12 Tips For National Novel Writing Month Writers

12 Tips For National Novel Writing Month Writers

If you're participating in NaNoWriMo, you're the best kind of crazy.


Writers collectively look forward to and dread the month of November. It is affectionately known as National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo). The goal of this program is to write a novel in a month that is at least 50,000 words long (1,667 words per day). It's absolutely insane and fun, but the goal is to just get it all out so that you can revise it later and make it prettier. This is my sixth consecutive year participating and will hopefully be my 5th year making my word count at the end of November. (Last year was not the move and I did not hit my word count. In fact, I quit after November 2nd.) It's a daunting, but fun program to be a part of. To join, all you need to do is go to nanowrimo.org and create an account to track your progress as well as a lot of other fun features.

For those of you participating, here are 12 tips from a 6-year writer.

1. Don't look over what you've already written.

Every single year, I've fallen into this trap. I want to go back over what I've already written and I end up making small word choice changes or changes of a town or character's name. With that trap, I end up going over what I already had and not increasing my word count by much, if at all. Don't worry about what you've already written until November is over.

2. Don't name your characters

I always always always stress way too much about naming my characters perfectly. Sometimes certain names just suit a character, but it's easier to see that after the story is done and you've seen the character in their entirety. However, in my experience, naming them right off the bat has altered the character I wanted them to become. To combat that problem this year, I assigned each character a letter instead of a name and have a running list of possible names for each character. Side characters are easier to name, so if you don't want to go to extremes, reserve the "work-in-progress" names for main characters only.

3. Hold yourself accountable

As soon as you start slacking, the extra words you have to add on to each day to get back on track gets overwhelming. If you keep yourself on schedule, the word counts are manageable and your goal is still achievable. As soon as you let yourself get behind is when the trouble begins.

4. Try a notebook

This is something new that I've tried for this year. Instead of typing into one long document, I got a journal for my novel and have been counting pages instead of individual words. This has helped me limit the endless distractions my laptop can provide and gives it a more personal feel. There's also just something about putting pen to paper that's particularly satisfying. If you'd like to try this, I wrote a few pages and then counted the words on each page and averaged them out. I got an average of 250 words per page and so I divided the daily word count of 1,667 by 250 and found that I need about 7 pages per day to keep me on track. So far, this has helped tons.

5. Don't overplan

Give yourself a rough outline of where you want to go, how you want to get there, and who you want to take along the way, but don't plan out every minute of the plot. I've tried that and it ended up frustrating me when things didn't go as planned. It ended up being a frustrating waste of a lot of time and I ended up annoyed with myself in the end.

6. Maybe don't plan at all

Some writers opt to start on the first day with nothing in mind and just let it all come to them as it does. I would be way too stressed out with this method, but for some people it works.

7. Make bold choices

Don't be afraid of making a choice that you think might be too wild. This is your first draft. This is where you test things out to see if you like them. If you end up liking them, great! You just did the thing. If not, that's what revision is for. You tried it, you now know you don't like it. Lesson learned.

8. Get your friends to do it with you

There's nothing better than moral support. NaNoWriMo is challenging and it's nice to have friends to challenge and support you. If you don't have any friends interested in joining you, there are also online communities and communities for your area with people who are already noveling this month.

​9. Worry more about quantity than quality

The idea is to get it all out. This is like a giant vent session for your novel. Let all of the ideas and the weirdness and quirkiness come out on the first try and then let it all be sorted through and improved later on. Make it complete now and good later.

​10. Schedule the same block of time every day to write

If something becomes part of your routine, it's easier to forget to write or to let other things get in the way. I'm the worst with this and write whenever I get time, but I really wish I would get over myself and schedule a writing time every day. It would make my life a million times easier.

​11. Keep yourself healthy

Don't kill yourself trying to make the word count each day. Sleeping, eating, and taking time for yourself are all important. If you don't think you can stay healthy and afloat in work/school, then this might not be the right time to participate in NaNoWriMo.

​12. Enjoy it

If this becomes more of a chore than something you look forward to doing, then don't do it. It should be a fun way to encourage yourself to write. It'll get tough from time to time and you shouldn't give up just because of that. If this evokes more dread than excitement, then maybe it's not for you.

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35 Major Life Facts According To Nick Miller

"All booze is good booze, unless it's weak booze."

Fact: If you watch "New Girl," you love Nick Miller.

