NaNoWriMo: 50K or Bust


Many of you will be participating in NaNo beginning November 1. This repost comes from October of 2009, on the eve of my very first NaNoWriMo.

Although, I no longer participate in NaNo, I encourage every writer to try it at least once. After my second NaNo (and second win), I realized it took me far longer to “fix” NaNo generated copy than it would to start from scratch. I’m not a quantity writer, and gushing words isn’t my process.

The important thing? I wouldn’t know this about myself if I’d never participated in NaNo.

Apart from a few updated links, the post below is just as it appeared seven years ago.



Since this will be my first NaNo, I’ve been cruising blogs and the web for tips on how best to negotiate the  process. There are plenty of resources on the NaNoWriMo site, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.


Check out Marelisa Fábrega’s blog post: How to Write a Novel in 30 Days. Marelisa has links to character building worksheets and offers a great overview of what goes into a compelling novel.

Storyist Software has a page titled Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo by many-time Wrimo, Steve. He offers some solid advice. I’ve never used Storyist, so I can’t comment on the software, but Steve’s prep page is stellar.

Two other helpful articles: Writers Digest’s 30 Tips for Writing a Book in 30 Days, and Nicole Cook’s Ten Tips for Getting to 50,000.

Now, for a few of my own tips. For idea inspiration, check out Seventh Sanctum. It’s an awesome website crammed with free generators for everything from settings and story lines to characters and beyond. I love the name generator. And for future reference, the site offers writing challenges. I’m guessing NaNo is probably challenge enough to take most of us through November.

If you are working with series characters, you’ve no doubt already developed detailed character profiles. Want to add depth? Check out James Lipton (he of Inside the Actor’s Studio fame), Bernard Pivot, and/or Marcel Proust’s questionnaires on SenseList. So, what would your protagonist like to hear God say when s/he arrives at the Pearly Gates?

My last tip deals with software. If you’re a writer and not using Scrivener, you should be. There’s a special NaNo demo version with a temporary license that runs through December 7. Download the program, use it for free through NaNoWriMo. If you decide you love it (I predict you will), it’s 20% off the uproariously low price of $40 PC/$45 Mac. And if you win NaNo? 50% off! And no, I do not work for Literature and Latte, but great software is great software.

So how about you other Wrimos out there,
have any last minute tips, tricks, or websites you’d like to share with first timers?