NaNoWriMo Advice and Recommendations

I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year, because dammit, while I love my short stories and my flash fiction, I’ve got a couple of novels that I know I want to write.  (Feel free to add me as a writing buddy;  do toss me a note when you do so I know who you are!)

I’m also browsing the forums when I take breaks;  much the same as with writing conferences, giving (and reading) advice on writing motivate me.  While there’s some specific novel-based advice that I’m not qualified to talk about, there’s a lot that I am able to talk about competently.

There’s also some tools that are really, really useful for me that I want to share.

The Everchanging Book of Names – This bit of shareware is great for generating plausible names that are both consistent and can be differentiated.  If you’re running it under WINE, you’ll want to use a script like this one.

Scrivener –  Seriously.  Use it through NaNo and if you complete the challenge, you get a discount on buying it.  (Windows and Mac, Linux beta)

Zim – A desktop wiki.  By far the easiest of these to use – because you don’t have to know WikiMarkup.  If you’re not using Scrivener, this will help you keep your stuff organized.

Dropbox – To keep my stuff synced across computers and avoid excuses.  Dropbox is great and fast for on-demand access to your files.  2 gigs free storage, more with referrals.

DirSyncPro – To keep the thumbdrive synced.  There are other programs like this, but this one’s crossplatform, which is the main reason I need a thumb drive at all.

SpiderOak – For backups (getting access is much slower than Dropbox, but its versioning is much nicer).  Aside from my normal “large” backup, I’ve started a scheduled task that only re-scans my “current writing” folder by using a command line that looks like this:


C:Program FilesSpiderOakSpiderOak.exe –batchmode –backup=c:/PATH/TO/WRITING/FOLDER


/Applications/ –batchmode –backup=PATHTOWRITINGFOLDER


SpiderOak –batchmode –backup=/PATH/TO/WRITING/FOLDER

K.W. Taylor’s Advice on Getting Through NaNo Without Losing Your Mind – She knows of what she speaks.

Eighth Day Genesis – Yes, I know, I’m the publisher. I refer back to this book regularly. It is that useful. Something like 90% of the questions I see on the worldbuilding, fantasy, horror, and science fiction forums at the NaNo site are answered in this book. It’s well worth picking up – especially since digital versions of Eighth Day Genesis are on sale through November.

And finally, I think I distilled a huge chunk of advice I’ve gotten, read, or heard over the years into these ten points. And I’m doing my damnest to remember them.

  1. Start writing.
  2. Don’t try to go back and fix anything until the story’s done.
  3. Give yourself permission to write complete and utter junk. “You can’t fix crappy writing if there’s nothing on the page.”
  4. When you realize you want to change/add something, make a note for yourself when you’re done and keep going.
  5. Don’t put off writing until later. Later never comes.
  6. Writing is a skill and takes practice. Practice is writing. Do it.
  7. Don’t put off writing until you’re “inspired”.
  8. If you get stuck, skip ahead in the story and write the next bit.
  9. When you must stop, stop in the middle of a scene or sentence. It’ll be easier to start again.
  10. Keep writing.

What tips and tools are you using with NaNo

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