Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Jennifer's Rules for Surviving NaNo...

Posted by Jennifer Baylor at The Writing Cocoon.  
Filed under "NaNoWriMo

My personal rules for surviving NaNoWriMo, gleaned from the experience of just one NaNo (Yeah, I catch on quick):
  1. Do not stay up all night writing. Once you've switched day and night, there's no coming back to sanity, my dear.
  2. Before you even think of spending hours on forums and blogs, write your damned word count.
  3. When you've had two pots of coffee, it's time to switch to decaf (and drink some water, for the love of Jupiter).
  4. Anything the cat "types" by running across the keyboard is fair game in NaNo word count.
  5. Save, then save again. Then email a copy to yourself. They put it on your USB drive. Then, and only then, are you safe from calamities such as cats who erase documents (see #4 above). Some things you have to learn the hard way.
  6. Drinking alcohol while writing is acceptable WriMo behaviour. 
  7. Try to change out of your pajamas, if not daily, then at least a few times per week. I keep a pair of sweats crumpled on the floor next to my bed for easy, pre-coffee dressing. 
  8. Taking a break for fresh air and exercise is not only a good idea, but it is an all-out necessity. This will prevent your poor spouse from finding you, sitting in a pink bathrobe in the middle of your office floor, crying and laughing while throwing index cards into the air. Plus I read somewhere, something about your brain needing oxygen and exercise increases oxygen, right? Really, take a break already.
  9. Eating ten bags of microwave popcorn is just asking for trouble. Similar advice could be given about overindulging in just about anything. Try not to snack your brains out.
  10. Do not stare at a blank screen/page for hours. This accomplishes nothing. Put fingers to keyboard and write, even if it is gibberish.
  11. At the end of the day/night/whatever, take ten minutes to sketch out the first two scenes you plan to write the next day/night/whatever. Even though you have two claws instead of hands and your eyes are angry red orbs of fire and your spine is bent and crooked making you resemble the old crone in your story...take ten more minutes to prepare. 'Cause tomorrow you'll still have claws and red eyeballs and a hump, but you won't have to think about what you need to write.
  12. For the love of all that is good, DON'T FALL BEHIND IN YOUR DAILY WORD COUNT. If you do, the likelihood of the above rules coming into play increases 10,000%. In fact, pad the word count whenever possible.


  1. Hah hah ha, very good advice all around.

  2. Great advice. Am going to get me another cat then.

  3. Jeff - you know I learned those rules the hard way.

    Debbie - by all means, get two more cats. Have them chase one another across the keyboard. Whatever helps!