Surviving NaNoWriMo

There are some obvious tips for surviving NaNoWriMo.

Coffee, lots of it, is a given if you’re a coffee drinker (which I’m not, but I’d guess that your need for coffee during NaNoWriMo is probably as great as my need for chocolate.)

Food and beverages are just part of the equation however. (Although I’d love to know what your favourite Nano refreshments and edible delights are).

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 11.53.52 amBut when it gets to the actual writing part there are some things I have found work really well for me.

  1. Keep writing – it might sound obvious but writing for me is like daily exercise. Once I stop doing it, I find it hard to get going again. If you are blocked, keep writing – even if it’s not something that will fit in with your story. Try writing a stream of consciousness letter from your main character to a friend or enemy – even if it’s about having writer’s block. I find that this helps me get back deep inside my character’s mind.
  2. Walk, mow the lawn, play golf, do whatever works for you. I find that walking helps free my mind and gives me the opportunity to mull over my plot.
  3. Allow as much thinking time as writing time. I find that allowing myself the time to think about what will happen next helps me avoid writer’s block because when I sit down to put pen on paper (and yes I hand write my first draft) I know where I’m going.
  4. Unknown-4Yoga/pilates for writers – typing, sitting, getting all those words out puts a lot of strain on more than just the mind. If you don’t stretch – particularly your hands – you will suffer for it. Here are some great links for exercises for writers – many that can be done at your desk and and and
  5. If you’re stuck on one scene – leave it for now and write the scene that’s ‘calling’ you.
  6. Plan ahead – not necessarily in great detail – just know what you want to work on next time you sit down to write – and write the scene that takes your fancy. You can sort the order of things later. I like to at least start with a detailed synopsis.
  7. I used to over plot my NaNo novels and then when I came to write them I’d lost the spark. So now I do a mix of plotting and pantsing. As I mentioned above, I do a synopsis so at least I know who my character is and what their goal is and what the resolution to their story problem will be. But I don’t know how they’re going to get there. That’s all revealed, even to me, as I write.
  8. As I write, I scribble down notes of things I think of that will need to happen in the future and some things I will need to add in to earlier chapters already written.  I don’t edit at this stage. Keep moving forward.
  9. Set realistic personal goals that fit in with your lifestyle and commitments. Personal goals are just that – they are personal – they your goals. It doesn’t matter how many zillion words other people are writing, all you have to worry about are the targets you have set yourself. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  10. Enjoy the journey. NaNoWriMo is not supposed to be torture – it’s supposed to be fun. There are all sorts of groups, write ins and word wars you can join to make the experience more enjoyable and help you when your motivation is flagging.

Unknown-5I hope you’re enjoying NaNoWriMo 2015 as much as I am.

If you have tips on how you survive NaNoWriMo, please feel free to share them in the comments section of this blog.

Happy writing:)




Like so many other writers, I’m deeply immersed in writing my NaNoWriMo novel.

I’m moving forward and trying not to edit as I go, but there are something prompts I use to help me along if I think a scene is lagging. They are also things that help me in the revision process. I hope you find them useful too:)


  1. What physical obstacles have you placed in your character’s way? Do you need more?
  2. Does setting contribute to the conflict in the scene? How can you make better use of setting? How has it made things worse for your character in this scene?
  3. What happened/is going to happen in this scene to make things worse for your character?
  4. Is their reaction authentic/strong enough?
  5. What decisions will your character have to make now because of what happened in the scene?
  6. Why will this scene make your reader keep reading?
  7. How can you build the tension to encourage the reader to keep reading?
  8. Does this scene reveal what you want it to about your character?
  9. Why does your story need this scene?
  10. How can you make this scene stronger?

Hope you find this useful. Good luck with your NaNoWriMo projects and whatever writing you’re working on.

Happy writing:)



I thought I’d also let you know about the free writing competition on my other blog, Writing Classes For Kids & Adults.
I run writing competitions there every month and the November competition closes soon.

