Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 28, 2013

Get Ready for NaNoWriMo – Mimi Cross

mimi2 Guest Post by Mimi Cross:

Rhyme or Reason?  

Either way, it’s time to get ready for NaNoWriMo 

Encouragement from your very own personal NaNo cheerleader, Mimi Cross

Hold up! What are you doing? Reading? You have time for that?

Come on, you need to start on your outline, develop your characters. Get those notes down for your story’s setting—

Or not.

Whether you’re a planner or a pantser, National Novel Writing Month is almost here, and although they may not be listed above, there are quite a few things you can do to prepare.

—Re-up on chocolate. (The good stuff, with chocolate liqueur if you can manage it. That’s the mood-altering ingredient of chocolate. Then of course there’s caffeine.)

—Say goodbye to your friends and family. Seriously, warn them. You are going into uncharted territory for 30 days, and while their encouragement and understanding would be AWESOME, staying the hell out of your way would be even better. Ahem. That’s right. But don’t try to explain. They’re not going to get, that commuting back from the imaginary world you’re building is not only difficult, it’s not desirable. So just the warning will do.

And maybe a sign on your office door.

mimiNaNoWriMo Hell Within Enter at your own risk

—Don’t have an office? Use the local coffee shop. Use a corner of the kitchen. Use a closet. But one thing that can help is to use the same spot for your writing day after day. As with meditation, simply approaching the spot will prime your brain for what’s to come.

—Music works the same way. Do your characters listen to music? Make them a playlist, a soundtrack for your novel. (You know it’s going to be optioned for a film at some point, right?) When you sit down to write, hit play. Use new music, because old music can have baggage. Use film music for drama that’s built right in.

Besides priming your brain, music can free it. Mozart’s wife used to read to him while he composed. You’re just flipping that around. Try it. Your brain will love you.

So how do I know all this stuff? I’m a NaNo winner J Three times over. I also have an MA in music education. Do you trust me now?

Kathy does. She invited me here today to give you some ideas about how to run your NaNoWriMo marathon successfully. How am I doing so far? All righty then. Here are a few more things that may help.

—A Carrot. Simple as it sounds. Set up an external reward for yourself. (Something even better than chocolate.) An SCBWI event makes an excellent reward.

— A Website. Make a personal page on the NaNoWriMo site. Upload your title. Add a picture of yourself that will make people want to talk to you in the cafeteria that first day. Use the tools once you’ve got something written, and remember to CONNECT with a few people. People you know, people you don’t.

If you’re feeling shy—Wait! Are you kidding? I’m not telling ANYONE about this!—skip the personal details. Or, lie. Enter a pseudonym. Then when you realize you’re going to kick ass . . . tell everyone your real name. Or not. WHATEVER IT TAKES.

This month is about getting 50,000 words down. So count everything, if you need to: Your notes, your false starts. Use your outline in your final word count if you have to—unless you make it before November 1st. (Yes, despite what I said above? I’ve found that having at least a bare bones outline with plot points in place is HUGE. Freeing. If you have that clothesline, you can just hang what you want off it: Clean sheets. Shirts. Wetsuits. Underwear.) Count every word, even if you have to pull a Jack Torrance once in a while.

And be prepared to embrace your awesomeness. Because at some point during November? You’re going to realize: You’re writing a novel.

Okay, we’re almost done. Here are a few things I’ve suggested in the past.

—A Circle. At some point, tell a couple of people you admire what you’re up to. Accomplished writers are the best choice. Why? Because you’ll be embarrassed if you don’t complete your goal. But CHOOSE CREATIVE, GENEROUS FOLKS. This is a good time to reconsider whom you really want to share your creative life with. Watch out for snipers—you know who they are. The naysayers. The people who say things like, YA? Oh my friend wrote one of those.

—A Rockstar. Don’t Look Back. That’s right, D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary film covering Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of the UK. If you’re weak like Orpheus, if you turn back and read what you have written, your novel may vanish forever like Eurydice. Write like a runner. Sprint. Outrun your inner critic. Fly. Flow. Let go. Remember Franny and Zooey. A writer writes. NaNoWriMo is about writing. Save the reading—and editing—for later.

NaNo is about chucking spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks—but the seeing what sticks part comes later. Don’t even think about it now. NO PEEKING.

—You’ll need a steady diet of Inspiration. I like to gather images when I’m writing. And songs. And quotes. I’ve just started collaging for my latest WIP on tumblr. It’s easy and fun.

—Last but not least, you need lust. Remember, our bodies hold our stories. So in November, walk, do yoga, clean, (repetitive motions like scrubbing or sweeping). Take long baths. Get a massage, DANCE. As Stephen King says writing is “as sexy like skin on skin.”

I might be taking that slightly out of context . . . But I think you get what I’m saying.

Here’s a great post about lusting after your novel from a woman who’s far more articulate than I am. Emma D. Dryden of drydenbks, is a fantastic editor who might be of great help to you when you want to edit your winning NaNoWriMo manuscript.

Thankfully that comes way later.

Now, it’s time to “Write Like the Wind, Bullseye!”

You recognize that quote from Toy Story, right?

What? You thought Woody said, ride like the wind? Huh. I didn’t get that.

Oh, and did I say have FUN?

This is your vacation from life. Your escape pod. Your bad TV—something you might want to keep to a minimum this month, btw. Let your novel be your entertainment. Remember, if you’re not entertained—riveted, involved, engrossed, in love—no one else will be. So write the novel you want to read.

Okay. I think my job here is done.

What? What happened to my NaNo manuscripts? Well . . . I think that might be another blog post. Hopefully one that I’ll be writing soon, because currently, an extremely edited and revised draft of my third NaNo effort is—well, if I told you, you know the drill. I’d have to kill you. But I’m hoping for good news soon, and when I get it, I’ll ask Kathy to share it.

Hopefully, as a fellow writer, my good news will inspire you even more than this post, which, in the true spirit of NaNoWriMo, I’ve written in one, long marathon of a breath.

Now, go get your chocolate.

Oh, but before you do? Here’s a little more inspiration for you, via Jack Torrance.

Thank you Mimi. I knew I could count on you for an interesting post.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I’m not planning on doing NaNoWriMo, but if I were, I’d be following lots of your advice! I really enjoyed reading this, my dear 🙂 Good luck to everyone who IS participating!


  2. Mimi, thanks for the inspiring words.


  3. I’m almost ready for NaNo! I made an outline using the Beat Sheet from “Save the Cat.” I’ve alerted my daughter not to talk to me until Dec. 1. I still need to stock up on frozen dinners and write some character studies. This will be my first attempt to reach 50,000, which is much longer than a typical middle grade novel. But, as you suggested Mimi, I’ll save everything.


    • Good luck to all you ambitious, inspired writers! 😀


  4. Thanks so much for the shout-out, Mimi! And what a terrific, inspiring post you’ve written! Ready, Get Set….GO!


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