Wisdom Nuggets

Senna  Collings shares some muddy middle advice for those of us who get bogged down. This is usually the point when I  start to go back over my  writing and edit.  Bad Idea! I always lose steam in the middle. In the past I’ve given into the Nazi editor, and cut over 25K words from my work. What was I thinking? 

This year I am trying a different approach. I have implemented Lazette Gifford’s system, and broken down my outline into 30 points.  I have an index card with notes for each day.  So far it’s working pretty well except for those days I haven’t been able to write. ( See Senna’s point #3) 

I must admit to violating #1, 3, and 4. (hangs head in shame) But we keep at it, each year  learning to do better.  I think anyone who is doing NaNoWriMo will benefit from these nuggets, as well as anyone who is considering tackling it in the future. So now I will hand things over to Senna Collings!


The halfway point for NaNo is always super rough. I find myself rejoicing that I’ve made it this far, and then getting frustrated that I still have half a novel to write and less than half of the steam I’d had when I started.

Usually around this time, I start snooping around the forums. The NaNo veterans always have these little Nuggets Of Wisdom hiding in just about every thread they post in. Now that I’ve been doing this for four years, I probably have my own Nuggets to hand out to new writers, but any time anyone asks for advice,  I end up going “someone else has to have a better Nugget for this than I do.”

I end up feeling like just a little baby WriMo, still fumbling through blocks of text and sloppy character development. The truth of the matter is, though, that I have learned a few things through the years, and these things have developed into Nuggets to add on top of the Nuggets I’ve harvested from others.  In an attempt to transition into a wise, seasoned veteran of NaNo, I will pass along my own Wisdom Nuggets to you.

  1.  Nothing is permanent (usually.) I know you have the best plotline, the best name for your novel, the best characters who will do everything exactly the way you planned, but I’m going to drop a bomb on you here; there is about a 75% chance that something is going to change in there. Rather than fight it, go with it, see where it leads you. This is great writing advice in general, but it’s especially good for NaNo, when you need to make word count for the day. November is the time to write. December is when you can (and should!) revise. Don’t like where that passage went? Take care of it in December.
  2.  The Pixar Storytelling Rules are probably your best friend. My personal favorite? “Coincidences that get your character into trouble are great. Coincidences that get your character out of trouble are cheating.” Does the bad guy just happen to not be home when your heroes sneak into their lair? You’re cheating, my friend. It’s a lot more fun to write (and read!) about your characters wriggling their way out of problems.
  3. Don’t stop when you hit your word count for the day. Seriously. Believe me. If you have even a smidge of time and energy left to keep writing for the day, DO IT! There are going to be days where your writing time is sabotaged by family, or friends, or possibly even bears on skateboards. There’s also going to be days when none of these things sabotage your time, but your muse is out to lunch for the entire day. Writing as much as you can on days when you have the time and energy is a way to give yourself a buffer for these days. And if you never have an off day, you either have a higher word count than 50,000 by the end of November, or you finish early. Woohoo!
  4. Take care of yourself. Set a timer on yourself for reminders to do so. It’s really easy to neglect to eat (and I mean real food, not chocolate and coffee,) or drink water, or to walk around and rest your eyes from your computer screen or notebook. If you have someone you can ask to remind you to do any of these things, do it. It’s seriously important that you keep yourself healthy through November, since it’s the start of cold and flu season. (Plus, if you get sick, that takes time out of noveling!)
  5. Word sprints are your friend. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, they’re a great way to power through writer’s block. Most write-ins have sprints, but if you’re not able to make it to a write-in, there are a couple alternatives. First are the virtual write-ins NaNo hosts here. You can find the schedule of the upcoming virtual write-ins there, also. They’re really fun and I totally recommend them. If you can’t make it to those, or want something right here, right now, this twitter runs word sprints almost non-stop through November. Give it a shot!
  6. Write. It doesn’t matter how overdone you think your idea is, or how awful your current passage is, or if you don’t plan to publish your novel. It doesn’t matter. Just keep writing. Because once you’re done, you will feel accomplished. You worked really hard on this and now it is finished. Done! Fin! You can now take a load off and celebrate – and you should celebrate. If you want, you can come back and revise your novel in December. But for right now, the best thing you can do is write and write and write so you can get to that celebration point. You can do it! I believe in you!


Senna is a 19-year-old dork who probably could use a nap. When she’s not writing, she should be. She wishes she was Barbie so she could feasibly pursue every career that interests her. For now, she’ll stick with writer and photographer If you’d like to read her ramblings on the world and her childhood memories, you can have a look at her blog here, or you can look at her pretty pictures here.

Are you enjoying my NANO blitz?  Do you have a few tidbits of advice to share? Why not leave them in a comment?   Have you found Senna’s  wisdom nuggets helpful?  Why not leave her a comment to let her know!

Write on my freinds, write on! NANO NANO!