There are great prizes to win. This month’s competition involved submitting the FIRST PAGE of your story.
To find out more, check out the competition page at

10 Good Reasons To Do NaNoWriMo – TUESDAY WRITING TIP

That's me on the first camel. Camel riding is such a blast:) Amazing animals.

I confess that I’m a NaNoWriMo convert. I know that NaNoWriMo has been going for a while now and I used to wonder what all the fuss was about.

This year I took the plunge and decided to participate for the first time, and I haven’t regretted a minute of it. So I thought I’d share with you the TEN THINGS that NaNoWriMo has done for me.

Deadlines motivate – Last week I (blog url) mentioned about how easy it is to get distracted from your writing. NaNoWriMo has helped me to make my writing a priority again. It gave me a deadline to meet. It is a definite thing – not like the usual “I’m writing this book hoping that it will be published some years in the future.” When you don’t have a definite deadline to write to (ie your book has been scheduled for publication 12 months from now…I wish LOL) it can be good to have your own definite deadline to work to.

Forces you to make time for your writing – The group I am in, NaNoWriMo Warriors holds Word Wars at the same time every day. This is where you write for an hour and there are writers all around the world doing the same thing and at the end of the allotted time, you compare your word counts. It’s really fun and it doesn’t matter who wins – the idea is just to get you writing. And it gets you into a routine of writing at the same time every day – of setting aside time to write in your busy schedule.

Gets you to commit to a great idea that may have been lurking inside your head for a long time. I’ve had an idea for my story for about six years. I had a couple of false starts, but nothing I was happy with. NaNoWriMo made me commit to developing this idea further – and even though my first draft is pretty rough, it’s all there – out of my head and on paper.

Reminds you of who your competition really is. Sometimes it feels as if every second person you meet, even the celebrities (who I don’t actually get to meet) is writing a book and you are competing against all of them to get your book out there. It’s easy to become despondent. NaNoWriMo reminds you that the only person you are competing against is yourself – that your story is unique and that nobody else can tell it like you can.

Helps banish your internal editor. Most people have probably done free writing at some stage – you know where you get to write for 10 or 15 minutes and you have to keep writing without stopping and you come up with some really random thoughts – but some of them are amazing. That’s what NaNoWriMo did for me. It freed my thinking – gave me permission to just keep writing and worry about the rest later.

Puts routine into your writing. I found with NaNoWriMo it was best to try and stick with a regular goal. If you write 1700 words a day, you will have 51,000 words by the end of a month – pretty amazing, hey? Now if you are preening and polishing every word as you go, it’s going to be pretty hard to get the word counts you need. But if you don’t edit along the way, 50,000 words is more easily achievable than you might think and you’ll be amazed at how much your story moves forward if you don’t keep going back to change it.

As I’m writing, things pop into my head all the time about how the story needs fixing or developing in the next draft, but I just make notes in the margin and go back to it at the end.

Brings you out of your lonely garret. You get to network with other writers through forums and chats on the NaNoWriMo site and by joining other groups like the Facebook group, NaNoWriMo Warriors.

A worldwide experience. You get to connect with people from all over the world and find out about international publishing trends. It’s really cool to be waking up and starting your work just as someone in some other part of the world is going to bed. It’s like having the writing baton passed to you.

You have support. When you’re home alone looking at the blank screen of your computer, and the words won’t come, it’s easy to just walk away and say, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”

But if you join a worldwide NaNoWriMo group you’ll find someone online almost 24/7 with words of encouragement and brainstorming ideas to help you get over the rough patches. I worked for years as an advertising copywriter for an agency and I have to say there’s nothing like having another creative mind to bounce ideas off to spark your own inspiration.

Acknowledges that your writing is important. Whether you get to 50,000 words or not, just being involved in NaNoWriMo is a great achievement.

Just participating in Nano has forced you to make a commitment to your writing. And that has to be a good thing, doesn’t it?

Next week on Tuesday Writing Tips, I’ll be giving my 10 best tips to carry on after NaNoWriMo – to use the skills, inspiration and contacts you’ve acquired to keep the words flowing in the future.

I’d really love to hear about your NaNoWriMo experience in the comments section of this post, and how it has helped you with your writing.