Will you be boarding the NaNo Train?

NaNoWriMo 2012 is almost upon us. For those who’ve never heard of it, let me enlighten you. NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – click this thing to visit their website, is a competition of sorts whereby all aspiring writers are invited to write their brains out for 30 days in November.

The aim is to complete 50,000 words of a novel, quality is not an issue but quantity is. Think of it as the golden opportunity to get that story out of your brain and into existence once and for all.

Maybe you’ve been kicking around a story for a while, even years, but never thought of tackling it. Well now’s your chance, dear blog reader! Grab it while you can and don’t let go until that word count hits the big five-oh-oh-oh-oh!

Ooh, okay, you got my attention, now what?

Simples! Follow the link above, click the Start Here link, register your stuff with NaNoWriMo, confirm your account via an email, then get yourself a profile and give your novel a name. The fun starts on 1st November but before then it’s probably worth stocking up on supplies, more on that in a moment. First some interesting statistics on NaNoWriMo 2011!

In 2011:

256,618 people took part in NaNoWriMo.

36,843 cranked out 50K words and crossed the finish line at midnight November 30th. I was one of them with 84,000 words of an incomplete novel. Big sideways smiley face for me! These lucky, hard-working writing maniacs were entered into the NaNoWriMo Hall of Fame, thereby gaining the elusive NaNoWriMo Certificate of Awesome Writerness!

(I gotta say writing NaNoWriMo over and over never gets any easier without spelling it wrong. Trust me, the spell check doesn’t like NaNoWriMo, but it equally dislikes NaNowiMp, NaOnWeiMo, NaNiWrMop…you get the picture!)

These hero’s of the written word started out as mechanics, plumbers, estate agents, factory workers and traffic wardens, and yes they were allowed to enter. Every one of them walked away novelists – life long members of Imaginationland.

Seems like hard work, Davey Boi.

Nah. Don’t sweat it dear novel writer. Don’t think about the 50,000 word jungle of words because for some it’s simply too daunting. Break it down into bite-size chewy, tasty chunks of 1,666 words a day. Much better right? If you’re a blogger then it’s likely you’re used to cranking out stuff for your fans to chew with their hungry eyeballs. Think of your word count for an average blog post – more than 1,666 words? Well instead of writing that once or twice a week, just dedicate yourself to doing it every day.

You’re Not Alone!

You’ll be joining people from all around the world, in some cases quite literally as many regions organise write-ins, gatherings in local cafe’s etc where they cheer each other on to achieve their daily word goal. The NaNo forums are very lively so jump in and find/give support to your fellow Wrimo’s!

You can keep in touch with other word cranking writers on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/nanowrimo and Twitter – https://twitter.com/nanowrimo too, so there’s always someone to chat with/moan at/support/complain about sore fingers.

I can personally vouch for the Twitter method. Last year I enjoyed quality evenings doing Word Sprints with fellow Wrimo’s. Using hashtags –  #nanowrimo for example – you can challenge other Wrimo’s to a timed word count deadline, say 30mins, where you write like a crazy person then share your score. It’s ace fun!

Help! I don’t know what to write about!!

Seriously? You’re still reading this post so I hope I’m not wrong in assuming you must have an inkling of a story idea. Whether you have a complete plot set out in your head or even on paper, or just a vague notion of a character/plot/scene/opening sentence or final heart pounding ending, that’s all you need.

Last year I wrote a bunch of posts leading up to and during the big event. Take a peak at the links below for hands hints and creative juiciness!

Caution: Novelist at Work! – What’s NaNoWriMo all about?

Write the NaNoWriMo Way! – How to drown your doubt demon!

NaNoWriMo Preparation Tips – Calm down, take a deep breath!

My Novel Ideas – How I brainstormed my 2011 novel ideas.

NaNoWriMo Winners Badge, But what next? – What to do when you’ve sprinted to the finish line.

You mentioned stocking up on supplies?

Um. Oh yeah. I did. Speaking from experience it’s worth thinking ahead to the big month and what you might need to get through it. Some of you might crave the crazy write-when-I-can-where-I-can method, but others might prefer a sedate and calm environment.

If you’re of the former I applaud your sense of adventure and raise my hands in a solo Mexican wave! You clearly thrive on the edge, flipping open a laptop at the most bizarre times to throw down words in new and interesting ways.

However, if you’re of the “I need my special place” school of thought I suggest taking a look at my supplies list from 2011 and see if any of them jump out at you in a surviving the jungle of words kind of way.

  • Gel Pad wrist rest.
  • Pepsi Max. Chilled.
  • Cream soda. Chilled.
  • Ice cubes.
  • Jelly Belly jelly beans.
  • My Grammar and I book.
  • Lava lamp for staring at.
  • Music. YouTube. Spotify. Not iTunes. I don’t like iTunes.
  • Pad and pen.
  • Extra pens.
  • Coloured pens.
  • Chunk of Playdoh. White. Coloured ones make my fingers look funny.
  • Caffeine products. Mountain Dew Energy. Red Bull.
  • Choccies.
  • Silly hats. They make me feel happy.

