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How to prep for NaNoWriMo

I love National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo, or Nano). It’s how I first got into writing, and it’s how I’ve sustained my writing through some very tough times in my life. But I will readily admit that there are a lot of “insider” tricks to help you survive and win at Nano. And I’ve been doing a lot of prep this year for it, so I thought I’d give a brief introduction to the prep side of How-to-Nano.

Look for a “How to survive (and win!) at Nano” coming next week!


  • Plan your project!
    • Yes, even pantsers (those who write by the seat of their pants) must have a least a little idea about what you want to write. I guarantee you, you’ll be thankful for it around the 15th or so.
    • For those of us who are planners, I would have a least your beat sheet planned out. This is fast and furious, so you want to have a guideline of where you want to go, just in case you get off track.
  • Don’t plan your project!
    • So, I’m already contradicting myself, I know. But leave room in your project for discovery, even if you are the most strict planner in the world. Without that room, you might write yourself into a corner and spin your wheels while you are trying to figure out how to get out. Spinning wheels and Nano do not go well together.
  • Tell everyone that you are participating in Nano.
    • And I mean everyone. Start with your family/wife/husband/significant other/squish/pet dog. Anybody you live with. They are the ones that will have to take over the chores you will not get done in November. Set expectations early.
    • Then (if you are comfortable) tell Social Media. There are millions of people like you, taking this same journey together. The more people who know, the more obligated you will feel to get the project done. It is so much easier to disappoint yourself than other people.
    • While we’re at it, go declare your project on This is where you will be recording those daily word counts, and how you will claim your prizes at the end.
Where it all begins…Bwahahaha!
  • Find your tribe. Or your cheerleading squad.
    • This can start with your family. They know what you are going through, they know how hard you are working, and they can see it right in front of them. Let them cheer you on.
    • If you don’t have that support, no fear! Go to the Nano site and search for your region. They will have events happening with writers just like you. They have trained Municipal Liaisons (MLs) that are there to help cheer you on.
  • Join some virtual events! This is 2020, and we can’t have in-person events, but that is why there is Zoom.
    • If you are in a region that doesn’t have ready access to the internet, you can still get on twitter occasionally and be cheered by the Nano twitter account, which runs sprints all through out November. (More on this next week.)
  • Get familiar with your software. A lot of people take the opportunity of Nano to try out new writing software, such as Scrivner. If it has a high learning curve, make sure you’ve coasted over that before November 1st.

Other online resources to familiarize yourself with:

  • Write Track, an online tracking tool that lets you weigh certain days to balance out your writing. Don’t want to write on Thanksgiving Day? Put that marker at 0, and the rest of the month will adjust around it. You can also share the calendar with friends, so you can see each other’s progress and cheer each other on! You do need an account, but it is free to use.
My calendar set up for this year. Goal: 90,000 words!
  • Written? Kitten! will give you a picture of a kitten for every X number of words you write.
Such cuteness. Much want.
  • Write or Die: there is a free version and a paid version. In the free, you set a time and a goal, and if you stop writing, there will be consequences! Up to and including: red screen, flashing lights, creepy pictures. There is even a Kamikaze mode, which will start to eliminate words.
  • 4thewords: If you are into gaming, this might be just what you need. Your word count helps you defeat the monsters in the game. I’m not as familiar with this, as I don’t tend to like those kind of games, but I have friends that swear by it. Forewarning: it is a pay-type site.

Now, go forth and write!

But first check out my November Nano Tips, next week…

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