Top 10 NaNoWriMo-tivators (plus Some Cute Penguins)

NaNoWriMo participants, like emperor penguins, huddle together to reach their goals. Photos courtesy of The Australian Antarctic Division.

With more than an astounding 163,000 writers scribbling away during 2009’s National Novel Writing Month, one of the many joys of participating in this literary mad dash is the sense of community that develops from the very beginning. Timid introductions in the NaNoWriMo forums quickly lead to raucous high fives and rowdy cheers of encouragement as writers around the world nudge, poke, and prod one another toward their lofty goal: Write a 50,000-word novel within one month.

This is my second NaNoWriMo, and I’m having a harder time this year than I did last. To ease my way, I turned to the NaNoWriMo community and have found incredible resources to keep me on track and see me through to the end. Because it’s such a generous community, I’m inspired to share what I’ve found, and I’m including the top ten blog posts that were most helpful to me this week.

Thinking about that NaNo community now, I’m reminded of emperor penguins, those indomitable little critters made famous by the movie “March of the Penguins” and the documentary “Planet Earth.” Every year, these penguins waddle together in tight formation to share body heat and protection against battering winds and sub-zero temperatures. Their goal: Hatch a live baby chick after carrying its egg on their feet for nine weeks, without food, in the harsh Antarctic winter.

Considering their situation, I feel a tad guilty for whining when I run low on coffee, but I guess we all have a breaking point. What helps me survive my breaking point, though, is my huddle, my group of penguins, my writing friends from NaNoWriMo. When inspiration ebbs, I turn to them, and without fail, they pull me into the middle of the huddle, and get me moving again.

Hard work and community pays off, for penguins and NaNoWriMo writers.

The beautiful thing about it, is that this experience is not unique to me. It’s the NaNoWriMo way. Participating writers huddle together for the month to share their enthusiasm, their encouragement, their motivation, and that’s not all.  I’ve seen recipes swapped, songs suggested, mantras shared, magic conjured. The list goes on, all in the name of hatching that 50,000-word egg. It works, too. Last year, 21,720 writers reached their goal and won. This year, there will be even more.

As we dig into Week #3, my contribution to the warm huddle is a top ten round-up of some of my favorite blog posts from this past week. Every post included here helped me keep up my word count in some way. The topics are varied, most were written by my fellow penguins, and all of them are included here in hopes that they inspire other NaNo writers as much as they inspired me.

Week #3 can be tough; it’s the final exhausting slog before “The End” is in sight, and we could all use a little push. Thank you to the writers included here, who have done their part to push by sharing their struggles, laughs and inspiration, and thanks to all the NaNo participants who are still huddling in tight, hunkering down, and moving forward.

It’s true that writing is a solitary pursuit, but like those stoic little power penguins, NaNoWriMo participants have learned that there is strength in numbers, and that strength will carry us to our goals.

Now, on to the posts:

Lessons from a NaNoWriMo Virgin.  Jeff Posey may be a NaNo virgin, but just 10 days in, he already had 50,000 words. The last time I checked, he was up to 70,428. My suggestion is that if he has lessons to share, you might want to listen. His novel, tentatively titled “Anasazi Runner” is the story of  a Native American boy, abandoned at birth, who is inspired to become an Anasazi runner and complete the world’s first sub-two-hour marathon. Check out the rest of Jeff’s blog at Anasazi Stories.

Writing Tips to Keep You Focused, by Nicole Humphrey. Nichole’s blog, It’s All About Writing, focuses on her life as a writer, a busy, busy writer, who is also the mother of five. Her novel this year is “Dancing With Fireflies.” She’s been reaching her NaNo goals this year, and she says, “I will win!” Nicole has done NaNoWriMo since 2004 and has won every year since 2006. Not only that, she juggles a freelance career and is a prolific blogger. When she talks about focus, she speaks from experience… lots and lots of experience.

