Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Lisa's Survival Guide to NaNo by Lisa Bouchard

Aaaaaand we're OFF!!!

Squeezing NaNoWriMo into our busy lives is challenging, but with a little forethought we can sail through November and have shiny new novels to call our own.
There are some things we can do without for the month. I’d suggest eating lunch at your desk and writing instead of going out and watching less TV.  Consider watching less TV, there’s nothing good on, anyway. Some things, however, we need to make sure we don’t neglect, like:
--Work or School
--Family and Relationships
Work is, for most people, non-negotiable. We have to continue to get up every day and head in to the office – on time – or make it to all your classes.  Let’s make a pact not to lose our jobs or fail out of school this November, m’kay? 
Eating properly. Not nearly as sexy as pounding out our novels fuelled by nothing but Starbucks for days on end, but our brains need nutrition to work properly. We all know what good nutrition is, or at least we know it’s not drive through every night or sugary cereals in the mornings. 
Here’s good nutrition in a nutshell: drink water with every meal, make your grains whole grains (whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain pastas), eat your fruits and veggies without coating them in sugars and/or fats, eat protein a couple times a day. Eat low fat dairy products (not ice cream here) once or twice a day. One dessert every other day. Fruits and veggies for snacks. 
While this won’t pass any nutritionist’s muster, it’s not a bad start. And don’t over caffeinate, we won’t need to once we get used to the next item on our list.
Sleep! We all love it. Waking up well-rested feels great. So why is it we don’t make it a priority? I may be the world’s biggest hypocrite here, I get up very early to write before the kids wake up but I rarely drag myself to bed before 11 pm. This November we will be pushing our brains to the limit, so to bounce back every day we need to let the little gray cells rest. Sleep is as non-negotiable as work, so 6, 7, 8 hours – you know what you need. Make sure you get it.
I’ll be better at it as well. I promise.
Exercise, the bane of modern life. I admit I’ve cut out exercise in an attempt to get more writing time. It worked for me, but in the long run 30 minutes on my treadmill every other day is a small price to pay for still being able to fit in my clothing on December 1st. I’m fortunate to have a treadmill in my living room, but you could go for a walk to work out your plotting for the day before you sit down to write.

Take your dog out for one longer walk every day. Hop on your bike and ride around the neighborhood. Don’t want to do any of those, or live in the frigid north like me? Check out these online exercise videos.
Finally, family and relationships. You know, those people who like you and like spending time with you. Try not to ignore them. Prepare them in advance, let them know you’ll be writing a novel and on December 1st you’ll all go out and celebrate your staggering work of genius and their infinite patience.
I find the most important thing about relationships is that people want to feel like they’re special to you. Keeping on top of that should keep peace in your house. And remember, actions speak louder than words here, but remembering to say “Thank you” and “I love you” can keep you out of hot water (at any time of the year).
So, keep these five critical areas in check and we’ll make it through November ready to write our sequels in January.

Tell us what your survival guid is like. Do you find it easy or hard to follow through?

Lisa Bouchard, 10 year veteran of NaNoWriMo, is up at 4 am to write before all hell breaks loose her children wake up. From there it’s all downhill but somehow the novels keep getting written. You can find her all over the internet, starting with her website Writing and Kids, her Twitter @Lisa_Bouchard, and her NaNoWriMo user name is Lisa Bouchard.


  1. Great advice!

  2. 10 year veteran! I'm a newbie this year. I will definitely follow your guide - it obviously works!

  3. My survival guide definitely includes eating right (it keeps my brain from melting down), and more importantly, just keeping calm, retaining perspective and not flipping out about Nanowrimo. So many participants, especially new ones, get down on themselves during this time.

  4. I remember how incredibly nervous I was on my first few NaNoWriMos, but I figured if the novels sucked (and they did), no one has to read them. And no one has. Good luck with your novel, Daniel!

  5. Hi Missy, Best wishes for your novel this year.

  6. Thanks, Angie - good luck with your novel!

  7. Hell I'm still nervous now. Good luck, guys! Crank 'em up.