The #NaNoWriMo Checklist

In just two weeks we will be heading into dark territory.  The National Novel Writing Month will be upon us.  How many of you wordsmiths plan on cranking out a novel that month?  Well, you can include me in that mass of lemmings desiring to throw their minds into overdrive to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I’ve worked out that one needs to write roughly 1666 words per day to meet the quota, and since I already do 1000 words per day as a personal goal, pouring on another number of the beast won’t be too much of a problem.  I usually take about an hour to crank out the 1000, so not much longer to do the rest.

Some myths must be busted right away about NaNoWriMo:

  1. It is a contest with prizes – No.  The only prize is the satisfaction of writing a 50,000 word novel.
  2. The novel will be published if it “wins” – No.  Even though some novels like Like Water for Elephants did go on to be published works, just because you participate doesn’t mean that you will be published.

More importantly, the real purpose behind NaNoWriMo is to mainly give people a reason to “finally finish that novel”.  It is also a good way for writers to bust their chops and get in the groove of writing as a habitual task rather than whenever the mood strikes us.

However, there is a checklist that I feel writers must use when preparing for NaNoWriMo:

  • Have a plan – Be sure you have written an outline with at least 25-30 chapters of your novel ready to go.  It will be much easier to crank out the word count if you already know where you are going.
  • Schedule 2 hours a day – Schedule at least 2 hours per day for writing where you can find a quiet place and go at it.  Don’t miss any of these days or you will soon find yourself far behind.  1600 will turn into 8600 very fast if you procrastinate, and as the happy meme says “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
  • Get plenty of rest – A tired mind is not a creative one, and you will do much better with the time you allot if you are well rested.
  • Use the buddy system – Be sure to use the sources on to keep you accountable.  There are many people on this site who will encourage you to keep going, to meet the deadlines, and generally encourage your effort.  You can write that novel, but without encouragement you might find yourself falling into that bad habit and writer bugaboo called procrastination.
  • Write from your heart – Whatever you write, be sure it is something that you can “vent” about, something that comes out of your soul or is close to your personal “soap box”.  If you have a bone to pick with some type of social ill (or several) you can easily satirize that in your writing or refer to it allegorically or just come right out and discuss it.  Think of something people have to tell you to shut up about and write about that.  You can’t go wrong.

I plan on writing a mashup of a little known ’80’s cartoon “Bravestarr”, The Dark Tower Series, Brock Sampson from The Venture Brothers and elements of oddly random events that are simply placed due to whatever my wit tends to throw in.  It is called “The Hapless Biography of Carter LaGrange”.

Until then, good luck.   If any NaNoWriMo veterans wish to post with other tips below it would be appreciated.  What are you doing to prepare for the task in November?  Sound off below!

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

7 thoughts on “The #NaNoWriMo Checklist

  1. I’m signed up for my third “attempt”. I knew I’d never get anywhere near 50k because that’s just not how I work but I thought maybe it would get me in the right mindset. Instead I ended up bogged down in world-building and note-taking as usual because I didn’t have a realistic goal to work towards. I have just never gotten into the habit of writing regularly so this year I’m using it as an opportunity to start out slowly with a reasonable 10k goal. In meantime I’m working on my outline and finishing up some unrelated assignments from a creative writing course on Reddit.

  2. As I’m about to emark on NaNoWriMo for third consecutive year, I have re-blogged your words of wisdom & common sense. Not sure whether I will meet the 50k target this year, as too much going on. But good luck Roger and all who sail with us.

  3. Reblogged this on Writing Wings and commented:
    As I’m about to emark on NaNoWriMo for third consecutive year, I have to re-blog Roger Colby’s words of wisdom & common sense. Not sure whether I will meet the 50k target this year, as too much going on. But good luck Roger and all who sail with us.

  4. I freakin’ LOVED Bravestarr!
    Ahem… I mean, yes, have a plan. Stick to deadlines and such.

    Heh, see you there!
    Looking forward to NaNo this year. No only am I going to hit that word count, I’m going to finish the novel. WOO! ^_^

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