Sunday, November 15, 2009

The NaNoWriMo Stories

How to Succeed at NaNoWriMo Using Endurance Training
By Christy Goldfeder

I trained for and competed in a sprint triathlon (½ mile swim, 14 mile bike ride, 5k run) a couple of years before I took on NaNoWriMo. For some crazy reason, I thought that competing in an endurance race at the crack of dawn would be easier than writing 50,000 words. That’s how powerful the fear of the blank page was for me – and can be for many writers.

But while writing 50,000 in 30 days sounds like an impossible feat, in reality it is much easier than you think. All you need to do is break it down like you would if you were training for an endurance event such a triathlon.

1 – Break it down: When you divide 50,000 words by 30 days, you’ll see that you need to write about 1667 words per day to meet your goal. If you’re a professional writer, how often do you write a 1,500 – 2000 word piece? You probably crank out a few of those per week. Ok - maybe with NaNoWriMo you’re writing 50% more than you usually end up writing in a week.

With my sprint triathlon training, I figured out that I would have to run 2-3 miles a few days a week, swim ¼ mile a few days per week and bike 10 – 15 miles a couple days a week. And I still needed to have some rest in between workout sessions.

2 – Create your blocks or “bricks”: Block out your writing time so that you know you can get it done. I prefer to write in the early mornings when I’m writing longer pieces. Setting your alarm clock for an hour earlier than you usually get up can give you that quiet time that you need to do your work. Or, if you’re a night owl, set up some late-night writing time.

When I trained for the tri, I doubled up my workouts – for example, swimming at 7:00 am and running at 7:00 pm. By the end of training, I would double up workouts into bricks – e.g., running, then swimming – so that I’d get use to switching sports. Doubles and bricks are tiring, but they helped me get my miles in and still have two days off to recover.

3 – Plan for “recovery” days: There may be times when you know you won’t be able to write during the month of November. If you want to take Thanksgiving Day off, just make sure that you can get those words in some other day. If you plan to write more words earlier in the month, you’re more likely to meet your 50,000 word quota by the deadline.

Remember, the beauty of NaNoWriMo is that you don’t actually have to publish your novel by the deadline – you can take a few months to edit and turn it into a work of art.
The other benefit is that after writing consistently for 30 days, you might just find yourself with a new good writing habit.

So don’t be afraid to write freely and just see what happens in your novel when you participate in NaNoWriMo – enjoy it, have fun, and remember that it’s just a game.

Guest blogger Christy Goldfeder is a copywriter working with professionals to grow their businesses through clearer marketing and online strategies. She’s also a holistic health counselor empowering busy people to easily lose weight and gain more energy without stress or struggle. She writes about nutrition and wellness at here Follow her on twitter: Click here

I Dare You
By Nancy Lichtenstein

Go ahead, I dare you. Sign up for NaNoWriMo and write a novel in a month.

Put aside the fact that it seems like an impossible task…it IS impossible and yet I’ve done it twice, and I have two kids, a full time job, a side career as a freelance writer, and a chronic illness. In fact, it’s precisely because it’s impossible that it’s life changing.

You will see thousands of people sign up for Nanowrimo in the days leading up to November (on the slight chance that you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s National Novel Writing Month, where you pledge to complete the first draft of a 50,000 word fiction manuscript in 30 days; for more information go to

Scores of your friends will sign up for it and get started with the best of intentions, fueled on enthusiasm and big dreams. More than one third of them will drop off in the first couple of days, making excuses and saying they’ll try again next year. By the second week, that number will double. If you make it to the end, it truly is a remarkable achievement.

I’m not patting myself on the back for having done it; every one of you could do it too. All it requires is sitting in front of your keyboard and writing 1,666.67 extra words a day…whether you feel like it or not. There are days when this is easy and other days where you’ll sit there typing stuff like, “I hate this story. I hate these characters. I hate myself. I should have become a dentist—I hate dentists.” (Interludes like this are allowed in the rules as long as the majority of the writing is actually on topic.)

The benefits you get from finishing are countless. It’s a trip of discovery that I want you to experience firsthand, but trust that you’ll come out of it believing in yourself like never before. Before Nanowrimo, I was one of those people who put her dreams on the shelf to be “realistic.” Afterwards, my real life changed.

