My 10 Not So Secret Secrets to Winning NaNoWriMo

Everyone’s talking about Nano. Well, I guess they would be, the count down to the 1st November started on the 1st October πŸ˜‰

Most of you know that this is my 3rd year of Nano and that the previous 2 years I was, in fact, a winner. Nano 2010 changed my life. If it wasn’t for Chris Baty then I probably wouldn’t be writing now, but anyway, I digress. People keep asking me, “how do you do it?” Win at Nano that is. So I thought I’d give you my top tips. I hope they help πŸ™‚

1. Come up with your novel idea in advance. Yeah yeah, all the pansters are booing at me, but seriously….I’m not saying you have to outline. I’m not saying you have to have this great plan of all the scenes, but, trust me, having a rough idea, a beginning, middle and end in your head, will really help. My Nano 2010 still remains unfinished because I didn’t have a clue where it was going, whereas Nano 2011 may only be 52,000 words, but is at least complete. Soooo much more satisfying πŸ™‚

2. Aim for daily word count goals. To win at Nano you have to do 50,000 words right? Ok, so that equates to approx 1666 words a day. But what if aunt Alice comes to visit? Or little Billy gets sent home from school with head lice? Or, heavens forbid….hubby gets man flu!!!! You can quite easily lose a day. So, do a bit extra each day. Aim for 2,000 words or even 2,500. You might just need to be ahead at some stage πŸ™‚

3. Forget about the quality. It’s quantity we want here. Not every single word has to be Booker Award Quality. No one ever has to see this novel. Chris Baty refers to this Nano written draft as “draft zero” ie, the pre first draft….remember that!

4. Have a comfortable environment. Here in the UK, I won’t care where I write as long as its warm lol. My preferred place is my desk, but, I’ll also be attending write ins and going on a retreat. So as long as I’m warm and comfy I’ll be fine πŸ™‚ If you like to write to music, make sure you have your favourite tracks on hand, and if you like silence (like I do) plan your writing sessions around times you know you’ll be on your own.

5. DON’T edit. Now this one is really important!!!!!! Seriously, if you try to edit while you’re writing you will work yourself up into a state of panic, crash, and burn 😦 I know it’s hard, you just want to go back and correct passages, spelling mistakes etc. But don’t as you’ll lose momentum, and you’ll be doubling the amount of time it takes you to write one chapter. Forget about it….until the 1st of December πŸ˜‰

6. Try to eat healthily. Yeah, ummmmm, this is my advice, but I don’t normally take it lol. I tend to snack a lot during Nano. The family live on take out, and I hate to imagine how much chocolate and Pepsi I consume during November. Sooooo, my advice is, have whatever you need/want to keep you going, but, do yourself a favour, have at least 1 piece of fruit a day yeah?

7. Get support. The Nano forums are brilliant!!! You can get advice if you’re struggling with your plot, receive sympathy if you’re flagging, and feel like you’re part of a lovely big family. Join your local region and attend at least one Write In for your area. Your lovely ML’s who organise them are on hand to give you any advice and support over a latte πŸ™‚

8. Tell the family! Or room mate. Basically, whoever you live with. In my house they know that 1. They probably won’t get words of more than 1syllable out of me during November, 2. They will run out of clean underwear unless someone is assigned to the laundry and 3. That there won’t be much cooking going on (not that there normally is anyway I hear my daughter cry!). So best to warn your nearest and dearest I think.

9. Don’t give up if its not working. Ok, so you’ve written 15,000 words of a novel you suddenly realise you hate. It’s utter rubbish and deserves to be thrown in the bin. I’ve known people to give up completely at that stage…. NOOOO! DON’T DO IT! just carry on with another novel, another idea at word 15,001 or write some short stories, or your memoirs, anything, and just add it on! πŸ™‚ Whoever said it had to be a complete novel? It can be short stories, your memoirs, or even a journal, observations of your day. *whispers* there are even some rebels out there who use it to rewrite novels and to finish existing ones πŸ™‚

10. Have fun and don’t panic! Ok, look, we know its about getting to the finish line, the 50,000 words that let’s you claim your winners certificate, but, lets not have a melt down. Officially, this entry shouldn’t be on the list because I’m supposed to be telling how to win, but, its my list so i can add what i want πŸ˜‰ Winning, is in the eye of the beholder. So you only did 7,000 words? The car broke down, the schools pipes froze and all the kids were sent home for a week. These things happen (usually to me on a regular basis lol). But, if that 7,000 words is more than you’d usually write in November, well, you’re a winner in my book πŸ™‚

My Netbook, where all the Nano action takes place πŸ™‚

I don’t claim to be an expert, this is only my 3rd year, but the above list is based on my own experience of what works for me πŸ™‚

Good luck everyone who’s taking part, and if you have any other tips, please share πŸ™‚

Nano Planno by Steven Chapman
Nanowrimo The Pitfalls @ Writer Unboxed
My Nanowrimo Legacy
Pantster, Planner or Percolater?
Ready or Not Here It Comes: Nanowrimo