• Blog

    It’s a week until NANOWRIMO 2020, let’s get ready!

    Nanowrimo 2020 badgeHey there,

    It’s almost time for NanoWrimo – National Novel Writing Month where people try to write a 50,000 word draft of a novel in a month. I’ve taken part at various times all the way back to 2011, I believe.

    In 2012, I did a series of posts about prepping that hold the test of time and they’re linked below. (I migrated my website a year ago from Weebly to WordPress and not every image made the journey, but the content is solid and worth a read).

    My life is so different now to then. I don’t have a young family to juggle and I have written a lot of books since. These days it’s not unusual for me to write 50,000 words several months a year but I love the participation and community of Nano and I love getting that final novel for the year done. December is crazy, we all know that and I tend to ease off on the writing in favour of Christmas lunches and drinks with friends.

    I still know a few things work for me:

    1. Get a big count early.

    I love writing a new book. LOVE IT! So the beginning is the easy part. To stay om track for NanNo you need to write 1667 words a day. I like to start with a few 3,00 even 5,000 word days and then I’m ahead and the pressure is off.

    1. Round up.

    Don’t stop at 1667  the recommended daily word count needed to reach your target. Aim to reach at least get to 2000 words a day. You’ll thank yourself mid-month.

    1. Sprints

    That’s where you set a timer for 20 minutes or 30 and just write. Three of those a day and I will make the 1667 easily.

    1. Plotting

    I don’t always plot my books. I’m a weirdo who sometimes just writes, sometimes plots an entire novel and sometimes gets to 15k and plots the rest. Heck, sometimes I make bullet points and just plot the next chapter. The bullet points mean I won’t start at the screen for an hour…I always have a scene I can write.

    1. Remember, it’s a draft.

    This is not what gets published, it’s your first draft, so it’s okay to write and leave things blank– add description later, check this character’s name/hair/eye colour, insert sex scene, research this bit and -MOVE ON. You can fill all that in later, but don’t let it stop you from continuing to write.

    1. Write something fun – especially in 2020.

    It’s going to be work regardless but don’t put yourself in a zone of misery before you begin. We all know this year has been and continues to be tough, so don’t set yourself up for misery and/or failure. Pick a story that will excite you and write that.

    So there’s some advice.…I do recommend you read the post below, especially if you’re a Nano newbie.

    Let me know if you’re signed up for this year in the comments.

    From the 2012 Archives

    Preparing for NaNoWriMo – Part 1 Plan the Writing


    NaNoWriMo – Planning your Life

    NaNoWriMo – Planning your Life


    How to survive NaNoWriMo – Part 3, Organise Your Writing Life

    How to survive NaNoWriMo – Part 3, Organise Your Writing Life


    NaNoWriMo Planning Series – Part 4 – Plan to care for Your Body


    My 2017 Advice

    Preparing for NaNoWriMo the 2017 edition

  • Blog

    Growing the #NaNoWriMo word count, ordering print copies and singing along on #MusicalMonday


    Crazy Busy Messy Work Space
    November already and that means NaNoWriMo is underway.

    Here’s a little update from me this far. As I type (4pm)my word count is 13, 038 words thus far. I managed 6,000 on Saturday, and just over 4,000 tomorrow. I feel I can probably manage a few more today so hopefully another 4,000 word day.

    That seems like a lot and it is. I don’t write like that normally. The truth is I didn’t have anything I had to do this weekend socially and so I didn’t make any plans. My husband was working and my daughter was recovering from exam week so she was fine with having a mellow time of it. That allowed me the luxury of indulging myself by doing not much besides writing.

    The weeks don’t work that way. I have work deadlines, social commitments, places to take the kid to and from. I like to get ahead when I can so that when reality hits hard I don’t fall too far behind.

    Take a look at that photo up there. That’s my writing space. We’re half way through repainting the inside of our very open plan house. So that means this week I’ll be shunted around in the chaos. Oh yes, I probably should help a little so that takes time. A very good incentive to get head, don’t you think?

    Alphabet Dating, A Fair Exchange and Building Attraction Paperbacks
    Aren’t these pretty? I have paperbacks of my first five stand alone novels. They’ll be live on Amazon any day. I’ll let you know. I also have a box on their way to me as next week I’m having a table with another author at the local Christmas night markets. I hope I sell loads.
    It is always hard to sell e-books at something like that. I like selling paperbacks and one feels very authorial signing copies but the truth is I don’t make any more profit this way. Still, I’m well aware, especially here in Australia, how many people still prefer a paperback.

    And now for musical Monday. Let me find a song to fit the mood of my current project.

  • Blog

    Preparing for NaNoWriMo the 2014 edition

    Electric Keyboard and Coffee CupIt’s October which means all over the world writers are gearing up for NaNoWriMo.

    NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s a project with a basic aim – during the month of November enthusiastic writers from across the globe set themselves the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel in a single month. (Some crazy people set themselves 100,000 word challenges and other seemingly unattainable goals but let’s just leave them off to the side, shall we?)