You can't help it. He's an adorable, lovable mess of a man and you look forward to seeing him and his shenanigans each week. While living the infamous and incomparable life of Nick Miller, and obviously Julius Pepperwood— he has learned many valuable laws of the land. And, although Nick refuses to learn anything from anyone besides his mysterious, old Asian friend Tran, he does have a few lessons he'd like to teach us.

Here are 35 facts of life according to 'Nick Milla Nick Milla':

1. Drinking keeps you healthy.

"I'm not gonna get sick. No germ can live in a body that is 65% beer."

2. Dinosaurs never existed.

"I don't believe dinosaurs existed. I've seen the science. I don't believe it."

3. A paper bag is a bank.

"A bank is just a paper bag but with fancier walls."

4. Having sex is similar to delivering mail.

"I'm like a mailman, except instead of mail it's hot sex that I deliver."

5. Moonwalking is a foolproof way to get out of any awkward situation.

Jess (about Nick): "Now he won't even talk to me. I saw him this morning and he just panic moonwalked away from me. He does that sometimes."

6. Using a movie reference is also a great way.

Cece: "Come on, get up!"

Nick: "No, I don't dance. I'm from that town in "Footloose."

7. There's no reason to wash towels.

Nick: "I don’t wash the towel. The towel washes me. Who washes a towel?"

Schmidt: "You never wash your towel?"

Nick: "What am I gonna do? Wash the shower next? Wash a bar of soap?"

8. Exes are meant to be avoided at all costs (especially if/unless they're Caroline)

"I don't deal with exes, they're part of the past. You burn them swiftly and you give their ashes to Poseidon."

9. IKEA furniture is not as intimidating as it looks.

"I'm building you the dresser. I love this stuff. It's like high-stakes LEGOs."

10. You don't need forks if you have hands.

Jess: "That's gross. Get a fork, man."

Nick: "I got two perfectly good forks at the end of my arms!"

11. Sex has a very specific definition.

"It's not sex until you put the straw in the coconut."

12. Doors are frustrating.

"I will push if I want to push! Come on! I hate doors!"

13. All booze is good booze.

"Can I get an alcohol?"

14. ...unless it's weak booze.

"Schmidt, that is melon flavored liquor! That is 4-proof! That is safe to drink while you're pregnant!"

15. Writers are like pregnant women.

Jess: "You know what that sound is? It's the sound of an empty uterus."

Nick: "I can top that easily. I'm having a hard time with my zombie novel."

Jess: "Are you really comparing a zombie novel to my ability to create life?"

Nick: "I'm a writer, Jess. We create life."

16. All bets must be honored.

"There is something serious I have to tell you about the future. The name of my first-born child needs to be Reginald VelJohnson. I lost a bet to Schmidt."

17. Adele's voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.

"Adele is amazing."

18. Beyoncé is extremely trustworthy.

"I'd trust Beyoncé with my life. We be all night."

19. Fish, on the other hand, are not.

“Absolutely not. You know I don’t trust fish! They breathe water. That's crazy!"

20. Bar mitzvahs are terrifying.

Schmidt: "It's a bar mitzvah!"

Nick: "I am NOT watching a kid get circumcised!"

21. ...so are blueberries.

Jess: "So far, Nick Miller's list of fears is sharks, tap water, real relationships..."

Nick: "And blueberries."

22. Take your time with difficult decisions. Don't be rash.

Jess: "You care about your burritos more than my children, Nick?"

Nick: "You're putting me in a tough spot!"

23. Getting into shape is not easy.

"I mean, I’m not doing squats or anything. I’m trying to eat less donuts."

24. We aren't meant to talk about our feelings.

"If we needed to talk about feelings, they would be called talkings."

25. We're all a little bit too hard on ourselves.

"The enemy is the inner me."

26. Freezing your underwear is a good way to cool off.

"Trust me, I'm wearing frozen underpants right now and I feel amazing. I'm gonna grab some old underpants and put a pair into the freezer for each of you."

27. Public nudity is normal.

"Everbody has been flashed countless times."

28. Alcohol is a cure-all.

"You treat an outside wound with rubbing alcohol. You treat an inside wound with drinking alcohol."

29. Horses are aliens.

"I believe horses are from outer-space."

30. Turtles should actually be called 'shell-beavers.'

Jess: "He calls turtles 'shell-beavers."

Nick: "Well, that's what they should be called."

