Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Rules for the Game

In my blog reading and face booking surfing, I have noticed a lot of folks out there who are interested in NaNoWriMo but have never taken the plunge. They are standing at the edge of the pool, dipping their toe in the water, then pulling it back and shaking their head. Nope, no thank you.  Too risky, not for me, not this year.

I have been there.  I lurked in the forums at NaNo the first year, too unsure of myself to dive into the deep end.  I missed one out of the last five years because I thought I was too busy to get anything out of it and regretted that decision.

To everyone in that position, I have one word for you…. JUMP! 🙂

To help you in your virgin speed-noveling experience, or your 10th one as the case may be, I offer you some simple rules to follow.

1) Don’t take it too seriously.  Repeat after me. I will not have a publishable novel at the end of 3o days. Good. Now let’s elaborate.  You will have a novel that may or may not be publishable after you edit it for months, or you may have a novel that will spend the rest of its days in a box under your bed.  Either way, you will have a novel and that, my dears, is really the whole point!

2) Once November starts, avoid the forums like the plague. Truly, they are as much a time-suck as Facebook and the wordpress reader!  You go on – just for a second – to update your status, and suddenly hours have disappeared. Also the forums will be full of whiners who do not have enough time to write and quitters who give up at the slightest bump in the road.  Do not let them sway you!

3) Do not look back.  You are not going that way! The entire challenge of NaNoWriMo is to get the words written.  Do not look back and start editing, deleting, nitpicking every scene.  Just keep the forward motion going and you will be fine.  After November, you can go back to page one and be amazed at how well-written some sections are, and cringe at how cheesy others sound. But in November, only look ahead.

4) Do not delete. If you reach a point where you hate all your characters – kill them off and start over but DO NOT delete anything you have written to that point. It all counts.

5) Do not give up.  You will inevitably write yourself into a corner. It happens. If you get stuck, throw in an explosion, a dragon, a Siamese twin who has the answer to the universe, whatever piece of brain fuzz pops out first. Throw it in and keep writing.  If you are truly stuck and your brain fuzz has even deserted you, go on the NaNo forum (BRIEFLY) and go to a dare thread, or an adopt-a-plot or -character thread and randomly pick something to throw in.  Write until you run out of steam and repeat.  You can actually get all the way to 50,000 words this way.

Most of all, don’t let the tiny little voice inside you that is scared to try deter you from the ride of your life!! 🙂


  1. Great advice. I remember the first time I did NaNoWriMo was by accident. I just happened to be surfing the net when I saw it being mentioned. Of course it was the abbreviation that made me curious, and decided to find out what it was all about. Once I realized what NaNoWriMo was, I signed up immediately. It was Nov. 6. Already 6 days had gone by, but I was undeterred. I have never been more into pantsing than that month. I completed the 50,000 words on November 27th.

    So, yes, it can be done as long as you want to do it. Plus, it’s a lot of fun when you get to blog about it with other Nanoers. 🙂

    • Pantsing is always a wild ride! 🙂 [that didn’t sound very good, huh?]
      I am quite addicted to the adrenaline rush that NaNo provides every November. I am pre-blogging a lot of the posts for November but will definitely be doing status updates every week.

  2. thewritingblues

    I’d say this is great advice, Cheryl, and not just for nanowrimo. Thanks for the post! 🙂


    • Thanks Mara! As I was writing them, it seemed they could be rules for life — don’t take too seriously, don’t look back, don’t give up… hmmmm! 🙂

      • thewritingblues

        Ha yes, exactly! 🙂


  1. Taking the Plunge | Catching Fireflies

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