20 Things I’d Tell My Younger Self About NaNo

I’ve attempted NaNo six times. I’ve won twice. What’s crazy is that I was 18 when I attempted it the first time and in the seven years since then, my writing has grown up right along with me. The themes and topics I cover in my writing, the way I write, the characters I create, all echo the development I’ve gathered over the past few years.

So I figured for the sake of anniversaries and memory, why not write past Alexis a little list of tips for NaNoWriMo? And share it with you all too?

I hope you enjoy it.

  1. No matter how this ends, you’re going to be a better writer for it. So don’t stress.
  2. Read every pep talk. Save the ones you like the most.
  3. USE every pep talk. Let the advice get in your heart and resonate out in your writing.
  4. Sometimes the best things you’ll write will be when you wake up at 2am. Sometimes the best things you’ll write will happen at noon. If you need to follow inspiration, do what you must and follow her.
  5. Find friends. They’ll ultimately make you successful and make the whole process more fun.
  6. Adjectives are your friend.
  7. So are commas.
  8. Allow yourself to get into your characters’ heads. Into what they think and feel and how they reason. I know you don’t want to seem too deep or too emotional, but that’s where the juice is.
  9. Try writing outside of the first person. You can do so much more in the third person.
  10. You have so much you want to say. Don’t worry, eventually, over time and many stories, you’ll say it. Don’t worry about putting all of it in one story.
  11. The only way to get through NaNo is to get over the novelty of it. It’s crazy and insane, and something to mark on your bucket list. But it’s also what you want to do with your life. This is the start of finding your world. Get through it yes, but remember that life continues on after NaNo too. What you do after NaNo is most important.
  12. Don’t stay up late to write unless you need to make a word count. Lack of sleep and an over-coffeed brain won’t do you any favors.
  13. Front load yourself. Start off by aiming high with your word count. Instead of 1667 words per day, for the first week, aim for 2000. You’ll feel accomplished and when Thanksgiving comes around and you’re busy with family and friends, you won’t be stressing about word count.
  14. Actually, just don’t stress about your word count. Some days you’ll hit the nail on the head and get the minimum, other days you’ll have bursts of inspiration and write 4K. Still other days you’ll write maybe 300 words or nothing at all. That’s ok. It all evens out in the end.
  15. Even if you can’t write, look at your story every day. Even if you can’t write, read over your outline, think about the scene you just wrote, play with your opening line. Keeping your story in front of mind will help you keep at it. Besides, there’s plenty to think on.
  16. Don’t drink coffee. You’ll get antsy. Try tea instead.
  17. If you have a tough scene coming up, pause the stress. Light a candle, turn on some soft music and do a bit of yoga. Do your favorite stretches and take a minute to write down your fears, your uncertainties, and your anxieties. Then sit down, open your document, take a deep breath, and write. Just go.
  18. Don’t think so much. Your story can think for itself. All you have to do is write it.
  19. Remember that if you don’t finish, the world will continue on. If you do finish, the world will continue on. What matters isn’t whether or not you finish.
  20. What matters is that you tried.

Cheers friends!



Alexis Truitt

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *