Skip to main content

Thoughts on National Novel Writing Month

We're two days into National Novel Writing Month. As I write this, I'm 10k words into my novel and it feels good to finally be working on it after a month of prep work.

But how can NaNo help you?

Well, it can do a lot of things.

Personally, I think the two most important aspects of NaNo are the community you can find and the encouragement into a daily writing habit.

During November, writers seem to come out of the woodwork like termites. They're everywhere. Some of these writers are only NaNoers, though, and they're not going to help you maintain your habits through the year and be part of your regular community. But you're going to be going to write-ins at your local area, mixing with others who are dedicated to at least write one book. You'll find people you click with. You'll be on the forums and in the chatrooms, finding that tribe of people near you that you need.

I feel like all writers need that tribe of creative people who know exactly what their affliction is because they're equally infected.  NaNo is a great way to see who has the disease.

Then, it's in building a daily writing habit. And mileage varies on this. For me, writing every day is necessary for maintaining my moment and my sharpened edge. For others, writing every day is a drag and they need to recharge their batteries. If you know you're that kind of writer, then ignore this part. It wasn't until I'd done NaNo a lot that I realized that a daily habit would be the right course of action for me, but trying it out through NaNo was something I needed.

Today, thanks to the training wheels NaNo put on me, today is my 850th consecutive day of writing something. I've written well over a million words in that time, and more than a few books. I plan to write more. I want to keep going for the foreseeable future. But the value in NaNo for me was seeing that discipline in action. Now, I regularly do 50k words a month, spread across novels, short stories, columns, and the like. It's no sweat.

That's why I'm pushing myself to do 100k this month. I've come close this year before, but this month I'm dedicated. And I don't want to fall behind.

What can you do to help stay motivated?

  • Outline. Get yourself an idea about where you're going and write that out. Then go back to the beginning and take another pass, fleshing that outline out as you go.
  • Word Wars. With those other writers you've found in your community, in person, online, or wherever, compete. Set aside 15 minutes and see who can write the most words in that space of time. I guarantee that healthy competition is motivating.
  • Dedicate time and reward yourself for it. There is nothing more important to NaNo than dedicating the time to write. Hit your daily goal? Take yourself to lunch. Buy some chocolate. See a movie.
  • Plan for the future. If your book gets finished, you can actually query it (after heavy revisions, of course.) Think about who you might send your book to and how it might look bound.
  • Read. During NaNo, it's easy to focus so much on writing that you forget to read, but reading is what puts gas in your writing tank. Do it. Read lots.
  • Watch movies. Stories, in general, can help fill that writing tank. Consume stories.
I'd go on with that list, but I need to get back to my novel myself.

Good luck!


As a reminder: Please join my short story Patreon here. Your contributions to the Patreon help me write more like this. When I hit 50 patrons, everyone will get a copy of Lost at the Con.

The Aeronaut and Escape Vector are still out and still need your purchases and reviews. If nothing else, they can use you telling people about them. If you want signed copies, visit the shop here on this page. 

Also! here's the full list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process. 

 As far as my work outside of all this: There's a lot of great stuff on Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith for you.

 And please, please, please don't forget to check out any of my books, drop reviews of them on Amazon or Goodreads, and follow me on Twitter and Facebook!


Popular posts from this blog

Salt Lake Comic Con 2017 Schedule

It's time for another year of Salt Lake Comic Con and another hectic schedule for me. But! that doesn't mean it's not a helluva lot of fun. I hope you're able to join me at any of these panels. Especially if you like Star Wars. And please, please, please come to my signing and visit. Get some books signed. I'd love that enormously. Here is my Thursday schedule: Everything here is a highlight. That first panel about behind the scenes of the prequels is with Pablo Hidalgo and I'll be asking him questions about what it was like to be there on set for most of the prequels. Then I'll be asking questions of Michael Biehn, who I've been a fan of since I was a little kid. Aliens and Terminator were favorites. If you want to ask him a question, please hit me up on Twitter with it. I will ask it at the panel. And you don't want to miss Fauxthentic History's Infinity Gauntlet live episode. It's going to be soooo good. Here is Friday:

The Missed Opportunities of Days Gone By

“Hello?” I said into the phone, accepting the call from a number I didn’t recognize. “Hey,” the feminine voice on the other replied, as though I should know the sound of her voice. At a loss, I said, “Can I help you?” “It’s Brooke.” Her name stopped me. It couldn’t possibly be her. We hadn’t spoken in years, a decade perhaps. “Brooke?” “Yeah, Brooke Baker. This is Mark, right?” Jesus Christ. It was her. “Yeah, it is Mark. Brooke. Wow. How are you? It’s been a long time since… well… since anything.” “I know.” “So, how are you doing?” “Okay, I suppose…” Her voice belied her words, though. Something was up. “I… It’s just been so long and I guess I wanted to hear your voice.” “I don’t think I had a number for you. Ever. I offered a couple of times, but…” “I was a brat back then.” And that’s how a random phone call turned into a two-and-a-half hour catch-up session. We spoke of everything under the sun: people we still knew, how different we were, h

The End of an Era and a New Beginning

It's been a long time coming, but I think an upgrade to my web presence was long overdue. I began this blog in 2005 and it's served me well over the last 13 years. My goal in those early days was to write a short story every month. Back then, that was the only writing I was doing. This website, then called "Bryan's Short Story Corner," got me into a regular writing habit. One that I still maintain today. I hoped it would help me get eyeballs on my words and, looking back at some of those early short stories, I shouldn't have wanted any of those eyeballs looking. Today, my Patreon fills that void. There is a dedicated group of supporters there that help subsidize my ability to write short stories on the regular. After I started publishing books, this blog morphed into a place to talk about my projects and writing and it worked well enough for that for a long time. But now I have Twitter and Medium for those functions and they have much cleaner and easi