31. Trench coats are hot.

"This coat has clean lines and pockets that don't quit, and it has room for your hips. And, when I wear it, I feel hot to trot!"

32. Sparkles are too.

"Now, my final bit of advice, and don't get sensitive on this, but you've got to change that top it's terrible and you've got to throw sparkles on. Sparkles are in. SPARKLES ARE IN."

33. Introspection can lead to a deeper knowing of oneself.

"I'm not convinced I know how to read. I've just memorized a lot of words."

34. It's important to live in the moment.

"I know this isn't gonna end well but the middle part is gonna be awesome."

35. Drinking makes you cooler.

Jess: "Drinking to be cool, Nick? That's not a real thing."

Nick: "That's the only thing in the world I know to be true."

Cover Image Credit: Hollywood Reporter

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The End Of An Odyssey: My Time As A Writer

Like all chapters in life, there has to come an end. This ending is by no means easy, but rather one that is bittersweet. But, like all odysseys, it is time for this one to end.


When I first decided I wanted to write for the Odyssey, I was going into my senior year at the University of Maine. I had always been an avid reader of Odyssey articles, whether it was to seek advice, comfort, or sole entertainment. I was always inspired by how raw and honest each article was, and I really wanted to have the chance to write such types of articles as well. When I applied and later got the call that I had made it onto the Odyssey team at UMaine, I was ecstatic! I felt like now was finally the time I could share my innermost thoughts and feelings publicly and work on becoming a better writer.

I have always loved to write. Since the day I first picked up a pencil, writing has been a passion of mine. Now as an Odyssey member, I knew this was my chance to be truly heard.

I began by writing solely political articles, as I was a political science student and loved to shed light on controversial topics. My first article was about the then-recent presidential election. I was full of nerves the day it got published, and rightfully so, as my post drew in many critics. Facebook is a shark-tank of sorts, everyone there is waiting for just the right bait to come out and attack. However, I loved the fact that my opinions were being formally materialized for everyone to see. Pretty much anyone in the world could read my article, which served as an inspiration to keep writing.

What started as a political-only "blog" of sorts slowly evolved into a diary-like platform. I found that writing about whatever hardship I had been going through at the time helped me process it and move forward. Writing is very therapeutic, and I wasn't ashamed or embarrassed to put my private emotions out in the open, though I had received much backlash for it from many.

Yet what kept me motivated to keep pushing the envelope and staying true to my word-literally, was my amazing, influential Odyssey team. We all would share our topics for the week and vent about any criticisms we may have received after one of our articles had been published. I have been very fortunate to have such a supportive, caring team of Odyssey writers, else I likely would've regressed back to writing neutral articles.

So as weeks turned to months, writing for Odyssey felt like second nature. The pride I would feel once an article went public was indescribable. Looking back now at the 70+ articles I wrote, I can literally be transported back to a certain point in my life with every past article. I can see how much I've grown as a person and can acknowledge that I successfully was able to overcome certain obstacles I never thought possible.

Writing, just like time, heals everything.

The Odyssey saw me through the toughest times of my life, and no matter how uncertain things may have seemed at the time, what was for sure was the fact that I had the written word to fall back on. With each article that I wrote, I felt like a weight had been lifted. And not only that but also knowing that any particular article may have served to help someone else who may have been going through a similar situation, only inspired me more.

So, my decision to stop writing for the Odyssey came with great difficulty, as it has become such a huge part of my life. The adult world is very hectic, and responsibilities pile up as fast as bills. Lately, I just felt like I haven't been putting the time and effort into writing articles like I did during college. I owe it to the Odyssey community to be honest, as a privilege like this should never be seen as a chore.

I am so unbelievably grateful to have had this experience for the past year and a half of my life. Now, I have a permanent online library that represents who I truly am, and for the rest of my life I can look back at these articles and relive some of those memories. The Odyssey helped me to grow emotionally, and I met so many amazing, inspiring people along the way.

But, like all odysseys, it is time for this one to end.

Thank you to everyone who has supported my writing and read my articles. You have no idea how happy it made me feel to hear someone say how much they loved a certain article or how relatable another one was. Thank you to my Odyssey team for always encouraging me to write from the heart and never be too afraid to speak my mind.

And lastly, thank you to Odyssey, for serving as a safe, encouraging place for young people to voice their opinions and ideas freely. I will forever be thankful for this journey of growth, reflection, and expression.

Off to the next odyssey.

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