Now depending on your needs/wants there are plenty of other items to place on your list:

  • Wine – can be soothing, relaxing etc but don’t go guzzling the bottle or you’ll write this: “Hehshsga hsssgh ! ahsssh @ #¬ app!”
  • Headphones – so you don’t abuse others with your loud thrash metal, drum and base, opera, dubstep thumping beats.
  • MP3 player – for use with the above.
  • Inspirational/Mood music – to be piped into your headphones, or if your family/neighbours/village don’t mind, a huge pair of speakers.
  • Chapstick – actually for sore fingertips.
  • Choccies – everyone likes a choccy now and then, so why not reward yourself when you hit your daily word count?
  • Stress reliever toy – for when you want to punch the screen.
  • Nibbles and snacks – because writing can be as much fun as watching a movie, seriously.
  • Pizza menu – for when you absolutely can’t leave your screen to go cook.
  • Wine – um, see #1.
  • Favourite wine glass / mug – we’ve all got one, admit it.
  • Pre-cooked meals to zap in microwave – maybe move your microwave next to your PC?
  • Empty dishwasher – because washing up is a chore at the best of times.
  • Clear desk of junk – start with a clean slate in both senses.
  • Coffee – for that lovely caffeine rush at 4am.
  • Hot chocolate. Marshmallows. Cream. Sprinkles – for when the heating goes off at 1am and you’re still writing.
  • Inspirational poster – YOU CAN DO IT Yoda/kitty in sunglasses playing the guitar/mountain climber/baby elephant crossing a river.
  • NaNoWriMo t-shirt – these are pretty cool, makes you feel part of a cult team.
  • “Well Done!” stickers – Post-Its work just as well.
  • Aspirin – for when the wine/caffeine/nicotine gets too much.
  • Comfy slouchy clothes – the Onesie is popular at the moment.
  • Big “NOT NOW – LATER” sign – stick on your door, back of head, t-shirt etc.
  • Ice cream – Bailey’s Haagen Dazs is my favourite.
  • Wine.
  • Coffee.
  • Nicotine – smoke em if you got em, slap on a patch if you prefer.
  • Tea.
  • Eye drops – ahhhh refreshing!
  • Lucky underwear – like the wine glass / mug thing, only with pants.
  • Lucky pencil – mine is kinda chewed but in a cherished way.
  • Lucky socks – fluffy, ankle, chunky, knee-length, whatever floats your boat.
  • Blanket or other snuggly thingy – because it’s nice to be snuggled up.
  • A “You Can Do It” Post-It Note – write them daily then screw them up and write another the next day.
  • A “Don’t Give Up Now” Post-It Note – see above.
  • Stack of Post-It Notes.

So, Dave, are you going for it this year?

Nice of you to ask, dear novel writer. I am indeed. I have an idea for a novel. Nothing written down as yet, just an idea. I’m still working on the latest draft of my big project, The Range, which I intend to finish before November starts. As NaNo approaches I’ll be posting more junk about NaNo – ideas, prompts, tips, and all that jazz.

My advice to you at the moment is not to worry about the quality of your writing during NaNo. You can edit to your hearts content later on. This is all about squeezing that lovely story stuff out of your noggin. Just keep writing. For me, ideas come at night, mostly. I keep a pad and pen near my bed and PC so I can jot things down when they come a knockin.

So, the big question is: Will you be boarding the NaNo Train this year?

Write for you. Write with passion. Love it. Live it.

26 thoughts on “Will you be boarding the NaNo Train?

    1. Yay! Good for you Joss! Last year we had #NaNoTeamIndy on Twitter, not sure if I should start a little group like that this year. I’ll have a think about it. Glad you’re taking part, I wish you all the best of luck and support you all the way!

    1. Reckon there’s some truth in that PiP. Quality bloggers usually have to get their point across before they lose the interest of their readers, although I’m guilty of the overly long post myself. Writers need to learn how to hold that interest over a much longer period of time. I guess that means writers do need stamina but also diligence, dedication and determination.

  1. NaNo is awesome! I love the rush of creativity. I didn’t participate last year (working and school, both full-time), but I did–and “won”–the previous five years. Still have work and school this year, but I REALLY want to give it a go again this year. It’s a great community, and I’ve met some fantastic people there. Good luck to you!

  2. NaNo is like crack for me. So much so that I’ve been doing it for a whole year. You’ve got that list of essentials down, friend. That’s exactly what every writer needs! Especially that “Not now – later” sign.

    1. I get how addictive it can be – chasing that word count, feeling the heat of the deadline and enjoying the competitive force bubbling up inside. Ooh yeah, I’m looking forward to it!

    1. Thanks Bren! I still have my unfinished novel from last year sat in a folder on my pc, all unloved….sniff….and lonely…sniff…maybe one day I’ll finish it off and it’ll be happy! Like a little puppy!

  3. Wonderful advice! I think it’s such a huge encouragement to finish a novel, whether or not the novel is “good.” Just getting to “the end” is such a high. Heck, passing 50K words is huge. Congrats to you on doing 84K in that time. Wow!

    1. Thanks Sonia! It does feel like a massive “YES! I DID IT!” kind of thing when you finish, even if, like me, the novel is still not complete. The fact that you stuck it out and hit that big five oh is well worth a nice big chunk of celebratory choccie cake!

    1. Thanks! 500 words a day is good going, and the trick is to be consistent with it, whether you write total junk, which all writers do now and then, the point is you’re training yourself to get into the habit of writing.

  4. Hi Dave,
    Yes I’m joining you from Down Under for the NaNo challenge. Am a NaNo newb so all the supplies advice etc is useful 😀 Good luck to you.

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