How to SCARE Away the NaNoWriMo Heebie Jeebies

Happy Halloween! Each year as I come off my candy-induced energy high, I’m always faced with the simultaneously sobering and exciting fact that National Novel Writing Month starts TOMORROW. For those of you participating, are you excited and raring to go? Is this your first time? Are you a little bit scared? Are you suspicious of the 1,667 per day word count that you need to win NaNoWriMo because if you take off the 1 and subtract it from the 7, you get 666?

But seriously, it’s perfectly natural to be a little afraid whether it’s your first time doing NaNoWriMo or your fifth. Totally and completely natural *nods*. So for this special Halloween-day post, I thought I’d offer some pre-NaNoWriMo advice to SCARE away those writing heebie jeebies. (BOO!)



  1. AVOID SURPRISE ATTACKS. Being mindful and present in your WIP as much as possible will allow you to write more. For most writers, we have other things going on in November besides writing. For many writers, the 1,667 words per day is daunting. I definitely fall into both of these categories. However, if I’m stuck in a work meeting and simply can’t write, it helps during the lulls of that meeting to think about the next scene of my WIP — so, when I do have a moment, I can more easily hammer out those words (I might even jot down notes in a memo app if I think I can get away with it, but shhhhh….). The same applies to when I’m cooking dinner or when I’m grocery shopping or driving. Or, or, or.
  2. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE (and write while you are at it)! Write on the go — when you can, as much as you can. This year I’m walking into NaNoWriMo with the new(ish) Scrivener app on my iPad and iPhone, which readily syncs files between platforms (Not gonna lie — that feature is AWESOME). If I’m waiting for the copier machine to spit out my print job, I write a little. If I’m riding in the elevator, same. Walking across campus, same (these days, people just assume I’m playing Pokemon GO). Need more ideas for writing-on-the-go? Here’s a fun little post of how far writers are willing to go with their writing-on-the-go. 🙂
  3. BEWARE OF THE REVISING MONSTER. RAWR! NaNoWriMo is for drafting words, even if those words are super stinky. I have the hardest time with this because my stubborn brain balks at this idea and insists on revising as I draft. In the long run, this means I have less revisions to do when I’m done drafting. However, winning NaNoWriMo is all about getting your words in, not making sure that they are the best words. Those revisions should come later.
  4. SCREAM FOR HELP. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. I’m not sure what sort of support units you have, but do not be shy about asking for a little more help than usual this month. Get your support units together for a mini-writing retreat one evening. If one of your support units is a significant other that’s a non-writer, explain to this support unit that you need to steal away some nights to write (but remember to hang out with said support unit at least some of the time 🙂 ). If you have kids as support units, they can help too (Yes, kids can be support units too, though sometimes they can be a little more challenging than adults, especially if they are 5 and 9, or really any age either younger or older than this). Sometimes I set a timer for 30 min or an hour and we all have to quietly work on our homework/ writing/ drawing/ whatever for that time and not interrupt mommy (who might have her earbuds in anyway) unless absolutely necessary.
  5. AHHHHHHHHHH! Don’t let the NaNoWriMo progress graph scare you. From past years’ experience, I tend to be above the curve for the first week or so (YAY!), then I fall below it for a while (BOO!), and every time the latter happens, I feel the creeping fingers of panic start tugging on me. If you fall below the curve, know that it’s totally FINE. Step it up the next day (write while you’re eating breakfast or lunch). Stay up a little later the next night (but don’t do this too many nights in a row, or it will quickly catch up to you). Catch up, but don’t make a big deal in your head out of falling behind. Also, I personally find the NaNoWriMo buddy feature to be not very helpful. I know it’s supposed to be a motivating tool, but I never find it super useful to compare my progress to others. We already have to compare our progress to the graph/curve, and that can be scary enough.

Above all, remember this about NaNoWriMo: ANY writing you accomplish this month is a WIN. So you see, there’s nothing to be afraid of after all. You got this. 🙂


helenHelen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad, an avid fiction reader, with encouraging her to read ALL OF THE BOOKS on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. An author of both paranormal and contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of the Mythology trilogy (MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, THE ETERNAL), and contemporary romances LOSING ENOUGH and SCARS RUN DEEP (coming soon). You can find out more about her writing life at

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