Do You Even #NaNo?

Sorry, I had to get it out of my system.

Recently my husband has crashed back into the ‘fitness’ world so the majority of our conversations revolve around gym time, weight sets, and other fitness jargon (‘Do You Even Lift, Bro?)  that makes me feel like I should do a set of crunches. And while he is super excited about this workout regimen, I have a pretty intense one of my own that starts soon.


And while non-writers everywhere are probably ready to shootout throw me for the comparison, I’m pretty confident my fellow authors and authors-in-training know what I’m talking about.
The thing is, even though it isn’t a physical workout, NaNo is intense. The premise of writing 50,000 words in 30 days is enough to give even the most seasoned author pause. For those of you like me, who write ‘off-duty’ after working, taking care of kids, cleaning house, and, and, and it can be even more daunting (See graphic below for word count outline for the month). But together, we shall persevere!


In an effort to be as prepared as possible, I have spent the last week or so getting ready (read:  trying to wrap my head around what I’ve gotten myself into) for NaNo, and I have come up with a list of 10 ‘Commandments’ for this month of craziness.

#NaNo Commandments

  1. Set Yourself Up For Success – There’s a saying in the teaching world that says, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ This applies to NaNo too. You are about to undertake a massive project. Think of it this way: You wouldn’t start building a house without having floor plans or all your materials. You are writing A WHOLE BOOK in one month – go into it ready. Know your story, plan your characters, identify your theme. Even for you Pantsers, having the basic foundation set will make it easier to tackle your word count every day.
  2. Find Your People – Writers are a strange bunch. NaNo Writers are in a league all of their own. Odds are, if you try to explain your desire to pen a novel in just a month you will get some pretty interesting looks. Even the most well intentioned family member may not quite understand the task you have undertaken. So I say: find your tribe. Those writers who will commiserate, celebrate, and cheer you on when times get tough. If you already have some people of your own, AWESOME! If not, check out this awesome NaNo Blog hop to team up with some great writers ( And of course, absolutely feel free to add me (Julison44) ! I’d love to connect with you!
  3. Caffeinate – Stock up on your favorite coffee, tea, and writing snacks to help you power through those hefty word count sessions. You don’t want to be derailed from a sweet workflow by an empty stomach! Think of it as your writing apocalypse. Be prepared.
  4. Kick Your Excuses to the Curb – You know they’re coming. I was too tired. I had to make dinner. I had an important meeting. Excuse monsters sneak up and latch on to even the most dedicated of NaNo-ers if given the opportunity. Know what your biggest ‘excuse offenders’ are and be ready to combat them? Do you know that sleepiness is your Writing Enemy Number One? Make sure you are getting to bed at a decent hour! This is also where rule No. 1 comes back into play. Plan those excuses right out of your month! Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  5. Build a Writing Playlist – I don’t know about you, but I CANNOT write without music playing in the background. I even have specific genres of music I listen to depending on the writing I’m doing. Horror? Hard Rock/Alternative SciFi? Techno. Heck, sometimes I’ll even rock classical instrumental if I think the scene calls for it. Point is, find something that helps get your creative juices flowing and get it ready, stat.
  6. F*#% Editing – There is a time and a place for editing, and NaNo is not it. NaNo is the time for you to get the words on the page. Use November to FINISH your manuscript, then go back later and make it pretty. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t fix glaring mistakes or make changes to your work when inspiration hits, but don’t spend all of your writing hours going back and cleaning up your first draft, it’s not practical, and it will kill your word count. All NaNo novels need work. Embrace it. Live it.
  7. Celebrate Milestones Along the Way – 50,000 words is a BIG number to reach. Don’t get so caught up in the end goal that you forget to appreciate the journey it takes to get there. Hit 10,000 words? Thats 1/5 of your novel! 25,000? You’ve made it 1/2 way! How about a day that you are absolutely on fire and you get 5,000 words in one sitting? AMAZING! Celebrating your small wins will help boost your confidence and help you keep pushing through the rough patches.
  8. Realize You Can’t Do It All – Outside of my writing, I am a teacher and a mom. Balancing work, life, and writing can be a challenge to say the least (Case in point: My 2 year old is literally crawling across my shoulders as I type this). By signing up for NaNo, you have made a commitment to yourself and your writing, but unfortunately we can’t all go hole up in a cabin to create our literary masterpieces. As such, prepare yourself to accept the fact that some things just won’t get done. Whether it’s putting off the laundry an extra day, skipping your morning run once or twice, or calling for take-out because you just don’t have time to make dinner, realize that it is completely OK. You are not a failure because your floor didn’t get swept today. NaNo is not the month to be the perfect Pinterest Mom or Work Overachiever. You have 11 other months for that. Take November for you.
  9. Cut Yourself Some Slack – Along those same lines, if there comes a day where you don’t hit your 1,667 words, don’t beat yourself up. Focusing on the loss will only discourage you more and add an extra obstacle for you to hurdle over the next day. Instead, shake it off, tell yourself you’ll do better, and then do it.
  10. DON’T.GIVE.UP. – While the ultimate goal of NaNo is to hit 50,000 words, the only people who truly fail are those who give up? Did you work your butt off but only hit 35,000 words? Hey guess what? That’s 35,000 words you’ve banked that you might not have otherwise. Even if ‘worst case’ happens and you hit that slump and it kicks your butt, don’t let it beat you. Stick with it. 50,000 words or not, investing a solid month in YOUR WRITING without quitting on yourself still makes you a winner.
There you have it. My best advice for a successful NaNoWriMo Remember, you’re not in this alone. There’s a whole crazy writing community behind you and we’re all pulling for you! The world needs your words!

On that final note, don’t forget to be PROUD of yourself. This isn’t so much a rule as it is needed encouragement. There will be times when you want to quit. There will be days where you think you ABSOLUTELY cannot get those 1,667 words and you wonder what the heck you were even thinking signing up for this crazy thing (I anticipate this hits me on Day 2). But I promise, if you stick with it, you will be so proud of what you accomplish.

Committing to writing a novel is HUGE. Committing to do it in 30 days?

You’re a Bad Ass. Seriously.

But don’t just take my word for it! Pull up your manuscript and show it who’s boss! Then come back and share with me how you KILLED IT.

I know you will.

Happy Writing! 
Have YOU signed up for Nano 2016? 

Are you new to the madness or an old pro? What are your tips for success? Share Below! I’d love to hear from you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s