Write On! How I NaNoWriMo
By Stephanie Olivieri

NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month—starts November 1st. I do this every year and started in 2006. What do I do to prepare? To be honest, nothing. The first time I did NaNo, I was told that you weren’t allowed to even have an outline. Plus, I decided to do it on Halloween, so I couldn’t have prepared if I wanted to. The novel I wrote was published six months later by a small, independent publisher.

I have done NaNoWriMo a few times now, and I never plan. I am sorry to say that, because I am sure you want some magic formula that makes it easy, but there isn’t one. The only plan I actually do make is how many words to hit every day and I stick to that. When I started, the word count was 70,000—now it’s 50,000 words—so I always aim to hit that. Plus, novels aren’t novels if they are under that number, so I figure, if I am going to do this, I want it to be a novel, not a novella. Unless you are writing YA, then it can be between 50-70K—that is the general rule.

To write 70,000 in a month you have to write 2,333 per day, which is less than a chapter, and really not that hard. I think what bogs writers down is trying to always be brilliant and over-thinking.

My advice is just to write every day towards your goal. I also am not a huge fan of outlining, because for me, I find that the characters take me on a journey and, if I plan too much, than I am always disappointed when they change the story.

This is how I prepare for NaNooWriMo:

1. I start with a title, or basic idea for the story.

2. Make a plan of how many words per day to hit.

3. Get lots of writing buddies and supportive people around me.

4. I write without editing.

This is what works for me. One year my friend and I met every day at Starbucks and talked about our stories as they unfolded. We both hit out goals and we did it together. The best thing you can do is to make sure you are writing every day. … Also, write something new, not a story you have been thinking about for years, just write something fresh. I would avoid outlining, because, before you know it, the month is half over, and you just have an outline. Don’t try to be perfect, just tell a story: beginning, middle and end. You can do it, just be confident and write.

Post your NaNoWriMo profile link in the comments, if you want to connect. Plus, be sure to post and report on your weekly goals on the Write On! Facebook page.

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Stephanie Olivieri is a script consultant who lives in Los Angeles.


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  1. […] profile link in the comments, so we can support each other. Also check out NaNoWriMo articles by Stephanie Olivieri and Jeanne Veillette […]

  2. […] profile link in the comments, so we can support each other. Also check out NaNoWriMo articles by Stephanie Olivieri and Jeanne Veillette […]


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