Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

More Rules for the Game

A few days ago, I posted some simple rules to help newbies approach NaNoWriMo with the right frame of mind.  I have come up with a few more…

6) Do not overplan.  In NaNoWriMo, there is such a thing as being over-prepared.  If you spend months in advance planning out every plot point, character quirk, and every last acre of the fantasy world your story takes place in, not only will your writing lack surprise, but you will be too invested in your story to truly enjoy the NaNo experience.  A big part of NaNo has always been the spontaneous joy that comes from being surprised by something your characters do, or a twist in your plot that appears out of thin air.  If you have hours of research time invested before you even begin, you will be too attached to the outcome and worried about it being perfect.

7) Go with the flow.  This ties in to rule #6.  People who have never attempted to write a long piece of fiction won’t believe this.  I thought it was a load of hooey myself until it happened to me.  If you give the blank page over to your characters, they will start doing things you did not plan.  They will say things that you would never have had them say.  Your story can take on a life of its own.  Let it!

8) Choose your non-writing activities carefully. NaNoWriMo takes time.  I can’t lie to you and say that every day you can spew out 1667 words in under 15 minutes so you can get on with your life. No, NaNo takes time and energy and thought – precious commodities in this crazy busy world we live in.  You will need to choose your non-noveling activities with care this month. There will be commitments you must meet – your day job, family time, Thanksgiving dinner, and so on will not be put off by your need to make your daily word count.  But, you will find that you must cut back on other types of socializing, social media, after dinner drinks, football games, tv watching, sleep.

9) To read or not to read has always been the toughest question.  I am a reader.  Most writers are insatiable readers.  I often have two or three books going at a time.  During NaNo though, I have to approach my reading differently.  I will not read what I am writing.  I write YA fantasy so reading YA fantasy is a no-no.  I don’t want to compare my beginning novel with a published one, and I don’t want to get so caught up in a plot in the same genre that it can bleed into my writing. I will try instead to read Stephen King, or Nora Roberts – something in a completely different genre. I will read something motivational, a writing book, a creativity book – a pep talk between two covers. And I will only read once my daily word count is met!

10) Let there be prizes! Those who win at NaNo, win bragging rights of the I-wrote-a-novel-in-a-month variety.  There are often sponsors who provide discounts on writing software, bookstores and self publishing packages to those who finish, and let us not forget the certificate you get when you win. But in order to truly push yourself through the difficult writing sessions (and there will be difficult writing sessions) you need prizes.  I buy a NaNo participant tee when I sign up to reward myself for being brave.  Then before the insanity begins, I make a list of what my prize will be at each 10,000 word mark – a writer mug, a pretty journal, something silly that reminds me of my story.  The 50,000 word mark earns a winner tee, and something writerly – last year, it was the discounted Scrivener software offered to the winners. And be sure to stick to the list – no buying prizes before you have accomplished the goal!

Tick Tock, my friends… If you haven’t joined yet, NaNo awaits!


  1. Alisa Russell

    I like the whole present thing. I’ll have to try that for extra inspiration.

    • Presents and prizes are great motivators. The trick is to not just give yourself the prize out of pity when you don’t meet your goal! The participation prize has no place here. Only wordcount will win you accolades! 🙂

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