Completing National Novel Writing Month gave me, a suburban mom, the courage to walk into New York Fashion Week (not the friendliest of climates) like I owned the place, hang out with TV stars and interview top designers; this was a big dream of mine and one I believed would NEVER come true, but after Nanowrimo, it was cake.

There’s still one major dream that hasn’t come true yet—publishing a novel. Last year, I was one of the ones who wimped out. It was the worst year of my life personally and I told myself I just didn’t have it in me to do this on top of everything else I was dealing with.

Now I realize that it wouldn’t have been an added burden, it would have been freeing. What could I have done in the past 12 months if I’d done Nanowrimo first? I don’t know, but this year I’m going to find out. Meet me in the winner’s circle on November 30. Go ahead, do the impossible. I dare you.

Guest columnist Nancy Lichtenstein is a freelance lifestyle writer, music journalist and fashionista. She's a frequent contributor to LA Story, a go-to girl for fashion, music and decorating questions at Associated Content, and a two-time NaNoWriMo winner.

NaNoWriMo: It's All About Falling in Love
By Aline Martins

Writing a story is all about falling in love.

I first heard about NaNoWriMo three years ago through a friend, and though I loved writing, I could never believe that you could put yourself under such pressure just so a book could be born in the world.

So, I avoided participating, left it aside, and instead took as many writing classes and workshops as I could on writing and creative writing.

The fact, is, I am a storyteller, just as my grandmother was. I tell stories in hospitals, at parties and camps, and in the school in Brazil where I teach English.

I thought, "I can tell a story, I am perfectly able to write one too!” But I didn’t know that writing was the hardest part. While different ideas for books constantly float around in my head in my head, when it came to writing them down I found that I am a Procrastination Queen.

Every time I planned to start writing, I would sabotage myself and find the perfect excuse to start doing it later.

Tip: Don’t ever expect the elves to come during the night and start your book for you.

It was October 25th when my friend convinced me to take part in this year’s NaNoWriMo; I immediately began freaking out. I had the story in my head, a good beginning, quite good end, but what about the storyline and plots?

I had only five days to get organized.

I turned to a NaNoWriMo Brazilian forum for help.

I found out I had much more to start than a lot people had, and soon I was organizing a NaNoWriMo kick-off party.

This was the best thing I ever did.

Tip: If you can go to the meet ups and write ins, DO IT! There is nothing better than meeting likeminded people.

Suddenly, it was November 1st. And during the first couple of hours, I managed typing 2,000 words! It was at that moment that I knew I was in love, completely in love with my story, with NaNoWriMo.

It was the morning of the second day, when, very excitedly I told my mom of my achievement, “Mom, I already wrote 4,000 words!” She replied: “We are having pasta for lunch."

Tip: Sometimes we must not listen to what people say.

Today, here I am, getting to 12K out of the 50K expected before the end of November.

I'm not sleeping much, trying to keep up with my jobs as a teacher, translator and NaNoWriMo storyteller.

But it's all well worth it. I am very, very happy. I've finally fallen in love.

Tip: KEEP LIVING, KEEP BREATHING, KEEP WRITING! (This one is for me, so I don’t forget it, but I’ll let you use it)

It is all about falling in love.

Guest blogger Aline Martins is a self-described "dreamer" who lives in São Paulo, Brazil. Her NaNoWriMo user name is Ayslin1 and her blog, The Hectic Attic, can be found at:
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nicóle said...

Thank you for a great post! The beginning of November was crazy for me, and I've been catching up. I'm about 2,000 words behind-but I'm sure I'm going to make it now!

nettagyrl said...

Thank you for this! It is inspiring, especially as I am finding out a lot about myself as a writer. I've written more words in this short amount of time which lets me now I can do it!

Laurie Boris said...

Excellent advice. This is my third NaNoWriMo novel and I can absolutely say that the blocking and pacing technique works for me. I don't look at it as "oh, my god, how am I going to write 50,000 words," but "let's take this bird by bird..." I've already planned for a few days off, which is greatly working to my favor, since I also freelance and never know when something good will drop into my lap.