The Zone – How I Conquer NaNoWriMo

This year I am participating in NaNoWriMo. For the uninitiated among you, NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writers Month, is an annual challenge writers take to try to write an entire novel in the month of November.

Since its inception, NaNoWriMo has changed slightly. Many writers, myself included, are using the month to focus hard on a work they’ve already started, rather than writing a brand-new work for the month.

I’ll be honest: I have been less successful at NaNoWriMo in November than in Camp NaNoWriMo which happens every summer. July maybe? Look, today is not a researched post rife with information and hard facts. If you want that, you’ll have to go back to my Banned Books Week posts.

Today, I’m simply talking about my writing process and how I conquer the writing challenge. And I have been successful in my attempts at Camp NaNoWriMo.

I have never gone into a NaNoWriMo event with a new work. I have only ever started with a story I’ve been working on already. My first attempt at NaNoWriMo resulted in 1000 Paper Cranes. 1000 Paper Cranes is not necessarily a great work of literature. It most likely won’t ever be seen on a bookshelf. But it was the first thing that made me think being a writer was attainable. It was the first time I realized that maybe I could one day write something that will be on a shelf.

Another of my big successes at NaNoWriMo events was We Were Giants which has undergone so many title changes at this point. Again, it may never see the light of day outside of Wattpad. But it exists and it’s mine and I wrote it. Me. I created characters and gave them life.

Something I’ve learned through my NaNoWriMo endeavors is how important a routine is for my writing. I have to set time aside for myself and write. And I have to write everyday. So here’s what my routine looks like.

When I get home from work, I let the dogs out, change into writer clothes (comfortable hoodies and Toms are a must), then I grab my things and head to Starbucks. On nice days, I sit on the patio, where I have a designated seat that everybody clears out of the moment they see me. I order either a chai tea latte or a peppermint mocha, depending on my mood, and sometimes a pastry of sorts. Then I get to work. I open the Forest app on my phone (I use the paid version so that my writing will lead to the planting of real life trees in the world) and pop in my headphones. For two or three years I have written to the same album: The Last Five Years movie soundtrack starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. And then I write. I write on my story always, everyday. I don’t start anything new. I just put my head down and go.

I will admit, there have been entire days that I got to the end of the soundtrack, decided I was done writing, reviewed what I’d written, and deleted everything. And that’s okay. The important thing is that I have written something. That I am working on a book. That I am pushing my way to my goal. I am succeeding.

Everyday. I’m talking 30 days (or as many as I can fit in because I do actually work two jobs) of listening to the same album, alternating between the same two drinks, sitting in the same patio chair. When I say I need a routine, I mean I need a routine. It’s just what works best for me.

This November has started out exceptionally busy for me, so I’m already 4,000 words behind on my NaNoWriMo work. But that’s okay. I’ll catch up. I’ll hit my goal. Because tonight, I am in my zone. I have my peppermint mocha. I’m listening to The Last Five Years, and I’m working on my crime novel.

This is going to be a great NaNoWriMo!


Have a beautiful day!

The Plucky Reader

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