At last year’s write-ins

Oh, it’s October and it’s getting closer to Halloween and the temperatures are getting cooler. (Unless you live in Louisiana. In that case it’s still summer.)

For most writers, that means it’s time to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Don’t know what that is? Where have you been! This is the superbowl for writers…kinda…well, it is for me.

Last year, I decided to write a novel in a month TWO days before the month started. Next thing I know, come Nov. 30th, I’m printing out my certificate and doing the I won dance in the middle of my office.

This year, I already know that I’m not participating. I just have too much on my plate this year. I was asked by the Shreveport Writer’s Club to put together a presentation for next month’s meeting on NaNoWriMo and perhaps some tips.

The key to winning this thing, or how I won, came down to some basic things. Four basic things. Below are four more.

1.) Scrivener is amazing. Use it.

Last year’s book

Download this software! Scrivener. This software housed my outline, what little background/research I did, and pushed out my manuscript to PDF already formatted.

It also allowed me to write my story in scenes.

Humans are already pre-programmed to write in order– first, second, third–and that’s how we typically tell stories. What helped me last year is that I didn’t write my story in order. That’s why I found Scrivener so helpful. Because it sectioned it off, I can just start a new section for a scene. I can move around scenes in the order I want them to be by just dragging and dropping. So I never worried about what happens next, I could just write the scenes that I knew needed to happen and then focus on the in between parts, which became all the more interesting.

It’s $40 and it’s 100 percent worth it. I’m a huge fan!

2.) Use a spreadsheet.

This is the one I used last year. This is how I kept up with my word count. I would take my count from Scrivener and put it in the spreadsheet which told me how many words I had left, the percentage completed and (here’s the best part) based on my pace, when I was expected to have the novel done.

There are other spreadsheets out there but this one was by far my favorite.

3.) Don’t do it alone.

Part of our NaNo group from last year.

You gotta have a posse for this, if only to keep you accountable. I found that connecting with my local region and going to write-ins was helpful. I would talk things about with people and  participate in writing sprints. For me, the writing sprints were so helpful. In a 15 minute stretch we would challenge ourselves to see who could write the most words. A couple of those sprints and you could easily get 1,000 or more words in a session.

Don’t just limit yourself to your local group, use social media. Last year, folks used Google Plus and Twitter to host writing sprints. Those could also be helpful if you needed a jolt of words.

4.) When you do win, you get one of these. You should plaster it EVERYWHERE.


When I finally did win, I was tired, hungry, and so happy. I had a sense of accomplishment and a certificate that probably cost about 9 cents but in my eyes, it was worth a million bucks. I will forever know what it’s like to put my mind to something and accomplish it, no matter how crazy it is. And I also have a manuscript to work on should I chose to work on it.

Want more tips? Here’s my NaNoWriMo toolbox.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Did you win last year?