5 New Ways to Approach NaNoWriMo


October flew by- No wait, I swore I wouldn’t start another blog post with how time seems to be screeching past like a runaway locomotive.

            So anyways, now that it’s almost November you know what that means! NaNoWriMo! For those of you who don’t know what that is, its National Novel Writing Month, all mashed up. It’s a friendly writerly competition that takes place every November and lasts all month.

            The goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days! Which works out to 1,666.67 words per day. Some of you might remember that I participated in NaNo last year. You may or may not remember I fell short (less than half of my goal in word count), but lessons were learned and fun was had.

            Now I’m back at it with a new plan of attack! Here are 5 things I’ll be doing this year so I can approach my failures from last year and adapt them to help me smash my goals this year.

1)      Prep_tober

Yes that’s definitely a word. Basically, it’s pumpkin-spiced novel prep. (Credit to Rachael Stephen for that word magic, and the idea of prep_tober itself.) It’s so good. And so helpful. Everyone has a little bit of a different spin on it, but the point is to spend October preparing for the madness that is November.

Last year, I did a rough thought dump (yes, I said thought dump. I love the concept that your brain is pooping out ideas… I know it’s cringe worthy, I don’t care. Picture a little poop emoji with a lightbulb over its head. It’s magic.) Anywho… I dropped ideas into a notebook for my novel and rolled with it. That was it. No outline, no character planning, nada. Big mistake.

(Disclaimer: I know some people are pantsers: can just write by the seat of their pants. I can too, but I discovered that editing a pantsed novel is a literal nightmare straight from Hades and I will not do it again. That is all.)


2)      Schedule

I will be sticking to a schedule. As I’m typing this I’m shaking my head, because I know my tendencies. But I will make a valiant effort. Like a knight fighting a dragon. The dragon will roast me. This I know, but I shall die with valor as I face that dragon nonetheless. (Incidentally, my novel will contain a dragon.)

My schedule will look something like this: Get up before my children. Drink a gallon of caffeine. Write. Life/Wife/Mom. Put kids to bed. Write some more. (There will be sleeping and drinking mixed in there somewhere, of this I’m certain.)

We’re going on vacation this month though. And there’s Thanksgiving, so I’ll have to adapt, but my husband is legit and he will be doing everything he can to give me writing time throughout the month.


3)      Outlining/World Building/Character Profiling

I know this semi-falls-under-prep_tober but it’s by itself. Because it is.

I’ve written one whole book. (Rough draft and a partial re-write/edit.) And one partial draft of a completely different book. The one thing both of them have in common? They give me headaches. Massive, stressful, tear-stained headaches. And not the usual writerly kind. The kind that comes from having no idea where you were going with many of your thoughts or WTF you were thinking (or not thinking) when put it there to begin with. I know I’m a newbie writer and at first, I just thought that’s just how it was going to be. (The stress induced revisions that lead you to considering taking up a life as a gypsy, selling trinkets for... well, I don’t know what.)

But since then, I’ve discovered some other writers that have claimed that outlining and planning out their characters and the world they’re in beforehand has helped them stay on topic and move things along.

Even if the words aren’t perfect (if haha), I’m hoping I can have references to look back on and double check why someone might say or do something, and a timeline to keep myself moving.

Because even as we speak, I still have plot holes to fix in my Norse Mythology story I started during NaNo last year.

(I clearly have so much to say on this topic so I feel like I’ll be doing another post about all the prep work I’ve done, because it’s a lot and it’s so exciting. But I’ll shut up for now.)


4)      Remember NaNo is for fun

It can indeed be a creative experiment that turns into a competition that can lead to a story that leads to an agent which leads to publication. (The Night Circus, Water for Elephants, Wool, Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, among others…) ButwhocaresrightholyshitIhopethathappenswhyismywritingsoawful.

Seriously though, we all wish for things to work out. For us to be the unicorn of the publishing world. For us to make it big on our debut novel. But this year, I’m going to just enjoy the process. It’s going to be a bit messy, but it’s also going to be fun watching the story just come to life.


5)      Just Write

Yes, I will have moments of freak out. This is expected. But I am coming to this place where I realize that although writing can be horribly stressful, storytelling is a gift and an art and it really is so flipping fun. I’m going to write my ass off and enjoy as much of it as I can. Because December is for wondering what you’ve even done with your life. But then there’s Christmas to pull you out of your pity party hole. So there.


Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you done any prep work? Are you going to pants it?

Are you not into NaNo? Tell me why!