    Here is the link to the official site http://nanowrimo.org/

    In 2012 I wrote a series of blog posts on how to prepare for this epic event. If you haven’t read them they cover topics such as like plotting, meal preparation, eliminating distractions and even exercise.

    They were:
    Part 1 – Plan Your Writing
    Part 2 – Plan Your Life for NaNoWriMo
    Part 3 – Plan the month of Writing – or tips to
    Part 4 – Plan to Care for your Body ( A Guest post from physiotherapist & author Terri Green)

    This year I have a few more suggestions I’d like to make. I completed NaNoWriMo again last year and it was kind of rough. The reasons for that were many and varied but largely I ignored my own advice and made things harder for myself than they needed to be.

    Here are a few general tried and true tips that I think you should follow even if you don’t go read my other highly detailed posts.

    1. This is not the time to genre hop.
    If you think you’d like to write an epic fantasy but you don’t have a plot and you usually write sweet romances, chances are you will fail. You’ll stall, you won’t have structures or the habits you’re used to using to fall back on. Write what you know how to write. (I didn’t do this last year and while I did finish there is no way that novel is even a little bit salvageable).

    2. Do some planning.
    I don’t mean a detailed plot map, unless that’s how you usually roll, but have a think about your story in the coming weeks. Have a beginning in mind, gather a cast of characters in your imagination and get some vision together. It will make it easier.

    3. Get Ahead.
    If you can get even a little bit ahead it seems to bode well for success. Tell yourself it’s 2,000 words a day not 1677, even that really helps. If you can while that story is fresh and you’re feeling it hit that word count hard the first few days. This year 1st November is a Friday. Make that weekend count. If you can really get a good start then you will be set up for a good month.

    4. Every day counts – make that every minute.
    The fifteen minutes you usually waste waiting at the school gate sitting in the car, your lunch break (right I know, no one gets an hour anymore), the ten minutes you have while you wait for the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook now all have value. You can maybe squeeze out a few hundred words during each…that might be half your daily word count. Set a timer and do a sprint for 15 minutes or half an hour, you’ll be amazed how many words you generate. This small blocks of time we usually waste really keen make a big difference to your NaNoWriMo success or failure.

    5. Get a support crew
    It’s often recommended you tell everyone your writing a book this November. (I don’t hold with that necessarily because people don’t seem to care overly, you may spend valuable time explaining this to someone you barely know and you just won’t get that time back and let’s face it they probably think it’s a nutty pursuit.)

    I recommend you tell all the people that matter. For me this has two prongs. So to me that means tell the people you live with because they need to know and they can help you or hinder you. Tell your friend who you know will drop past wanting to have a coffee/ a wine/ a whinge or talk about themselves ad nauseum (not that I have any friends like that). Tell that person on the committee you refused to assist on that you still can’t help. You get the idea.

    Basically, tell people who will want time you don’t have so that they understand why you’re distracted and you can say “Hey, remember I’m doing this write a novel in a month thing, can we maybe see a movie in December”.

    And tell your cheerleaders – your husband or boyfriend who wants you to succeed, tell your writing buddies so you can have them call to check on you and you can discuss plot holes, writers block and all the people who want to suck your time. These are the people who will keep your bottom in the chair (“Don’t move, I’ll make dinner” or “Let’s do a writing sprint – go!) and who you need in your corner so you need to tell them.

    6. Have fun
    Writing is fun (sometimes/usually). Setting out to write a book in a month (well a first draft anyway) is a silly idea, it’s a fanciful notion so enjoy the whimsy of it.

    We’re so sensible and grown up most of the time. We keep our feet firmly planted here in a reality made up of jobs and mortgages, of orthodontist visits, carpools and spreadsheets. We’re polite to people who probably don’t deserve it and we put our needs aside for others.

    This November enjoying the art of make believe. Relish the opportunity to create a new world full of new characters and adventures. Celebrate the idea that you can have new ideas and take chances all without leaving the comfort of your keyboard.



    10/14/2013 12:21:16 pm

    Great tips. I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo the last couple of years & failed both times… must get more organised for this year!

    Sarah Belle
    10/14/2013 03:02:40 pm

    Excellent advice, Monique! I am a NaNoWriMo virgin but will be popping my cherry this year – definitely with your advice!
    10/14/2013 03:50:07 pm

    Melissa I really think organisation and planning are the keys to success.
    10/14/2013 03:50:46 pm

    Sarah Belle we can cheer each other along!

    Cinthia Ritchie
    10/28/2015 05:25:15 am

    Love these idea, and so helpful, too. This is my first year attempting NaNoWriMo and while I have my novel somewhat mapped and my characters profiled, etc., the idea of writing, and producing, each day is rather daunting. Scary, actually. I love that you said that it’s a silly idea. Because it is. But it’s also kind of a brilliant, too. Cheers and happy writing.
    10/29/2015 04:27:06 pm

    Good luck Cinthia. If you want to buddy up on the NaNo site let me know. It is silly but also lots of fun.

