Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The NaNoWriMo Checklist by Leif G.S. Notae

Pen at the ready. And... GO! (Annastan)

Congratulations! You’ve decided to take on the challenge of NaNoWriMo, good for you! Right now, you’re probably either deciding which outline to use or you forgot that you agreed to participate in NaNo and are now running around the room flipping furniture over to find a pen and some paper.

If you’re in the latter category, go ahead and take care of that first. I can wait.

All better? Good. I am here today to offer you a point of view that worked for me for generating ideas and what goals I set for myself that you could use over November’s long stretch. I offer the disclaimer that my results are not typical and you may not see the same results doing anything I am about to offer.

Your goals should be:

·         1. Finish with more than the average word count a day (1667 words)
o   This gives you a sense of accomplishment and will also shave days off your projected finish date.
o   You will feel better when you take a break from it knowing you did more
o   The opposite sex adores an overachiever*
·        2.  Write in the morning and at night, at least 1000 words for each
o   Musashi said it best, “Any man who wants to master the essence of my strategy must research diligently, training morning and evening. Thus can he polish his skill, become free from self, and realize extraordinary ability. He will come to possess miraculous power.”**
o   Do you really want to argue with a man who wielded two katana? No.
·        3.  Take a break, use a timer
o   Not only will a timer give you a reference on your patterns and behavior, but you can use the timer intervals to reward yourself.
o   In three hours I can write 2000 words with five minute breaks between segments, which means 500 words in 25 minutes. Use a mental rabbit to keep pace. See if you can do more.
o   Use your five minute breaks to move. Stretch. Walk. Pace. Do not stay at your computer.
·       4. Take a break, stop Tweeting/Facebooking/YouTubing
o   Yes, unless you have mastered the skill of “wording” well, you will fall behind with distractions. Use social media as a reward as well. Tell us about your word count after you have finished your goal for the morning or the day.
5. Idea Generation should be:
·         Listen to your characters
o   I have no idea generation tips that override this one. I could say read newspapers, cuddle a puppy, eat chocolate ice cream until you puke, whatever. You have a character speaking to you in your head. They want to tell you their story. Let them. Sure, you might seem crazy, but writing is crazy and it’s filled with crazies like me. Some of us even give you sparkly balloons and pre-licked churros for your efforts.***

With these steps in mind along with your soul and body centered, you will carve your way past this obstacle and make everyone proud you took the NaNo challenge. Remember, even if you don’t complete the 50,000 words, you made the attempt and it will propel you to better things later in your writing life.

*- The opposite sex does not always appreciate an overachiever.
**- Quote provided by MiyamotoMusashi.com. If you’ve never read the Book of Five Rings and you are a writer, do so now. Translate the fighting techniques to writing techniques. It will make sense.
***- The pre-licked churros are a myth. This was a clandestine, black budget, covert-ops shout out to a fellow writer. The sparkly balloons are not a myth. Told you we are crazy.

Do YOU have a checklist for November? What helps you go through the madness?

Leif G.S. Notae (also known as LeiffyV and @Vignirsson) is a hobby writer of short stories, flash and micro fiction along with dark poetry.  He has self-published three novelette ebooks, "Wasteland Ghost",”Lost Hope” and “The Wicked Cat: Voyage (First Arc)” all in September 2011. He was published in Six Minute Magazine under his real name as well as local magazines and newspapers in the Santa Cruz area.  He maintains daily entries in his blog while working with green technology in the county.


  1. You can use this to get started, goals are one thing but a road map helps even more http://writinghood.com/writing/my-novel-writing-formula/

  2. I don't have a checklist. I just kind of fly by the seat of my pants.

    Do people even use that phrase anymore?

    Anyway, great post. Love the suggestions, as well as the humor. :) Good luck on NaNo

  3. I greatly enjoyed this, Leif. The fact that you managed to write a serious post with such helpful tips wedged in among flying furniture and pre-licked churros just reiterates what a talented writer you are. Thanks for the ideas!

  4. Julie Anne Lindsey25 October 2011 at 18:55

    Excellent advice! This is my first year Nonoing and I am so stoked! Plan in hand and ready to do this thing!! Thanks for getting me all amped up AGAIN!

  5. Great advice! Now I can't wait to start :)

  6. YOU ARE AWESOME. I giggled my way through this.

    Also, you are so right about the idea generation - you seem quite crazy but it's totally worth it because my characters don't shut up, so I have plenty of writing material :D

  7. I am sooo screwed. Guess I'm pants-ing it this go-around. Will report back Dec. first and tell you how it went. ;)

  8. There are plenty of people who pants fly, it happens to everyone from time to time. The thing is to try and prevent the walls you might fly into when doing it since pants make terrible co-pilots. Thanks for reading this piece, I'm glad you enjoyed it and bst of luck on NaNo!

  9. That's ok, sometimes you just have to pants it. I did that last year and it turned out all right (13 days to finish). Thanks for taking the time to read, I am glad you enjoyed this piece and best of luck on NaNo!

  10. Thank you for the kind words, I am glad you enjoyed the presentation. Most of the times people try to avoid listening to their characters because they feel it makes them crazy or they know better. They don't. Be a reporter, not a deity. Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it and best of luck on NaNo!

  11. I hope it at least made you giggle while you read it. Thanks for taking the time to read, I am glad you enjoyed the piece and best of luck on NaNo!

  12. Thank you Julie, I am glad the advice got you in the frame of mind to do this. I know it can be intimidating doing it the first time around, but it is well worth it! Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed the piece and best of luck on NaNo!

  13. Thank you Raine, I am glad you enjoyed it enough to comment and lavish me with the talented writer lies... er... heh

    Thanks for taking the time to read this piece, I am glad you enjoyed it!

  14. Sorry Robb. While that might be entertaining, it doesn't apply to the topic at hand. If you have a comment that applies to NaNo and build great relationships by listening to people and reading their concerns, I would be pleased to answer whatever questions you have. I am not sure if you are NaNo'ing or not, but if you are I wish you luck on it.

  15. "Do you really want to argue with a man who wielded two katana? No."
    Best. Line. Ever. lol

    But in all seriousness, I have a rough outline and character profiles on notecards. I've left plenty of room for improv, though. This is my first NaNo, but I think I'm prepared. (I hope.)

    Thanks for an entertaining and informative article. Now where do I get my sparkly balloon?

  16. Darlene Steelman29 October 2011 at 13:39

    Checklist?? I need a *gasp* checklist?! This is my first shot at this so I am unrealistically hopeful.

    Still.. thank you SO much for the heads up! I will be printing out this checklist.



  17. Of course, I was in teh throws of writing my NaNo and didn't get to some posts. The sparkly balloon is a trademark expression and must be authorized by Major League Baseb... Wait, wrong script.

    Thanks for reading this piece, I am glad it went over so well. I used the methods myself and finished my NaNo in three days. Live by what you preach, right?

    Best of luck to you in your NaNo experience Annette. I am pulling for you to finish!

  18. Not really a checklist, more of an advisement for what you should keep in mind. Going into this experience without something to back it up was extremely hard last year (even though I finished it in 13 days).

    Using this method, I finished this years NaNo in three days. Timer, roadmap, listening to my characters and knowing where they wanted to go beforehand. I am not even 40% finished with the entire story either.

    Best of luck to you Darlene, I hope you can make it through this experience and see how wonderful it was later on in life.