//one does not simply enter NaNo unprepared

Accceso cover

This is going to be my sixth year doing NaNo, and I’ve helped nudge quite a few victims – er, friends – into doing it with me, for the first time. This is great. Except I’m expected to give veteran advice. I did this last year, but I’ve decided the ‘Nano Newbies Preparation List’ – or the NNPL – needs an update.

• Rope yourself a NaNo buddy! Someone you can encourage and who can encourage you, someone you can share stuff with, get excited with, and get competitive with (THIS year, Kyla. This year, I’m whippin’ your hiny). Don’t have a buddy? I’d love to hear about your novel and keep you spurred on during November! You can find me HERE.

• Chris Baty, a founder of NaNoWriMo, wrote a novel for NaNoers called “No Plot, No Problem.” I have read the book. It’s highly entertaining and even a little bit helpful and entirely misleading. I have discovered that, to have a really successful November, you do need a plot. You don’t have the time to plot while you’re writing, so you need to have your road mapped out and your destination in mind, even if you don’t know the detours you’re going to take. Which leads to…

• Keep a notebook. A fresh, large, attractive notebook and a good pen. I do this every year – and during November, I fill it. I fill it with descriptions, cast listings, quotes, scenes, playlists, reminders, scenes, sketches – it’s like being inside my novel’s brain. Take it with you wherever you go. Write everything down before you forget it. Brainstorm.

• You’re going to need caffeine, I promise you. My coffee + tea consumption skyrockets during November. I drink three times as much as I eat, as I frequently forget to eat but remember to stay awake and finish just this one chapter….

• Create an iTunes playlist, or a Pandora playlist, or a YouTube playlist…write down all the songs that fit your novel, put them in your notebook, and then compile them digitally. My iTunes playlists are invaluable all year ’round, not just during November. Lyrics and tunes keep me inspired and remind me of the mood I want my novel to keep. This year, with Acceso, the mood is ‘sweet grunge,’ like a pink dress with a leather jacket and combat boots. So my playlist involves a lot of Skillet and Ellie Goulding.

• Fingerless gloves. Even if you live in the South, like I do, your hands will get cold because, if you’re typing, your arms are going to be at an angle that discourages blood circulation. Remember to stand up and do a few jumping jacks, or stretch, or jog up and down the stairs with that fourteenth cup of coffee – but fingerless gloves are invaluable. I have my eye on this pair from Etsy…I’m just pointing this out. If someone wanted to get these for me, I wouldn’t object. In fact, I’d probably adopt them. Onward.

• If you’re doing NaNo, I can guarantee that you’re going to turn into a recluse. You won’t want to go anywhere because you’re writing. You won’t want to see anyone because you’re writing. I suggest leaving your writing place once a week, just to refresh your memory as to what the outdoors looks like. Take a lungful of crisp air. Go back inside, and repeat the week after.

• It’s so easy to be self-centered during NaNo, because it’s just you and your novel and your feelings. Every once in a while, make your way out of your room. Play a game with someone. Eat a meal with your family. If they poke you to make sure you’re still breathing, let them live.

• Read something. Watch stuff. Just because you’re writing a certain genre doesn’t mean you don’t need your mind expanded – in fact, just the opposite. Keep new ideas coming.

• Shower. Brush your teeth. Personal hygiene is important.

• Don’t nitpick your manuscript. If you wake up at four in the morning (assuming you went to bed) thinking, “Oh my word, I need to remove X and totally rewrite the plot!!” – don’t. Wait. This is the first draft. You’re putting sand in the sandbox so you can later make a castle.

Are you looking forward to the looming month? Because I am.


  1. You forget that some of us have soul-sucking black holes in our lives called “jobs” to deal with that take up 30hrs a week (give or take) while all this is going on. It’d be great to sit at the computer unbothered for 30 days straight and splatter whatever comes out of my brain into a word document… but I kinda need a paycheck… soooo there’s that… yeah… I foresee much pain in my future…


  2. thank you so much Mirri!!! i don’t have a ‘job’ per se, just some volunteering, and i’m gonna continue that during Nano, even though this is my very first year, i’ve just signed up, and i barely have any plot, just a vague idea or two. i see much research in my future. and writing. lots and lots of writing.


  3. And I would add… (because I’m an ML and everything) GO TO A WRITE-IN. Because write-ins are cool and they are sad when nobody comes, and they are awesome to go to because you are with other writers (see note about recluses and going outside…) and are just all around fabulous. Nearly as fabulous as Thranduil, but not quite (because nothing is, of course).

    BUT NANO. I will have to deal with it while doing volunteer NaNo ML organizing work AND being gone half the month. I foresee doom in my near future.

    ALSO SKILLET. <3 (I probably won NaNo last year partly because of them–they're perfect for word wars and writing alone in your closet.)


  4. I’m seriously considering doing it…BUT IT’D BE MY FIRST TIME. And none of my book ideas have proper plots yet *flaps awkwardly* I NEED TO MAKE A DECISION.


  5. This worries me considering I’ve just now started planning my novel and characters haha. I’ll keep an eye on your blog for updates and tips :)


  6. Oh, yes, I’m definitely looking forward to November. My second year this time – but a good list. All good things to remember, newbie or not :)


  7. Sand in the sandbox! That’s a great way to look at it!! :D and hahaha “let them live!” XD This will be my second year attempting Nano. Hopefully, if I still can’t finish, at least maybe I’ll get farther than I did last year! PERSONAL GOALS WOOT. XD


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