Sunday, October 4, 2009

NaNo Prep

Ah, Fall that wonderful time of year when thoughts turn to warm fires, soups, changing of the leaves and cooler temperatures (here in Southern California cooler means 70˚ or below). However, there is another thing I look forward to - writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Yep, it is that wonderful time of year again when people all around the world plant their butts at their desks (kitchen tables or even the local coffee shop) and pound out a novel.

Thanks to Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writing Month (aka nanowrimo or just nano for short), for giving millions of people the deadline and the drive to undertake this auspicious event every year. This is my fifth year (the last three years I have crossed the finish line). You can join up for free at and join the rest of the crazy wonderful writers and make new friends along the way.

So how do I prepare for this marathon? I start “training” early in the year when an idea pops up and takes the muse (or monkey) by storm - this year it started with a name and last year’s writing playground - and only small tidbits are written down while I continue forward working on non-fiction stuff (which is another great play to mine for ideas). This will continue until October comes around. Then I will give myself two weekends to shape all my notes into a semi-cohesive mess that only I can understand. The work is very rough and wide open to play in, but at least it gets me going in the right direction.

Now that all the pre-work is done, I start collecting and gathering everything else that I will (or think I will) need. These include, but are subject to change based on whims:

1. Making sure that my desktop computer passes a system check;

2. Making sure my Neo (by Alphasmart) batteries are full. This little device is great for writing away from computer (This was my “me” prize when I validated my 2008 word count and saw winner [still trying to figure out this year’s prize]);

3. Pens. Lots of pens. Sometimes just changing to a different pen sparks something new;

4. One special notebook for organization or at least keeping my notes in one specific location;

5. Copious amounts (as Mr. Baty states) of munchies and drinks in all forms from the Snacker’s Food Groups - salty, beefy, sugary and liquids;

6. A writing totem (something to help me keep focused) which is a fedora hat (yes, I wear it when I am writing and get stuck) and a pair of gold plushie dragons that are twins.

I think that is everything, so now I just have to wait until 12:01 a.m. on November 1st to start my caffeinated ride. I better stock up on naps now. If you are interested in trying your hand at writing a novel in 30 days, I suggest you visit the National Novel Writing Month website ( and pick up a copy of “No Plot, No Problem” by Chris Baty and then you too can check off “write a novel” of your life’s “to do” list or like most of us - anxiously await next year to do it all over again while revising your new novel during the year.

See ya at the 50,000 word finish line.


  1. Della you are a true gem! Thank you for this post. Go Della Go!! Practicing my cheer-leading skills. :)

    Debra Saturday

  2. I'm looking forward to trying Nano out for the first time this year. I'll be relying on people who do well (word count wise) to keep me going. But just the fact that you've won three years in a row makes it seem that much more possible.

    Thanks for the post. See you in November.