    10/28/2015 05:52:38 am

    Thanks for the advice – this will be my 3rd year, and I’m hoping a different approach might let me win this time!
    10/29/2015 04:27:49 pm

    I’m sure you’ll win this time…think of all you learned from the last experiences…you’ll nail it!

    Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie
    10/28/2015 08:48:26 am

    I definitely think the key to NaNoWriMo is having your ducks in a row by November 1. Outline, plan, plot. And then WRITE your tail off! It’s so much fun. But I do wonder who chose November as the month. Ugh! Such a busy time of the year.
    10/29/2015 04:29:57 pm

    November is actually a good month for me…and I like ending the year on a writing high…

    Pauline Wiles
    10/28/2015 09:35:57 am

    Love these tips, especially about getting ahead and making the small bits of time count. Thanks, from a first time NaNo-er!
    10/29/2015 04:28:43 pm

    One thing I love about NaNo actually is it holds a mirror up to how much time we waste…not a bad reminder for us writers.
    10/29/2015 04:30:24 pm

    Good luck!!!! You can do it.

    Jackie Bouchard
    10/28/2015 03:17:09 pm

    Great tips! I’ve only done Nano once, but I finished, and that book eventually got turned into “Rescue Me, Maybe.” One of these days I’d like to do it again – but, man, it’s tough! Best of luck to you!

    Tracy Krimmer
    10/28/2015 04:43:30 pm

    I’m not genre hopping, but writing a YA romance instead of adult 🙂

    Cassandra Piat
    10/29/2015 03:24:39 am

    That sounds like a lot of hard work and a lot of fun 🙂 Thanks for the great advice. Will have to give it a try one day!

    10/29/2015 04:16:05 pm

    I lol’d at “I ignored my own advice”.

    I’ve not done NaNo, but your tips are awesome.
    10/29/2015 04:29:19 pm

    Thanks Sandie!

    Melissa Sugar
    10/24/2016 03:23:05 pm

    Fabulous post chock full of informative tips for getting a jump start on NaNo and crossing the finish line. I especially like the tips about getting ahead when we can. You never know when you won’t be able to write on a certain day, so getting ahead really helps. And even those 15-30 minute increments add up. I’ve written some of my best work while waiting on kids to finish soccer practice or waiting for them to come out to the car at one place or another. I have complete solitude and nothing like a television to distract me and usually no one to interrupt me. Thanks for sharing your suggestions. I wanted to let you know that when I clicked on the links you provided for more NaNo tips ( you’d written in previous years or maybe from other bloggers- not sure now) the links didn’t work. It could be a problem on my end. I don’t know if anyone else had the same problem. I got one of those 404 page messages. Just thought you would want to know, in case you need to fix a broken link. I’m sure everyone else is as eager as I am to read more of your helpful ideas and tips. Thanks again and good luck with NaNo this year.

  • Blog

    NaNoWriMo – the final prep post.


    Hearts AfireNaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) starts November 1st or this Thursday. Hopefully if you’ve not done it before, or done it in a crazy panic some of my Preparing for NaNoWriMo posts here on the blog have been helpful.

    Part One – Plan your writing

    Part Two – Planning your life


    Part 3 – Organising your life


    Part 4 -Care for your body




    I suppose one of the things we should also discuss is – why do it at all?

    If you’ve always wanted to write a book and never done it because it’s too hard, you don’t have time, your a perfectionist, you start but you never finish…the list of reasons why could be long…this your chance to churn out a book (that will be fifty steps from perfect) in a short amount of time and then you can say “I did it.” There’s nothing wrong with achieving a goal, is there?

    If you have a great idea that’s been churning around in your head this is a wonderful way to get it on paper and then you have something to work with…something to edit and mould in the future.

    If you do write but you are the sort of person who has to re-work the same three pages for six months then NaNoWriMo is a great way for you to make some serious forward progress on a book.

    Do you assume a book written in a month will be useless rubbish and therefore this exercise is a waste of time? Well as your book stands at the end of November it probably is useless rubbish but lots of NaNoWriMo books end up getting published – after plenty of editing and re-writing down the track. Like Water for Elephants came from Sara Gruen’s NaNoWriMo novel. My friend Pam Cook’s novel Blackwattle Lake is being published by Hachette at the end of November and it was a NaNoWriMo novel. Hearts Afire my latest novel started out as a NaNoWriMo book.

    What you end up with is the bones of a novel around which to build.

    The main reason you should do it, if you like writing, is that it’s fun! It may be slightly tortured and frustrating fun but at the end of November you do feel pretty darn pleased with yourself, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that.


    10/28/2012 12:02:59 pm

    hank you for your series of NaNoWriMo posts. I’ve found all of them useful and will use some of the hints throughout November.

    I am the kind of person that spends ages editing a couple of paragraphs or pages, so I look forward to pushing on and not editing until after NaNo. I’ve been preparing for almost a month, and really can’t wait until 1st November when I can actually start writing.
    10/28/2012 12:07:52 pm

    Thanks Lauren. I’m the same now…bring on Nov 1st.