Nanowrimo Panic Stations5 min read

by Oct 28, 2016Writing0 comments

So there’s just one weekend to go before Nanowrimo starts on Tuesday.  During this weekend I have no available time.  So I’ve basically got tonight to hash out something to start Nano with.

This isn’t anything new to me, I’m a pro at the last minute panic.  This will be my seventh Nano, and every year I’m changing my mind right up until (and sometimes several days after) the 1st November.  It normally works out okay in the end.

So, if your story isn’t ready yet, Douglas Adams can reassure you: DON’T PANIC.

To start with – breathe.  If you fail on that count then Nanowrimo ain’t happening at all.

Next, break planning down into smaller chunks.  You don’t have to know everything on the first day of writing.  Work out a couple of scenes you know you need to include so you’re ready to write them.  Once you start plotting out these, your brain will start whirring away and figuring out connecting scenes or ideas that spiral off of one of those first few events.

Don’t be afraid to not plan at all and see where your weird and wonderful grey matter takes you.  Erin Morgenstern completed a Nano project and decided there were some characters that only appeared near the start of her story that she found more interesting.  So she threw the rest away and wrote “The Night Circus”.  The digressions your story takes you on often turn out to be more exciting than the novel you originally planned.

If your grey matter isn’t dutifully whirring away in time for Tuesday then you could get your friends or writing community together and have them write prompts.  The weirder the better.  Everyone should have something to say about ninja puffins.  My dad set me story prompts when I was little and I would have given anything for ninja puffins.  Instead I got set 500 words on “Why I did not come and help my dad with the gardening when I was called”.  Alien abduction was involved.

If you are a meticulous plotter and you are panicking because you feel you don’t have time to plot then I really advocate a go at pantsing, it’s messy but insanely exciting!  You literally don’t know what your characters are going to do next.  One of mine turned into a dragon quite unexpectedly about a third of the way into the month.

But if pantsing is too far out of your comfort zone, then don’t just give up.  You still have time to plot!  Even if you don’t start the writing until a couple of weeks in, the one or two weeks’ worth of writing you do in remaining Nano time is still likely to be more writing than you would have done otherwise.  4No excuses plotters!   But if the word count is genuinely making you panic, then set a different goal.  My friends, have you heard of Picowrimo?

Nanowimo is a joyous, riotous, bat-crap crazy way to spend a month.  And the pre-Nano panic you’re experiencing?  That’s nothing compared to what’s still to come.  Arm yourself with your sharpened pencil sword and your laptop shield.  Once more unto the breech!

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