NaNoWriMo!!! This one changes things up a bit with a vlog from John of the Nerdfighters. If nothing else, John’s manic energy will motivate you to write, write, and write faster. Don’t know the Nerdfighters? I insist you visit, and more importantly, DFTBA.

Sabotaging NaNoWriMo — It’s For Your Own Good, by Tony Noland is a funny round-up of tips for sabotaging the NaNoWriMo efforts of your better half. Tony writes literary fiction, flash fiction, and action/adventure with forays into sci-fi, horror, and fantasy. His blog, Landless, features thoughts from a writer sailing across a sea of prose. This is his fourth NaNo. He won in 2006 and says that he “will succeed in 2009, come hell or high water.”

A Report Card and Procrastination Assistance.  JK Evanczuk shares her optimism and tells us why she believes in NaNoWriMo. Her post is on the Lit Drift website, which, if you haven’t visited yet, I recommend it for so many reasons. Check it out for yourself.

Famous Authors’ NaNoWriMo Tips is a hilariously tongue-in-cheek and highly irreverent post with “Twittered” advice for writers. Don’t miss the tweet from @Steph_Meyer on the best use of OMG! In addition to this post, the Inkwell Bookstore Blog has some great posts for writers, readers, and book lovers.  They also JUST posted a Famous Authors’ Advice Pt. II.

Writing with the Bulls. Writer Alegra Clarke guest blogs on Editor Unleashed and tells us why she takes up the challenge each year. Her blog home can be found at Eros-Alegra Clark.

Show Some Character. In this post, editor Jason Black shows us “Three Ways Relationships can Reveal Your Characters.” Not only is the information useful, but it’s inspiring, coming from a four-time NaNo participant and winner. This year he is writing “Lapochka,” a YA novel about a young woman searching for her father through clues he left in Soviet-era Russian comic books. Jason had a techno-glitch that set him back last week, but he’s since caught up, and he says, “Unless I break my wrist in the next twelve days, this will be my fifth win.” His blog Plot to Punctuation is loaded with information for writers, NaNo or otherwise.

NaNoWriMo Playlist. Mercedes M. Yardley lists 105 songs, types of music, singers, bands, etc., all  used to inspire and motivate writers. She started the list on her A Broken Laptop blog, and readers are adding to it. The list continues to grow and includes works as diverse as 14. Bach’s cello suites and 15. Pantera “10s.” Mercedes asks readers to leave suggestions and says, “We can look them up and add them to our playlists if we find ourselves in need of inspiration.” Sounds like a great idea to me.

Twitter. Finally, if you are doing NaNoWriMo this year, and you’re not on Twitter, you are missing out on a lot. Some say Twitter is a huge time-sucking machine, and there certainly is some truth to that, but after the initial excitement wears off, there is an endless stream of useful tips and ideas being tossed out there for all to use. Search #nanowrimo to get in on it. Or, if things aren’t going your way, search #nanopanic. Either way, you’ll find something useful.

© Olivia Tejeda and Away with Words, 2008-2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Olivia Tejeda and Away with Words with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


6 thoughts on “Top 10 NaNoWriMo-tivators (plus Some Cute Penguins)

  1. Olivia: I’m honored to be a penguin on your list, but mainly I thank you for leading me to the others. I’ve already begun to enjoy them. Great roll-up of good thinking and great reading.

    Thanks, and in the immortal words of my grandfather, “Are there any turnips left?” (Dang, even slipping into nonfiction, I lose control of my characters.)

    Jeff Posey

  2. These are all great, and I’m honored to be among them.

    Standing as I am with roughly 40% of Jeff Posey’s NaNoWriMo wordcount, I can only say that he inspires me to add a #11 to my list of tips on how to sabotage a #nanowrimo effort: a) compare your wordcount to everyone else’s, b) allow yourself to feel terrible when other people have more than you, c) DON’T allow yourself to feel good when other people have fewer than you.

  3. These are some great links! I’m enjoying them immensely. And the playlist is still growing! I’ve been introduced to some great music in the last few days. Rock on!

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