. Good luck! I’m giving it a second go this year. I tried once a couple of years ago and failed spectacularly, so I’m all in this year. I’ve kicked around the idea that I’m tackling this year for a few months now, fleshing out the characters, world, and plot some. I’m going into NaNoWriMo with a thin outline and prayer. We’ll see how it goes.

    • Good luck!! And we’ll definitely have to compare end results and see if your more prepared approach works better than my decision to just fly by the seat of my pants! The great thing about Nano though is that you can make it whatever you want it to be and use it to accomplish any goal, even if it’s not 50 thousand words.

  2. Two sentences in this post stuck out to me for different reasons: “Passion is no accident,” because that’s great and motivating and makes me feel like writing is my purpose. And the one about the coconut cream pie shake because, WHAT?? That exists? I need one now!

    Good luck with NaNo! I tried last year and realized it’s not for me. I think that going at it without prep is a good idea. Just see what happens. Then, if you want to do it again next year, you’ll know what to do differently.

    • Yes!!! I remind myself of that all the time! And coconut cream pie shakes are sort of my kryptonite. They’re better than chocolate, I swear it! It’s not on the menu but you can still order one. Hopefully Nano won’t be so stressful that I’ll be secretly gorging on them all month, but who knows. I read your post on Nano and agreed with a lot of what you said and many of those were the same reasons I never participated in the past. It just worked out that I was going to start my next WIP this month and I thought, why not take a chance and just try Nano and see how it goes. So that’s the approach I’m taking, nothing too serious. Especially since, for me, it’s not necessarily about winning or losing. I know my book won’t be finished at just 50K anyway so there’s not that pressure to feel like I have to write the entire thing in just 4 weeks. I am hoping, though that the environment will provide just the right push I need to get back to writing every day.

  3. Life has been absolutely insane for me over the past couple of months, which has left very little time for me to write. So one would imagine I’d skip NaNoWriMo this time around, right? Wrong. I decided a couple of days ago I’m going into NaNo this time around with more of a sense of winging it, and getting a project off the ground, rather than pushing for a 50K and writing pure gibberish. I’m setting my own rules for the month, so to speak.

    Hey, feel free to buddy me on the NaNo site – I’m here:

    • I’m definitely taking a similar approach and tailoring the experience to fit my life. I look forward to it helping me get a project off the ground as well but I don’t expect to finish with something spectacular. It was really just coincidence that I’d be starting a new WIP in November so I’m not taking the whole thing too seriously, or at least so seriously that I neglect showering for a month. I’m just looking forward to a new and interesting experience. By the way, just buddied you! Thanks for the link!

  4. Good luck! I’m considering signing up for it this year to finish revising my WIP, but I don’t know if I can justify it with exams over the next couple of weeks. Hope it goes well!

  5. I’ve been meaning to attempt NaNo the past few years but something always gets in the way. This year it’s editing, and I don’t think I’m good enough to split my attention between two stories yet. But best of luck, and hope you have fun with it!

    • I prefer not to work on more than one thing at a time as well which is one of the reasons I never purposefully made time to participate in the past. Luckily it just worked out that I’d be starting my next WIP today so I thought I’d finally give Nano a try. I was busy all last week getting the latest revisions done on my fourth book and now that that’s done I can jump into Nano with a clear head. Hopefully it will be a good experience.

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