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What You Need to Know to Get Through NaNoWriMo - by Charles Philipp Martin

I do not know you. But if you’re attempting to write a novel in 30 days, I know a couple of things about you. One is, you’re insane. The other is you love books, writing, and words. And for this I think you’re a good person, and worth a bit of my time.


But I won’t kid you. What you’re trying to do is very difficult. Especially if you want to create something good. Perhaps these few hints of mine will help.


  • First, writing is a job, like emptying porta potties. This means you won’t like it every minute, but after it’s done, you’ll have something to show for it. Unlike the aforementioned job, this one probably won’t pay you, but will have other compensations. If it didn’t, this might as well be National Porta Potty Emptying Week. 

  • You probably know your daily goal – 2500 words or whatever. If you don’t have one, don’t bother reading any further, because without a daily goal you just won’t make it. You’ll start to fall behind as it gets more difficult, and you’ll end up with a chunk of a book at the end of the month. What fun is that? Chunks of books are kicking around everywhere, in drawers, attics, and on hard disks in folders marked “The Further Adventures of Moby Dick – Chapters 1-6.”

  • A time to write is important. If it’s every evening from five to eight, then it’s every evening from five to eight. For this month, cancel your Zumba class and postpone your dialysis.

  • You're allowed a day off, but it must be a designated day off. The porta potty guy doesn’t get to stop work when the inspiration isn’t there.

  • A place to write is also a big help - one without distractions such as phones, Internet connections, humanity. Writing is not for the gregarious. Sorry, you didn’t know that? You’re probably confusing the writer who’s chatting with Stephen Colbert with the writer who’s sitting in a quiet room banging his head against his Ikea desk until those crappy screw fasteners come loose. The former is an off-duty writer. The latter is, sad to say, your role model for the month.

  • Finally, write as if the earth is about to fall from its orbit and fly into the sun, where it will vaporize in an immense fireball, erasing all of human civilization and achievement, and the only thing that is keeping the planet on course is your writing routine and the promise of the words “The End” at the close of a 50,000 word novel.

  • Because that is the truth.


Sure, it’s a big responsibility. But if you’re not up to it, the porta potties are filling up fast.

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